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The Dashing Life and Exuberant Times of Brian Harrison....And Other Rare Anecdotes

Saturday, June 25, 2005

A Letter From Camp

Dear Mom (and all others reading this),
My 2 weeks stay at this year's summer camp has been going good thus far. The tent we stay in is far bigger than any other tent that I've had the privilege of staying in. Instead of bonfires at night, at this camp we do not dare light a single match for we are surrounded by about 750 lbs of gunpowder and surely, mother, Nathan and I wouldn't come home in one piece if we suddenly decided on a smore-cooking, Kumbayah-singing bonfire. I must admit, I can get pretty home-sick every now and then. It's not that I miss home all that much, sorry to disappoint. It's just sometimes I miss the excitement of being able to leave the tent and do something without worrying about the merchandise being stolen by vandals. Our schedule is this: We get up, not too early, and for our morning camp activity, we roll up the sides of the tent, to let the people on the highway know that we're open for business. Then we sit, and we sit, and we furthermore sit, sometimes helping a customer if need be, but for the most part we just sit. This 2nd camp activity is in fact, as I have found out, the main theme for this particular encampment. We will spend so many hours sitting, and I guess we don't have to necessarily sit, but could maybe also stand, although our legs may get a little tired. Regradless of whether we sit or stand we take part in this activity for nearly the whole day and it is a much more strenous labor than you can possibly imagine. I really need to talk to the director of this camp to see if I could give him new ideas for more eventful activities. At times, we have the brief interlude of a customer coming to look at some fireworks. At which Nathan and I jump up from our diligent sitting to do whatever we can to make that person believe that he or she cannot go this 4th of July without our fireworks.
Now, for a word about fireworks. In the days of my ignorance, I knew nothing about these ostentatious displays of playful explosives. I knew about bottle rockets. I knew about roman candles. I might have been slightly educated on those little tanks that spit out sparks. -But let me tell you, I've think I've discovered a new passion in life. The night of our orientation for this new job, we were able to witness the radiant effect of each firework. From the simplest firecracker to the loftiest 119 multitube, my eyes were dazzled by this bright panaroma of colors, sparks, smoke, and sublimated fire. We hold in 0ur possession colorful fountains, like the Butterfly Parade or Rythym and Blues, that gushes out, on and on, endless streams spouts of multicolored streams of fire. There are rockets that zip off into the night air and with their pop and bang form into a smiley face or an X. Then, there are the bad boys like, "One Bad Mother," "Loyal To None", and "Not In My Yard", that make one feel as though they're in a wonderland of lit-up skies with its own bolt-wielding Zeus giving us mortal spectators a show.
So probably the hardest thing about this camp, is being so surrounded by such toys and not being able to light the tiniest fuse.
In the evenings, whenever we feel like retiring into sleep, we pull down the sides of the tent, and enclose ourselves with this plastic chickenwire, and then make our beds on a cot and a hammock. Then we lay there being lulled to sleep by the sound of the highway which lays within yards of our tent. If sleep doesn't immediately seize us, then we lay there ready at the slightest stir to jump up from our beds and defend our fireworks tent. Whereas at most camps, one must sleep with one eye open to guard against the possibility of waking up duct taped to the bed and wearing a nice layer of shaving cream, at this camp, we have to be wary of the ever present thieves who would love to get their grimy hands on some fireworks or our money. Because of this, I never let my trusty baseball bat lay out of reach, and Nathan keeps his machete near his hammock. We also have a sleeping decoy set up in a cot, at the front of the tent, so that any intruders attempt to slip in at the front they will see a sort of slothful scarecrow in bed right where they may want to creep in. We call this slumbering dummy, Jehosophat. Then Nathan and I both individually retire to opposite sides of the tent, so that at least one of us is more likely to hear and be awoken by potential thieves from any side of the tent.
I must say one of the best decisions I made in this whole endeavor was asking Nathan Martin to be a partner, for I find he is very knowledgeable and talented at everything I'm not. Which is to say almost everything involved in maintaing a business. He's a real jackof all trades. He had a truck and a trailor which was most advantageous at transporting our large supply of fireworks. He is well versed in the laws of carpentry and electricity which was needed for setting up everything. And then he knows all about business fundamentals with its finiancial aspects. I have found out, for the life of me, that I cannot work even the simplest of calculators. Yes, mother, your accounting genes skipped right over me. I have really no brain when it comes to counting money. No, I believe that if I have any forte that can at all contribute to this business, it is in sales. By the time a customer arrives, I am so bored, that I cannot wait to talk to them.
Then there are our neighbors. We've had the utmost fortune to be situated on the property of some really fine people. Whereas before, Nathan and I believed that we would go for the long duration in the chance of not taking a shower. -But our lucked-out circumstances allow us a shower and many other camping luxuries. Mr. Jim Jones and his wife, Mrs. Nora Jones, (no, not the singer) allow us to take showers in the office of their Dozer Repair Shop. She will also do our laundry for us, bring us supper, keep us company while we sit, and let us check our email at her office computer (from which I am now typing this). In short, I think that they have adopted two sons. They have gone above and beyond the call of hospitality, and it is people like them, that let's you know you can go anywhere in the world and still find some nice good people.
p.s. Oh, Shelbyville, TN is the walking horse capital of the world, but I haven't seen a single horse yet.
p.p.s.Maybe, only the locals are familiar as to their whereabouts and they hide them from outsiders.

Sunday, June 19, 2005


I'm off. In less than an hour I leave for Shelbyville, TN to live in a tent for the next 2 weeks by selling fireworks for the 4th of July. It'll be fun, It'll be great, it'll be everything that living and guarding a bunch of explosives can be. So, I'm off, and you won't be hearing from me for awhile, dear reader, if you exist at all. And maybe I'll resume this blog later with some even more entertaining stories

A Runaway Dilemma

Yesterday, I had another strange event. Being stuck without a license and without wheels, a person gets pretty bored sitting around the house, so to ease up this boredom I go on long walks. I was on one of these walks yesterday, trampling through the woods that separate my neighborhood from the mall property, which is by the way, the scene for many a showdown with the notorious rentacops. I was thinking to myself all the excitement that I used to squeeze out of this little stretch of land, and singing to myself as I walked, and thinking about the book Don Quixote, which I just picked up and how once upon time when walking through forests, when I was younger, though still not very long ago, I used to imagine similiar stretches of woods as vast forests and the path before me as a quest and myself as some knight-errant on this very quest. Maybe I was wishing that my days could be so summed up as such a quest of adventures for the good of the world, and how reality just plainly and very much is just a big let down. Perhaps these thoughts were not actually in mind as what next happened which was a turning point in that whole day and maybe someone's life, but the feel of the thought may have still been there; I was probably only singing to myself and thinking it's good to walk in the sun, but deep down wishing for something to occur like this questing ideal, when over to my right I spotted a young girl. She hit the ground as though she didn't want to be seen. Being very confused at why a young lady was out here in the woods, I asked the very natural question, "What are you doing?" at which she said that she was hiding. When I asked her who she was hiding from she said that it was a long story. I said, "I've got time."
I crouched down beside the young lady to hear her story, thinking that I might be able to live out an ideal of helping some defensiveless person in need, and if not that then to have at least an interesting story to tell. Then she began her spill. She was dark-haired and dark-featured, 15 years of age, and her family were originally from Pakistan. They had moved to the town of Daleville, AL. According to her, her parents were extreme Muslims, they never let her out of the house and never let her do anything unless it was with their own extreme brand of restriction that is so peculiar to Muslim sects. Both her mother and father beat her if one thing was not to their liking. Therefore, she ran away, only an hour ago, when she told her folks she was going to take out the trash, she walked out the door and into the taxi that she had called and ended up in Dothan, at the mall, and in these woods where I met her. She was waiting on a friend to come pick her up. We sat there talking when I noticed on the other side of the woods lights flashing. They were the security lights that I knew so well, from all the times I'd spent years ago running from them, in the little game I used to play with them. I kept saying to her that we should probably try to get inside the mall, that being out here looks suspicious and we will certainly be seen sooner or later. She seemed scared at this remark and seemed very hesitant about the mall. I assured her that no one would recognized her. That was until I saw those lights across the way, and I knew that the rentacops were looking in those woods for something. I really felt like I should help in some way and you must understand that the story about her harsh parents made me want to aid her in getting away. We sat there frozen, that is until we saw the security truck again and this time a police car with it. There was no time for thinking anymore. If we waited any longer we'd be found out. So, I told her to follow me and try to keep up, that we were going to cross through the woods and come out on the other side. She nodded her assent. And I took off bounding through the forest, knowing these woods since my youth, and stopping ever so often so that she could catch up. As we ran, I began to suspect her story more and more. I mean, here I was with a runaway girl in a forest, if we're caught this isn't going to look pretty. How could I tell that she was telling me truth, she could have drugs on her, she could've stole something out of the mall and the security could've chased her out and are now looking for her. Fearing that if the police are really looking for her they probably have the opposite trailhead on the other side of the woods covered. So, I ran straight through the thickness of the forest and ended up near somebody's backyard. Then I told her the truth, that I had no way of knowing if she was telling me truth, whether she was just running away for some stupid reason, or even if she had drugs on her. She assured me that she was telling me the truth. But she did mention to me that if the police found her don't tell them that she has ran away. Seeing that she wasn't against lying there, made me realize that she probably wasn't against lying to me. So I had a major dilemma before me. In what way was the best way to help. I then asked her about her friend that was picking her up. She said that he had to drive down from Tennessee to pick her up and take her back up to live with his family. This was beginning to sound all too strange for me. She just needed a place to stay for those couple of hours until he (her supposed boyfriend) got there. I began leading her to my house, but then I thought that this would be a stupid move, so I said I knew of a perfect place that she could hang out until her boyfriend arrived and that was the grocery market on the other side of the neighborhood. It sure beats this girl crouching in some woods beside the mall. So, as we were going, I began to grill her, telling her about all the dangers in running away being as young she was, and that trusting people, like she was trusting me, was not a good idea. I asked about this supposed boyfriend of hers, could he be trusted? Was he not just manipulating her into leaving her family to move in with him? Then I told her about some good people I knew who worked in the police department and that would try to help her if she wished. But she said that she's tried that before, that it just gets her in more trouble with her folks. As we were walking she borrowed my cell phone to call her boyfriend to notify him that there's been a change in the pickup location. She was telling him about how she ran into me and the guy, of course, got worried and told her to make sure I'm not some kind of maniac. Well, the girl told me everything that he was saying, so I retorted that how did I know that he wasn't a maniac. She repeated this remark to him, and he got furious and mentioned to her that he was hoping that he was bigger than me when he got down there. Then the couple went on talking and then from talking into heavy arguing, which I could see that going with this guy was not going to be a smart move for her. I told her that I wanted to speak to her boyfriend, which she refused because she kept saying that he was so mad at me. Which I didn't understand. I finally talked to the guy, and he accused me of trying to act like she was my girlfriend in the way I was being so protective of her. I could tell that this boyfriend seemed jealous, but that the pickup spot was changed and we approached the grocery store. I offered to buy her something to eat. She refused and I said good luck as I walked away.
Then the dilemma unfolded before my eyes. What to do in such a situation? I began to pray for her and ask God what was I to do? Call the police or let things go? I was walking when I saw some good neighbors of mine, the Wares, and told Mrs. Ware and this other lady the entire situation and what should be done. They advised me to interfere with this somehow, that if her parents were treating her so badly then she should just file a report. I called a trusted police officer that I knew and asked him the question off the record, and he said that she had the option of filing a report if she wanted. So, I ended up leaking information to the police to find this girl, whom I, at first, helped escaped. I gave this policeman her description and he said that they would find her at the grocery store. I hope I made the right decision and she will not be placed inside the house again, if her parents are who she says they are. The last I heard, none of the cops found her at that grocery store. She obviously suspected that I would tell someone about her so she must have fled. I hope and pray everything turns out okay.

Friday, June 17, 2005

My Great American Summer

This is now my Great American Summer. Doubt me if you wish, but I believe that I am on a real search this summer to dig deeper into the ideals and symbols of America. I've already been privileged to see the heart of the American metropolis, New York City with its Statue of Liberty and its missing-twin-tower patriotism shining forth. I've already been just a stone's throw away from America in Canada. For it is in Canada, a place so close to our own, that our identity can be seen ironically even closer. It is through comparison of like subjects that the differences are more noticeable. Then as you might have read, I've had my fair share of summer camp visitations. For what is summertime in the USA if there are no summer camps with their own raging version of drill sergeants? Then from there, I had the fortunate privilege of seeing two of America's most legendary musicians and songwriters on stage. They are none other than Willie Nelson and my hero, Bob Dylan, at which I hope to write more very soon. Then just this coming weekend I will we be working at a fireworks tent in Tennessee selling, and you guessed it, fireworks all for the 4th of July.
I could see this summer as one big theme park ride entitled cleverly, "The Great American Summer Ride". It could be such an amazing thrill ride at an amusement park. Everyone would enter the little cart and then the rollercoaster or boat or whatever would start off going inside this huge building where all the scenery is constructed. You began winding up and down little hills in a supposed backwoods Arkansas setting, until the train rolls on into suburbia America and then out of one of the cardboard houses a mechanical looking mother keeps popping out from the door of the house yelling, "Now, you be careful.""Don't you need to iron that shirt before you go" and my favorite, "Brian, what are you doing in that car, you're not supposed to be driving!" Then all of sudden with a light bang almost a hundred streams of toilet paper shoot in every direction over head and completely cover the whole suburban scene, then everything darkens and you can hear the infamous breathing of Darth Vader, one of America's greatest villians, and with it you hear his voice, "Why am I the butt of all your jokes? Knock it off and quit rolling my yard." Then the train winds around the track and you see the towering skyscrapers and bright yellow taxis all seem to be rushing by you, and people yelling in every direction and then with one bright spotlight you see several celebrities, a mechanical David Letterman in a desk and then you hear an incomprensible amount of laughter from every direction. And then a mechanical Adam Sandler leans out and starts making all the weird noises that Adam Sandler makes and again this unseen laughter erupts everywhere. Then you come to Broadway bright lights everywhere and all this singing and mechanical people up on a stage dancing, "Chitty Chitty, Bang Bang we love you" they sing as a flying car whirls by. And the next thing you know you feel as though you are on this big bus and the bus driver goes crazy, she is like some kind of Salem witch screaming and cackling, "We are lost! We are lost, my dearies! Ha! Ha!I'm taking you away!"
And next you come to this large river and across the river you see all these mounties. And a voice on your side of the river cries, "Look at all those canucks over there" And several Canadian looking Indians jump in war paint and begin to throw imaginary spears. And then you notice in the distance that there is this huge mountie wedding taking place where no one is there without a mountie uniform on, their bright red jackets gleaming in the carnival-like lights. And the next thing you now you are in this swamplands with sounds of this banjo in your hears and then all of sudden everything glows red and this mechanical southern sheriff pops out screaming for everybody to get down on the ground and that you deserve nothing but a good whoopin'. Then as you wind along the sheriff's red head that resembles a bull's is hanging right above as you pass by him, he blows smoke from his nostils. Which probably is the biggest thrill who dares ride this ride and that's why children under 12 wouldn't be allowed to ride. And then next you feel like your floating down a river and you hear the song "Whisky river take my mind" and you see none other than a automaton version of Willie Nelson singing and playing and then next you feel as though your rolling on all these rocks instead of being in a smooth car or boat and the voice you hear and the robotic figure you see is Bob Dylan's and belting out "Like A Rolling Stone" as you seem to be rolling like one. Then all at once fireworks begin to go off everywhere, tons and tons of fireworks. You see an Uncle Sam automaton juggling bottle rockets. More bangs and bright colors exploding in the darkness and then what next? maybe the train track winds down to some far off mountains, who knows where it leads? You just maybe think you can see the peaks of this large mountain range. What do you think? You think such a theme park ride would work?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Encounters with the Furious Captain

Continuing from the Blog before.....
The captain ran up like a freight train beaming with that one bright spotlight, tearing up the rails, getting louder and louder with its boiling engine and screaming whistle and we were like a couple of unfortunate souls got in the middle of a darkened tunnel with no escape. The car was stuck and there was nothing for us to do but to succumb to the collision of this furious train. Immediately, the captain began screaming , "Everyone, Get down on the ground!!!!"
Thinking that this guy had watched to many Cops episodes, I retorted that we didn't have guns. I was the one still beside the car whose attempt at a last-minute escape proved futile. So, the light shone on me and I became the vile culprit. "WWhhh-aatt, do you think you were doing, Harrison!!!!" the captain trying to form his rage into words. "Get up here, Harrison, get up here!!! right now!!" He was standing above the ditch while I was down among the weeds beside the car in that ditch. I cannot at all express the impression of this man's anger. I have quite the temper myself, and I am aware of how rage certainly borders on the fringes of all sanity, but I had never watched it break out past this thin fringe like it did in this one man. This youth minister of all people. There was his loathsome bright light that kept shining in my eyes, and multiple shadows behind the captain. He wasn't alone. I decided that I should appease the captain seeing how he might burst a vein if I didn't do so, so I began to step up out of the ditch. Then he stepped forward and made a quick thrust with his hands torwards me. Well, I've been in a couple of fights, where people are alot less angry than he his. The notion that he was trying to swing a punch at me formed, so I dodged his quick movement by stepping down once again into the ditch. Of course, he was only trying to grab the front of my shirt collar, the kind of thing that people who want absolute control over a person do, especially when they feel angry and out of control themselves. -But how could I know this. He seemed to be laying a punch on me, so I stepped back, and the idea occurred that the way he was leaning forward in his uncontrollable fury, I could have grabbed those very hands that were extended towards me, and with the gravity advantage I had being a large step below, I could have hauled him forward, myself turning sideways and backwards, and clearly have flung him headfirst into the thick of the very weeds his precious legs were wanting to avoid. Of course, such thoughts were lightning quick and then what would I have done, but only have set off an even madder,(if such a state was possible) captain this time new and improved with grass stains all over him. Though almost a head shorter than I, the captain's arms were twice as thick as mine. And it is never good to pick a fight with someone is already nearly foaming at the mouth when all you did was a harmless prank.
So I jerked back quickly and used the car to block himself from me. I bet I looked pretty ridiculous strutting around those weeds with a pair of really tight long-john's on. I bet they looked like white leotards and I was but the male ballet performer prancing around in "The Moonlight Chase of the White Fox." Which isn't a real play but would be if ever someone wrote it. I would be that white fox and the captain would be whatever angry carnivorous creature that you can think of that devours foxes. Meanwhile, the captain with his angry entourage behind him began to yell at me calling me "the sissy that I had always been", such a phrase deeply offended me and had I not just seen how stupid and idiotic people look when extremely angry, that probably would have set me off. Maybe I thought, that I would just play it as cool as possible and then later avenge myself by writing it all down how it actually happened and displaying the captain as the complete butt of this story, as I am now doing.
He then turned to my company and pointed at Gantt to get over to the side and to sit down on the pavement. Gantt, really believing, as everyone else did, that he meant violent harm towards me refused to sit down. Now there were 3 other guys there looking very angry also who there in their muscle-shirts, (the ridiculous style that guys from Moulton, AL think look cool, for some unknown reason) and they all seemed to be expecting that something threatening was going to happen, as though one of us was going to pull a gun or something. The captain growled for me to come up and that he had some talking for us to do. Thinking that if I waited, I could get him to calm down a bit, he would be less out of his mind, I said, "Alright! Let's talk then...there's nothing stopping us. I can hear you from where you are at." Then he roared back very angrily, "Yes, we're gonna talk! We're gonna talk like MMEEENNN!!!" and with this last word, he roared as though he had just been shot in the eye by a bottlerocket or was trying out for one of the Orc roles in a Lord of the Rings movie. So the image of he and his 3 henchmen jumping me suddenly formed in my mind, due to previous situations that I've been in, for the way he thinks that men talk is with fists. Eventually realizing that delaying his enraged speech or perhaps his physical lesson only makes the man angrier and I was ready to get whatever he had in mind over with so that we could get this car out of the ditch and go home, I stepped out of the ditch again. And once again the captain lunged forward, grabbing the front of my collar and yanking me up towards him and then pulled me and pushed me up against the front bumper of his bus, that stupid vehicle that made all of this possible. With his index finger, like a steel rod, he kept pointing and jabbing into me, "You know better than that, boy!" He kept repeating. He couldn't articulate anything else for the wrath that was welling up inside him. His nose was practically touching my nose. I could feel the heat that was exuming from his face while his bald head simmered in this bright red glow. "You could have killed someone driving around like that!!" I apologized to him as calmly as I could and said that it wouldn't happen again. Then he went on in his own contrived version of possibilities, which only makes one fall deeper into one's own existing mood. He said, that he himself is not worried about getting hit by a car, but me endangering the life of his students, he would not put up with. I could have hit one of these high-schoolers (I guess if they were out playing hop-scotch in the streets that night, maybe, or if perhaps they like running out in front of speeding cars). I kept my mouth shut and used every muscle in my face to keep from smirking, as is a natural expression of mine, especially in such circumstances. Now, all of this was fairly impossible for everyone was in their cabins getting ready for bed and I assure you a car driving around at night at Camp Wiregrass is a very hard detail to not notice. Then he thought of the very rare possibility that I could have somehow hit his wife who was pregnant (who you never know might have the craving to go on midnight strolls) and with this thought, again that aura of nothing but rage took possession of him. I thought surely if I were to say one smart remark his head might explode.
He ranted on about how the sheriff was on their way, which scared me most for although I wasn't the one that drove into the ditch that's how they found me in the driver's seat in the ditch and I was the one of course that did speed around camp. All this did but fear in me because my driver's license was suspended from too many speeding tickets. I thought surely, if the sheriff was on his way, than I would shortly be on my way to the jailhouse.
Then the captain went on and on about what he would have to do to teach me a lesson. That's when Gantt walked over and began to stand up and speak. Saying that this wasn't how a christian should be handling this. The captain's henchmen bowed themselves in the background thinking that a fight was about to break. There were these two twins who look like they spent most of their days in weight rooms and had never thought a thought for themselves. Then there was this other guy, whom I recognized that I felt sort of discouraged that he was so mad and stern with rest of these guys. As the captain furiously preached on how I need to be taught a lesson. Gantt, began to defend me saying, "What, and you're going to be the one to teach him that lesson?" At which the angry man shouted back, "You WANT some, too!!!" stepping then in to Gantt's face like a maddened bull ready to gore the matador with his horns. Then Gantt began to say how all this yelling and almost manhandling wasn't going to teach me a lesson. That he knew Brian Harrison and this was going to make him want to do more. I was thinking, "Oh no, Gantt...No. Don't go there." Which the bull seemed to snort and then get all worked up again, you could see those hot wheels turning in his head. You see with people like the captain you cannot argue with them. You just have to let them have their stage time of ranting and foaming at the mouth. You act as coolly as possible not giving them any reason to be angry at you. I used sincere words when apologizing like "That I had learned my lesson. I am remorseful. Because of my stupidity our car is now stuck."
I was really getting to be worried about the car also, and I tried to make the captain realize how the state of the car upset me, that if I bring his attention to how our car was stuck in the ditch and how the girls were also upset (my sister was on the verge of tears), he may be content with that as "my lesson" and calm down and not make such a big fuss when the sheriff was to arrive.
Gantt and him began to argue about something and I slipped out over to Doogie, the one fellow out of the 4 who I thought may still have his head still screwed on his shoulders properly. I asked, "Is the sheriff really on his way?" At which he responded sternly, "Robert Holley might be calling him right now." Wow, that was a relief. Robert Holley I knew and I don't think that he would believe this to be worthy of the interruption of a sheriff. So, I just saw that the whole sheriff bit was thrown in there just to again feel in control.
Then I turned my attention to the car, and really showed my distress at the whole situation by clutching my hair and saying, "Man!! How are we to get this car out of here?" Which I made sure all 4 of the anger troop saw. For their tempers were starting to simmer down now, and if they saw the magnitude (magnitude, another word that I threw in to my apology speech) of our plight then they may have the decency to even help us get the car out of there. About that time Mary Kate comes trampling out of the forest from her hiding spot where she hid during the entire rampage. The best idea so far.
The captain had calmed down remarkably and he began to ask the girls if they really believed that he was going to hit me. They just gave him the cold shoulder. The he asked me in normal angry youth minister tone if I believed that he was going to hit me. I admitted yes. He assured me that he wasn't, that he just wanted me to feel that.
Then after a few moments words, those 4 guys left advising us to call a towtruck. Well, luckily Lauren's brother was at camp during that night. So Wess Howell arrives on the scene with this other guy name Chris and they help us out of there. Lauren's other brother, Aaron shows up on and goes and gets the tractor and before long the car is towed out of the ditch. If the right front tire had not sank in the mud then we would have hit the side of some metal siding down there and scratched the car up real bad. We were fortunate there. The car was pulled out, not a scratch noticeable. We thanked Wess, Chris, and Aaron and about 1:30 that night we were out of there.
I have several major regrets. The first, my sister had a video camera the whole time and had not taped any footage of the captain rampage. This would have been the cause of many a night of amusement with our friends. Second, that the captain had won the game. He blocked us in and had the satisfaction of catching us. We lost in our attempt at escape. He had the last laugh. I am sure that somewhere whenever he thinks back on this night, he may get a little angry still, he may feel bad about getting so mad in front of so many people, but I bet underneath it all he smiles and feels such satisfaction, that he had out-maneuvered our escape and out-foxed the fox. Such a thought is too much for me to bear.

Monday, June 13, 2005

The Great Camp Wiregrass Chase

It wasn't very long being back in Alabama until a whole new incident occurred. The summer has broken like a rash that can't be scratched, and what better place to attempt to soothe one's restlessness, than Camp Wiregrass. The Saturday night before camp was to begin, many churches from North Alabama come to this small camp in the middle of nowhere in South Alabama. This camp was the same summer focal point of my growing up. I knew it well. Had many stories from there and knew many people. My sister and I decided to drop by and visit these early arrivals via our style. As most camps go there are legends of a particularly creepy kind that are meant to cause great fear amongst the campers and great amusement for the counselors. One such legend at Camp Wiregrass goes that years and years ago a lone man dressed all in white would appear at night out of the crickets' haunting melodies, and the kudzu wrapped darkness, and would haunt the camp, sometimes screaming, and other times, even creepier just staring, until bounding into the woods and disappearing back into the darkness from which it came. As a young boy, I had my fair share of being scared by such a story. I remember in 4th grade not being able to sleep, a counselor standing over my bed, reassuring me that this Man-In-White, as we call him, does not exist, so that I could finally shut my eyes and rest.
Well, the agonizing impressions of this in my youth, caused me to convert these impressions into fun when I got older. 3 times since i have posed as the Man-In-White. The first time really scaring someone far more than I had hoped to. The 2nd time was a good scare and got some of it on video tape. The 3rd time was a complete and utter failure, I scared no one. In fact a group of skinny high school girls charged me and tried to rip off my white costume so that my identity could be revealed. So this night was going to be my 4th time around, I hoped it would be better than the last time. This proved to be a hopeless wish.
My sister and I assembled a group, of those who would like to join and spectate this event. There were 4 others. Kaki, Mary Kate, and Lauren, and then Gantt. So we 5, 2 guys and 3 girls, arrived about 11 o'clock, Saturday night. Everyone within the camp was settling down for the night. I remember the way we parked and thinking that we should point the car towards the exit of the camp, for we might be in such a hurry and not have enough time to turn around, but I said nothing ignoring this idea. In a pair of white silk long-john pants and a white longsleeve T-shirt with a white towel around my head, I began to do my work. But no one seemed scared. I was begining to think how lame all this was. When I tried one last thing, I walked into one of the buses there beside one of the cabins and began to honk the horn. It wasn't long before a bright spot light beamed on and at that instant I knew intuitively who it was.
It was none other than this hot-headed youth minister from Florence, AL who, if he got me would tear me to shreds with his reprimands. This was the same firebrand that years ago, had overtaken a group of my visiting friends as they were departing one night, and claimed that one of them had yelled something about one of his wife's breasts. He yelled in everyone's face like a lunatic unchained. Henceforth, he was dubbed "Captain Titi" and was the butt of many a humorous storytelling time.
Well, you see, I couldn't let this mad dog get me. So, I took off sprinting across the field. How I knew it was he, I cannot recollect. But I was pretty sure that was his bus that I had been honking the horn in. As I ran as fast as my legs could take me, the spotlight was dead on me, and I could hear this harsh yelling behind me. As the light beamed on me. I laughed a real maniacal laugh as loud as I could. I know that this chase was going to be close. My friends' encounter with the captain, told of how they watched him run at them and how they never saw a human being move so fast. But some people have said that about me, and I knew that this was going to be a good match. As I rose over the hill and then back down the other side, the spotlight lost me. I expected to get to the car and the crew to already be there waiting to speed out of there barely escaping the fury of the captain. But what confusion I received when I got to the car and no one was there. The crew had been sitting, watching, hidden in the dark field about halfway from the point that I began running from. How did they not see the situation and make their way towards the car is beyond me and how I covered over twice as much ground as they did in those few minutes is also a curiosity to me. I waited what seemed to be minutes for them but was really only a few seconds, searching for the keys to the car, to go ahead and crank her up and point her towards the exit. But they were in the pocket of the driver. "Curses", I thought, "this doesn't look good." Just then the spotlight broke over the hill and shined down to where I was at. That means that the captain had reached the top of the hill. Within the bright beams of the spotlight I could see the darkened silhouttes of clumsy figures making their way as fast as they could. It was my group and I knew that it was a no-win situation we were dealing with. The captain was hot on their heels and we finally all got in and cranked the car up you could hear his closeness, and see that the spotlight was so near. In a whirl of dust, the car zoomed forward as the enraged figure shone his light thru the window while yelling something incomprehensible. We left him in that whirl and then noticed that we were turned around and heading deeper into the camp and past all the cabins. We passed by them and circled around heading for the only exit again on the only road at camp and then noticed the horrible situation we were in. The captain had moved his chess piece precisely where he was sure to win the game. He had moved his bus directly in front of the exit, blocking even the smallest car from entering or exiting. We were trapped like mice, and this furious feline was chasing us around, licking his lips, waiting to pounce.
For some reason, the captain pursued us on foot, knowing that there was no way out. So we got around to the blocked exit again and we could not wait long until we would see that spotlight bouncing over the field, the captain charging over to stop us. We again left him in a whirl of dust and got around behind the mess hall. I asked the driver if she needed me to take over for I don't mean to be sexist, but I know how panicky girls get when they're behind a wheel under real pressure. So, I got in the driver's seat, feeling very much in control, and took off around the bend only to be met by the captain waiting there. This time I weaved around some of the grass, turning sharp corners, he kept running out towards me and then I was off again. I made it back to the field behind the mess hall on the other side of the camp and there drove, skidding over the terraces in the field, seeing if there was perhaps another road to get out of there. But all I could find were rows and rows of trees blocking any escape. We then began to see the predicament that we were in. Around and around the camp we went. Everytime the captain caught up with us in his mad delirium I would take off again. It became a game. We were doing it just to spite him. Just to see how many times he could run back and forth across the field in pursuit. Then the thought occurred that maybe he left the keys in the bus. So I drove to the opposite side of the camp and he of course chased us, then we took off towards the bus and the exit. We we got there, no one was there. I hopped out of the car and ran inside the bus. I searched frantically in the dark for the captain's keys. If only he had made that one mistake I would have moved his bus and we would have been out of there. But no such luck. I ran back into the car. This time Gantt had taken over the wheel. The spotlight was approaching fast behind us. Instead of roaring off back into camp, Gantt saw this little ditch on the side of the exit filled with weeds and such. For a truck this might have been no problem, but with a car it was a risk. Gantt made it about half way, and I thought I could taste victory, when the passenger tire sank and we almost hit part of the side. We were stuck and the wheels did nothing but spin furiously in the mud. The light was drawing nearer and nearer. Everyone jumped out and ran. I, not really seeing how that would help, jumped in the driver's seat and began trying every angle with the tires, forwards and reverse, to see if I could still free the car. Nothing but spinning wheels. The spotlight was within feet and the howling yells of an enraged madman was on us. I abandoned any idea of escape. The Captain had us within his claws....
To Be Continued....

Thursday, June 09, 2005

The Conclusion

....and continuing....
Now the day was set as though God up in the heavens had catered it all sending the uniting couple sunlight and cool breezes. -But we were inside most of the day, except for photographs. I wish that I could tell every little detail about the wedding, all the speeches, the color of the bridesmaids' dresses, even the bride's Uncle Eli who surprised everyone by showing up with his 2 foot long handlebar mustache. -But I won't get into any of that. For the girls who read this I don't want to compete with their own imaginations, for every girl has a vision of the perfect wedding and to elaborate may not coincide with that perfect vision. -And for the guys who read this....I wish not to bore you...as well as bore myself. I will just mention that had it been an X-Men themed wedding. I would've bothered to jot all the details down. Besides this whole story of my trip is enormously longer than I had first intended.
Now, I will mention this, all the while Ryan was placed in an awkward situation. I mean, I applaud the guy wholeheartily. He was still traveling, by himself though he's married. His wife Jessica couldn't join for she is pregnant. Wow, what troopers. Most of my married friends have to beg and plead when asking to go to the supermarket by themselves, but across the country, through NYC, and up to Canada, and with Brian Harrison, why maybe there is a way to be wed and not imprisoned. Let Ryan and Jessica Woods be professional marriage counselors. Now, Jessica is due in August. No time soon. No date that Ryan need worry about. He had a good two or three months before he would have to shift into a diaper-changing father. But for some very rare reason, Jessica began to feel something kick inside her very early and at the same time that her husband was off with Brian Harrison in NYC and Canada. So she went to the hospital and there the doctor told her that if she wouldn't have come in then she would've given birth to a very premature baby. She was given a bunch of shots and this kept little Ryan Jr. from joining us in this life too early. As you can guess, this was a whole lot for Ryan to be separated from his wife at a time like this.
My friend Jeremy was married on that fateful day. And who on this earth knows if that day since ages upon ages ago, that day was written where Jeremy and Christine would seal their lives together. Some say no, that there is no such ink that holds and forms what is written to what actually occurs. Others argue, yes, our lives are but the parchment for one powerful penpoint to carve its will into us. All I can tell you in all my thinking and reading is that to believe one wholeheartily without the other is the main error.
So whether some star winked above its rigorous signal for these two souls to be one, or whether the two of them having complete dominion, blew their own decisive love like the power and sound of a trumpet heralding the meeting of two streams merging into one river, it matters little. But on that day this couple left joined to one another like the sunshine and the blue of the sky.
Now as for the wedding, I must mention this for it is humorous. For some reason or other, one in which I cannot at all comprehend, Jeremy made this guy who was legally blind an usher. His name was Frank, a very nice guy, and I'm sure he could welcome and talk to the people he was escorting, in a very kind way. But this doesn't change the fact that he sees fuzzy shapes and colors instead of clear objects and people . I don't know what that sounds like to you. But it's practically a walking disaster for a wedding. It may even be kind of cute and politically correct, that is until Aunt Elmira is lead right smack into the wedding cake. Well, miraculously nothing of the sort happened. In fact, the rumor goes that Frank really isn't blind at all, he just pretends to be, to get certain attention. I should know I wrestled the boy the night before. When we were all deck out in primitive garb on that soccer field. He held his own for a partially blind man, but I eventually took him down. Aha! The miscreant! But to be honest I was rather amazed at his wrestling abilities for such a person with poor vision. Then I found out that he was on a wrestling team back in high school. So, I'm begining to see that perhaps he just fakes the whole thing. Anways, I digress.
The day after the wedding was when Ryan and I were to go back to NYC to catch our flights back home. We didn't have any bus tickets or anything so our mode of transportation was very rare, in fact so rare that I only plan on taking this same ride only one more time in my life. Folks, we hitched a ride with the honeymooners. Yes, Jeremy and Christine were headed down to Florida for their honeymoon, so they said that we could join them on their journey southwards until we got to the Big Apple again. This was a ride of 6 hours through New York State. Ryan thought about busting out his camera again and filming, "Honeymoon 2005" with all 4 of us in it. There are a few things that you must hold your tongue when riding on a long trip with some honeymooners. #1) Don't start chatting about the groom's old flames. I almost did, but stopped myself before it was too late. #2) Whether its the bride or the groom driving, never call shotgun and demand the shotgun rule. #3) Never make subtle comments on how the groom is now whipped. There are countless others, and most of these deal with just the awkwardness that comes with being 2 wayward journeyers catching a ride with brand newly-weds. Oh and I must mention. #4) Peeing in bottles is a no-no.
We arrived at the Johnson's, the people who so graciously took Ryan and I in before. Now, it was getting late, and Jeremy and Christine were very tired. So Mrs. Sherry offered to take them in a night also. So the two honeymooners spent their 2nd night together in a stranger's home. I had to warn Jeremy that his bedroom was next door to their 11 year old son's. He heeded my advice, being as tired as he was. And the next morning, after wishing the honeymooners the best of wishes, Ryan and I left before the honeymooners left on a train for New York. We had a whole day in NYC so we walked by the Empire State Building which costs 14 dollars to get in and the wait is way too long. And then we went to FAO Schwarz, the famous toy store in the movie BIG. That's where we found the giant floor piano where that scene with Tom Hanks and that old guy takes place. After playing on that for awhile, I believe that my trip to New York City was complete. I flew out that night, circling the Manhattan Island and seeing all those buildings reaching towards the heavens with the Empire State Building beating them all. And then way off in the water, almost a speck I could still see the Statue of Liberty.
The End

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

The Restless Night of the Natives

And still a Continuation...
Note: Many rumors have circulated about the tribal customs of Bachelorongo. The below is a rare excerpt from a converted anthropologist. It is known that most wedding parties are silent about their prematrimonial rites but such an exotic account was handed down to me by unmentionable circumstances, therefore I feel compelled to share what dark and barbarous rites are a part of such a fierce culture. -Gus Flichenborg, National Geographic Explorer

The night fell slow. But when it did, down fell all propriety with it. That night all the wild mayhem was to break loose. It was Jeremy Bojarski's final step out of barbaric bachelorhood and into domestic servitude. -And we were the men that would give him the initiation rite, the passage from our savage world of brutish behavior and guttural grunts into a world of matching bathroom towels and pleasant dining room placement sets. The whole theme for the night was going to be a jungle scene, thought up by Jonathan Bojarski, Jeremy's youngest brother. We transformed their basement into a rainforest. We hung green streamers from the ceiling and cleared the area for some candles. Then when the whole tribe was assembled we dressed in grass skirts and bare-chested we applied our war paint. There was about 10 or 11 of us in all. Before Jeremy arrived some girls made the mistake of stopping by to deliver cookies. We chased them all off with hoops and hollers and water pistols, after the cookies were delivered, of course. The female tribe was a rival tribe that was stealing one of our own. Therefore we were going to annoint this stolen one as chief for the night. It was the tribal custom. Of course he didn't know this at this time. But he was soon to find out.
I do not know what Jeremy's thoughts were when he approached the basement and he could hear the primitive chanting along with the bongo drum being hammered and see the shadows move wildly across the wall from the flickering candlelight. I'm not sure he was ready for this. As he walked through the two trees in front of the entrance, I'm sure he thought about stepping back and escaping from the loud cries. Maybe he thought if we really did have superpowers what comfort they might bring him. Nevertheless, before his eyes could take in this wild assembly of savagery, hands were on him, hooping and chanting were in his ears and before long his clothes were stripped off and replaced with a grass skirt and headress. Next the surprised inductee was slapped with warpaint also. Then a scepter was thrown into his hands, and he was seated on a primitive throne around a bunch of candles. Then we all hailed our new chief. A drum beat began to play and we all began to dance around. Jonathan bust forth playing on a set of pan pipes with his racoon-like face paint as we all welcomed our bewildered cheiftain.
Then the tribal games began and each of them was rigged where Jeremy would lose and perform some sort of punishment. This was followed by our very own stripper for the night. Having no money, and because of morals and such we opted out on a very normal seductress and just dressed up Jonathan's dog with a grass skirt and a bra and made her came out and perform, yes, strange, I know. We just wanted Jeremy to have the best bachelor party ever.
After that, we had a devotional and each tribe member wrote down something uplifting for whenever Jeremy might go through some hard times in his marriage, which probably won't ever happen. But just in case ever a difficult moment does fall Jeremy can tear open an envelope and read something encouraging.
Next, came the outdoor games. It had been raining a little bit and it was slightly chilly. But regardless of the weather, ever tribe member slipped on a plastic bag. We were going to go mud or grass sliding. But first we made our way to the Cornwall 7/11 where it seemed that every person under 30 was congregated in that little Canadian town. In here we pull up, 2 car loads full of aborigines. We all fall out and enter all of us rushing over to the slurpy machine and filling up our cups with the stuff. Everyone's staring and laughing in the store. There is a group of girls outside the entrance. Being in the garb that I am in, I can't help but to try sweet talking them. I assure them in absolute confidence, that I bet that they wished they knew where the party was at. They shook their heads saying that I was exactly right. Just then, some other tribe members told me to come on and get in the car. That there's no time for any mating rituals.
Out at the soocer fields, we splashed ourselves with soap and then we tried sliding down this hill. Well, the hill was very small and it wasn't very fun. So, somehow we all ended up on the soccer field in front of the goals playing human soccer. We had a goalie or two that would watch for the rest of us as we would run and try to slide into the goal. Pretty soon, we poured soap all over the grass in front of the goal which made everything slippery. Just then, from out of nowhere, someone yelled and within seconds this huge wrestling match was taking place. Everyone was tackling each other. People on the ground, other people trying to grasp onto others but failing because everyone was coated in soap. I could barely see, my grass headress was in my eyes. But I remember going into a war-like frenzy and taking down several people. That's when someone yelled all the Canadians against the Americans. Now there was only 3 Americans in this group. Myself, Ryan, and this guy named Caleb. But I was ready for it. I hollered, "Bring it on!" But before anyone knew who was who, and before everyone was back on their feet. Someone else yelled that they had lost their glasses in the melee. So the riot stopped and we all began looking for his glasses. We combed through the grass, tuning our ears to the slightest crunch that a pair of glasses makes when a tribe of wildmen pass over it. Well, Mark, the guy whose glasses they were found them. At that point it was decided that we had our fun and that we should probably head back for tomorrow was going to be a long day. As we rode back in the cars, Mark, was talking while driving, when he looked up on his left hand only to cry out in exasperation. He had lost his wedding ring, also. The soap and all the wrestling must of slipped that ring straight off his finger and who knows where on that soccer field it was. All of us got dressed in more suitable clothes, it was started to get pretty cold out there, or least cold enough where you need some shoes and a shirt to be comfortable. Then, we all went back out there searching on our heads and knees, shifting through the blades of grass, covered with soap and bits and pieces of grass skirts hear and there. No ring. We quickly decided to find a wedding ring in this field was impossible during the night, so we would be back out there early the next morning and see if we could find it. Mark, in the meantime would just keep it on the downlow from his wife. This was all very ironic for me, seeing how is wife was none other than the girl I used to date. Oh, the problems with marriage. Like, worrying about rings flying off when you're soaped up and dressed up like a jungle savage wrestling on a soccer field. There should be warnings about such things in premarital counseling.
The next morning, we all got up early, too early...at least for the lack of sleep I'd been getting lately. For we had only a couple of hours until the ceremonies was to begin where Jeremy would then receive his ring that would keep him from ever wrestling in soap-splashed fields without worrying whether he took it off or not. So that morning found us all again on our hands and knees looking for the faintest glitter of gold shining through all that green. I never would have thought 2 years ago that I would be looking for this guy's ring which was the very symbol and token of his and Carmelle's love. I didn't mind at all. I'm happy for the both of them. I like Mark alot, and they both have a little one on the way. But I also like thinking such thoughts like, "What if back then i could've looked into the future and seen me crawling in this large soccer field looking for the covenant ring of the man who belongs to the very women that I was then dating?" Fate is such a funny concept. About the only thing predictable about it is that it is going to be completely unpredictable. And if a man or woman would learn to turn with this strange tide of events, and accept this mysterious rolling of the waters that we call life, he or she will then have learned to be happy. And now it was Jeremy's day to take such a plunge, that his life was about to detour into passages where there is to be no return.
Just then, after almost 2 hours of searching, Mark screams "Hallelujah!" and begins to sing the same hymn aloud with his hand lifted up, clutching his ring he had just found. Everyone was happy and relieved. I thought it befitting that Mark should find his own ring. I mean, it would have been kind of awkward had I found it. But, no worries about that. It seems that I'm content with being such a poor ring finder. I'd be the last to stumble upon a ring even if it was shining there before me. We brushed off the grass and went to get ready for the wedding. And still to be continued....

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

The Making of a Super, Mega, Dynamic, Power-Packed, Lazer-Beaming Wedding

A Continuation…
That whole patch of Canada that I’m familiar with was bustling with preparations for the wedding. –And Ryan and I arrived in the thick of it. Jeremy Bojarski, our friend from Aim was marrying the daughter of a French Canadian carpenter. Her name is Christine, followed by something French that I can’t pronounce, and which is no longer all that important, seeing how now as I write this she’s taken a Canadian rendition of the Polish surname, Bojarski. Their story is an interesting one. Jeremy, age 28, had been a soft-hearted bachelor for quite a while. His first encounter with his soon-to-be wife was nearly two years ago around the same time as my visit to Canada. Christine, and the time, was dating and was very close to another guy who was hanging out with the Cornwall group.
And now some words about this Cornwall group. The church in Cornwall, Ontario is very small. Therefore, community within a group is much closer than what the majority of most Americans believe church to be. The words “faith community” and “sharing lives” are no longer just nice phrases within a church pamphlet or slung up on a billboard sign. These words are hardly uttered. There’s no need. For none of these words need be consciously simulated for they are unconsciously assumed and worn whenever Christianity is lived. Automatic behavior is never asserted or sold to anyone. It lives on its own accord. This is one of the main reasons I thought about moving up there and going to school 2 years ago.
With this, Jeremy has a very imaginative, fun, and completely weird way of depicting this group. What I’m about to write now will make many of you smirk, and many of you shake your heads, but I know that each one of us still has a little kid locked inside our hearts, so if you wish, tap into that kid and read the next paragraph with his or her juvenile eyes. Get ready for this.
Jeremy is a tremendous fan of X-Men, especially for a 28 year old. He collects their comic books and their action figures. Because of the situation of the X-Men, their misfit ensemble of highly diverse superheroes on a mission to make the world a better, more accepting place, Jeremy has paralleled this comic book world with that of Christianity. All of us have our flaws and yet have our gifts, but each works on a team, striving against evil for good. Yes, kind of lame, I know. –But it sure beats the 4 songs, a sermon, and a handshake mentality that seems to be the ideology of the church where I’m from.
Henceforth, this tight-knit group of Canadians all has their own personal X-Men character that they are. Jeremy, who looks and acts like one of the essential leaders, is Cyclops. Now, I must add that in no way does Jeremy actually believe himself to be this laser-squinting superhero, he just sort of pretends, like a child does. Not by running around shooting imaginary beams from his eyes, but by writing emails and signing off as “Cyclops”. He pretends and plays in an adult sort of way. To be completely honest, I find the whole thing kind of intriguing. On my first visit up to Canada, I couldn’t wait to receive my character. That’s how it is, folks. Laugh if you want, call it silly if you’d like. I certainly did when he first told me about his X-Friends. –But it wasn’t long until I was wondering just what superhero I would be. The X-Friends group plays along but not to the same extent that Jeremy does. In their group, there is Jeremy’s brothers, Colossus and Nightcrawler. There is Jubilee, which is Jeremy’s fiancée, Christine. Warlock and Long Shot are new editions. Then there’s Psylock and Jane Grey and a bunch of others that I can’t remember right now. Oh and I used to date Rogue, but she’s married to Quicksilver now. My X within an X-group. Yes, even in mutant group of crime-fighters soap operas are still rampant. And then there’s Professor-X, Jeremy’s father. Storm and Wolverine were captured or killed awhile ago. –But you never know when they may return. As for my character, I was dubbed Cannonball. Because of my blonde hair, my southern heritage, and my quick, impulsive attitude interchanged with a laid-back style, I was transformed into this X-Men character who fell into a mine shaft in Kentucky who flies around like a rocket and who is practically invincible during his fiery flight.
All during the while I was crossing my fingers hoping that Jeremy and Christine’s wedding was going to be an X-Men themed ceremony. I mean, when else could an opportunity occur when a completely original wedding could take place. I’ve been in many weddings thus far. I’m sick of tuxes. I’m ready for a person with true originality to get married, so that their wedding is something that even other people, the guests, remember and not just the couple being wed. Heck, I’d be willing to bet that many couples get a little fuzzy on the details with their own wedding days, seeing how all ceremonies are so uniform. So why not an X-Men themed wedding? The wedding party could all wear our save-the-world get-up and enter the chapel in our characteristic modes of entry. All those characters with a gift of flight could swing in from stage wires. A couple fireworks and a bang, would really do well for those characters with some kind of dynamic superpower. And for those characters with superhuman strength, they could walk up in their respective tux or bridesmaid dress and then with animal savagery could rip it off, their gleaming X-Men costume shining underneath.
Nevertheless, I was disappointed when I found out that Jeremy and Christine had opted for a normal wedding. Jeremy, however, did tie in the whole X-Men them at his rehearsal dinner. He gave his speech, showing his appreciation for both his friends and family, using the X-Men ideal as an illustration. Then all the guys there received a gift from Jeremy. They were dog tags just like the X-Men wear. They had our X-name, our real name, our baptism date, and the X-Men symbol on it. Which is interesting the X is very similar to a cross. Then the nighttime bachelor ceremonies began which was like stepping off into another fantasy world. To be Continued….

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Upon Northern Roads

A Continuation from the Past Two Blogs:
A The destination lay before us like a rare gem that sparkles amidst impossible crevices and caverns. Our minds became turned onto the venture northwards for the wedding cake, bachelor mayhem, and the Bojarski’s and friends, all wrapped up into what seemed to be, that faraway land, Canada. The whole next leg of our journey proved its impossibility in the frustrating hours. It was already decided that Ryan and I could not rent a car and embark by sedan. Ryan was too young to rent for a cheap enough price and I was short my license, thanks to Alabama’s Department of Transportation Safety and my lead foot. By train was a likely possibility but the train was not leaving through the night and we planned to be across the northern borderline by Thursday morning. Hitchhiking? This ran on a completely unpredictable time frame. Nice if we had a month. We had one night. So we were forced into the last choice, the absolute final resort that anybody getting anywhere would fall back on. –That is Greyhound Bus. We had done our research and knew that Greyhound left at 11:30 that same night and that tickets should be available straight from NYC to Montreal.
So come an hour or two before bus time we stroll into NYC’s rough bus station only to find that bus tickets to Montreal are completely unattainable for us. You see, from what Ryan and I knew about crossing the border, no passport was necessary, however for some strange reason Greyhound does not sale tickets up to Canada without their passengers showing their passports. Well, I had mine. It was the only documentation I had since my license had been suspended. But Ryan didn’t think to bring his. How could he be blamed? He’s from Washington, if anyone should know of Can-Amer relations it should be him. For he is practically Canadian himself, at least to the folks down from around my neck of the woods. However, Greyhound, that stubborn mastiff stood unyielding and unreasonable and drooling in their ridiculous, guard dog policies. It mattered little that the actual border patrol would let us pass through, it was just Greyhound’s policy; no passport, no ticket to Canada. What a stupid bind all this was! Two guys going to Canada, one has a license but not a passport, the other idiot has a passport but no license. Sounds like the beginning of a bad Canadian joke, “How many Americans does it take to cross the most peaceful borderline in the history of mankind, Eh?” Definitely more than two, obviously.
We were backed up against the odds. We had no other option. So we saw about buying tickets for the most northern town in the state of New York that was closest to our Canadian destination. This town was Messina. I had been there before. I had shopped in its dollar store. It was where my first entry back into the US on my return from Russia took place. This was all fine and great but we would be in Canada a day late, and the bus ride would be a long, laborious ride of 11 hours.
The next morning we got up and headed for the bus station. The bus nearly packed with some very rough looking characters going from NYC to Albany. And before long we were off under the waters in the tunnels that lead from Manhattan Island to the New Jersey side. Now, I’m not that familiar with the Northeast but I believe that in order to go to Canada from NYC, it would mean going straight north and hitting no other states along the way. New Jersey lay to the southwest of New York. It began to puzzle me after 2 hours of seeing New Jersey state tags and New Jersey billboard signs. Where in the world was Greyhound taking us? Just then rumors began to circulate in irritated murmurs around the bus that we were lost. Lost?! I laughed just like I was in the David Letterman show again. How could we be lost? We’re on a Greyhound bus with an experienced driver. You don’t get lost on a Greyhound bus! That’s like an airplane pilot getting the shivers from heights. It’s absurd. Just then the bus driver got on an intercom and asked, “It seems that we have missed a turn, does anybody happen to have a map?” The whole bus talked among themselves in agitated whimpers. Tempers flared. Then a bald-headed truck driver came to the rescue from sitting and talking very loudly in the back. He got up very dignified, answering the bus station version of “Is there a doctor in the house?” which runs, “Is there a truck driver on board?” He mossied up towards the front and showed the confused bus driver where the shortcuts were and also in what direction we were supposed to be going. People were angry in the New England sort of way. Then the bus driver lashed back, feeling like she needed to defend her incompetence from the knowledge of others. She spoke in the intercom saying something about had we rather be back waiting in a parking lot somewhere? I couldn’t understand her. At that point Ryan and I were so caught up in the excitement of the moment that we went through my wallet and looked for phone numbers of people we could call and share with them are exciting predicament. There is nothing like knowing that you’re that rare friend who calls one’s other friends at random times only to announce that you are somewhere lost in New Jersey on a Greyhound Bus. I love being that guy. –And I honestly believe my friends deep down somewhere wish they could be that guy also.
The bus hauled itself through the Hudson River Valley, which was known through the stories of Washington Irving. This is the mysterious country where Rip Van Winkle was said to have made his long, undisturbed slumber. This is also Sleepy Hollow country where a headless horseman was said to wander. Well, in no time we were back on track. The road took us northwards, finally to Albany. At Albany nearly 3/4ths of the passengers arrived at their destination, but for us we weren’t even a quarter of the way there. Because of the delay at getting lost and everything, we had missed our next bus. Not to worry. Greyhound had ways to assuage everyone’s anger that had missed their bus due to their driver’s mistake. All remaining passengers that were going into Upstate New York piled onto one bus. Before long we were all being transported off, guided, thankfully by another driver. Immediately upon getting back on board, I saw these 3 girls rather young looking. Then, I heard them speaking. And without a doubt, through the accent of their foreign tongue, I heard that long-lost Russian language that I haven’t heard in so long. I said, “Ez Vanee”, which means, “Excuse me” as I squeezed past them, and they immediately stared and laughed. Then we all began talking. I couldn’t believe that I remembered so much, let alone knew, so much Russian. They spoke decent English as well. They all turned out to be only 3 days into America and were going to work in these lodge-like camps in the Adirondacks for the summer. So there I was, I couldn’t believe my luck, after all the trouble I’d been through, here I sat on a bus rolling through some of the most beautiful looking hills with 3 Russian girls giving you their undivided attention. They were all 19 with prettiness streaming from their eyes. And that’s when the enticement of the minute almost subdued me. Yes, I moved over beside one of them so stealthily and I began to show them my passport and all the places I’d been. I was sitting next to this particular scrumptious blonde with chocolate eyes. Somewhere inside me a battle raged. Crazed ideas popped into my head. Before long I noticed as we flipped through our passports that I had my hand laying on her knee. Goodness! What was I doing? I looked over at Ryan and he was talking with his wife on his cell phone. “Well, he’s got his release, why can’t I have mine?” I thought. How should I go about this? Should I begin to talk lower and lower and until she is leaning over so close, her ear inches away from my lips, and then…and then what? The whole bus is nearly empty, especially in the back. With a giggle and a bemused expression I just might be able to hook this one and invite her for a little flirtation, all alone in the back. The thought of it all, arms entwined with this cute Russian lass in the back seat of a bus as we went over hills and under hills cutting our way through the unknown countryside. Why? From my experience love is fleeting; love is inconstant. Let’s burn it all the way till it’s doomed end. The heart has fires that blaze for a short instant, and then die out due to the winds. Love is spinning like the wheels of the bus that go round and round. Dear unknown foreigner let me hold you in my arms and kiss your eyelids and whisper of unattainable destinations. The highway stretches and weaves around the bend. That mountain out the window, there, in the distance will never look the same as it does now. Seconds later all will have changed. These bus wheels keep spinning around and I wonder what it will be like just to hold that mist that crowns those mountains; but no, it will pass by as everything does. I can only enjoy its brief enrapture as it rolls off the Adirondack mountainside. So, let our hearts enjoy each’s brief interlude of mist-like engulfment. I that mountain of rustic beauty and you that cloud of mysterious delight which topples off the cliffs whenever the winds blow. And our experience…let that be this bus zigzagging through such awe-induced scenery. Just then…I awaken from my daydream to realize what I am thinking. Back in forth I fight. Until I am certain that if they were to ride but an hour longer, such a thing might occur. Then it is their stop at Lake George and we swap email addresses and I give her this blogsite. Oh no! She might be reading this! Oh well……yes, my dear dyedushka…only an hour longer and what a time we might have shared.
We ride on and on going past steeper mountains and breath-taking scenes. We change buses again and this time on Trailways which is a better company than Greyhound. I told Ryan what I had the idea to do back there with those Russian girls; he responds…how stupid it would have been. We begin talking to the bus driver. This time he is a really good New Yorker and goes on and on if asked a question. At 8:00 pm we finally arrive at Messina. We’re dropped off and the Canadians met us and pick us up to go across the border. We ride on the bridge over the St. Lawrence River talking about our trip and ready to be in Canada and in bed for I only had 2 hours of sleep the night before….to be continued….

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

In the Footsteps of Kramer Perhaps

We had made it to the location of the devastating catastrophe 9-11. It seemed that there was this huge gap in the sky when you looked up for you could actually see buildings many blocks away, which was strange for Manhattan. Perhaps the neatest thing was on the site of Ground Zero the only thing left standing from the twin towers was the structure of a cross made from the intersection of two beams. After that we went to St. Paul’s Chapel less than a block away. This is the site of one of New York’s oldest churches still standing and the site of NYC’s hospitality and concern reaching out during 9-11. It was as though two periods in history converged and met into one brilliant testimony and symbol. The neatest thing here, I thought, was the same footstool that George Washington had kneeled to pray on, was the same footstool that the construction crew members during the terrorist raid would receive foot massages from working 15 hour shifts digging through the rubble of the towers.
Then we found ourselves trudging down Wall Street. Earlier that day, I had thrown away my old shoes and bought new ones, for my feet where killing me, and those old ones were falling apart. We also had seen the Statue of Liberty from a distance and then we decided to go get our bags from the library. For you see, the day before we just decided to leave our bags there over night. We had asked the security guard what would happen if we “accidentally” left our bags there. She said nothing. We could just get them the next day. Then we immediately had the idea to get just the essentials for the night and then recheck our bags in the next cloakroom on the other side of the library. They would never know of our plans to remain free and burdenless.
Well that afternoon we walk in there and then we come to find out that the NYCPL had confiscated our bags. They had taken them below into the depths of the NYCPL security room. Just then the chief of the security approached us and seemed to be very upset in a New York sort of way. She chastised us for leaving the building yesterday and “forgetting” that our bags were still there. She got on her walky-talky and said a few code words and numbers that I couldn’t decipher and then she said very sternly, “Follow Me”.
Ryan and I followed her very worried about this turn of events. We went through what seemed to be mazes down below in old halls where no regular civilians were allowed. Well, if you have read any of my past blog entries you will know that I happen to specialize in library espionage and at coaxing the nerves of many a librarian. So, I began to do my stuff. “So this is the same library where Ghostbusters was filmed, right?” “Why, yes, it is.” She responded changing her tone and surprised about my appeal to her workplace. She then asked if we had seen the main library hall. Ryan piped up that we had. Then we got to the security dungeon, and the room was filled with their agents yelling at us that we were in so much trouble. As they berated us for our forgetfulness, I finally broke down, “Okay, okay…you’ve got me. I’ve had overdue books before.” They erupted in laughter. It was a way to end on a humorous note, I’m just glad that I didn’t spill the beans about my slumber party in the library. Who knows what torture rack they have set aside for such vagrants. We grabbed our bags being certain that they had searched them and knew that I preferred boxers to briefs. Then we set off relieved back into the streets of Manhattan.
We at first wanted to see about catching a Yankee’s game that night. But it was cold, wet and drizzling, so we opted on a Broadway show. Before, we thought it was impossible to get into a Broadway show, being on the tight budget we were on. Then we began to go from theatre to theatre an hour or two before showtime to see what seating they had available. And luckily, our 3rd theatre was a success. We got in to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang for a fourth of the original price. To be honest, I had heard people talk about Broadway and say that it is a must see on a visit to New York, but I really sort of pushed aside their advice. But now I can truly say that it is all worth it. It seems to me that New York City is a rough, tough, gritty city with crime, shams, fronts, and exposure to the cynicism of life. To live in NYC one must be pragmatic, distrustful, and skeptical. But there is this gold streak that runs through the heart of the city. It’s where people leave the cold hardened city streets and step into a completely different world where everything magical and wonderful takes place. Every event is met with song. It is there among the parted curtains that the power of belief is met, where the triumph of love is seen, where the beauty of dreams are celebrated. For a short moment in time, when the magic of the stage erupts, the people of the concrete, are transformed into believing children. And for just one brief moment, life is a song, fate is kind, and the end is joyous resolution. Life is no longer how our eyes saw it that day, but how we instinctively believed that it should and might one day actually be. Then with applause, a final laugh, a wiped tear, we leave our seats and push through the streets again with the faint murmuring of some subtle song playing in our heads of some magical realm that our hearts seek for, wondering if such a place ever exists.
Ryan and I only stepped out of the theatre to be apprehended by this guy who looked decent enough but he seemed to be too amicable to for NYC and therefore we began to distrust him. He took us to this pizzeria on Broadway and got us some sort of discount. Then, I looked at him point blank and asked him what he wanted. He sounded offended and said that he was just doing a nice deed. Who knows what he was after? He walked off either truly after nothing or realizing that we weren’t letting our guard down.
Then we had an incident in the train station. Ryan had brought his camcorder and we thought to bust it out and interview some one about NY. We saw this short looking oriental police officer in the train station and we thought he was a prime candidate for such an interview. So we approached him Ryan with his camera on, and myself with an imaginary microphone and I said, “Hey, could we ask you a few questions?” The cop just glared this ugly glare, shooting me with his slanted eyes, and not saying a word. To break the awkward silence, I said, “So what do you love about New York?” Then the cop got angry and started to whip out his ticket book and saying that he should write us a citation and confiscate our camera. We immediately responded that we were just ignorant tourists and that we were sorry (for who knows what) so we said all this while trying to escape. We escaped barely and that put us on a damper about the whole camera business.
Then we were to catch a bus that night to Canada, but this proved much harder than we had ever believed it to be. I’ll detail all these events later.