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

Friday, September 29, 2006

My First Crush Ever Part II

A continuation from my post previous...being pressured and threatened from a hidden source...the author takes up his thoughts, memories, keyboard, pen, etc. assembling them all helter skelter onto this blank screen writing thus:

My fingertips cradled the magic 8 ball much like anybody would do if there really was a clairvoyant toy out there giving birth to our maybe sobbing, maybe smiling...but certainly delicate fate. The outer shell of this toy ball was hard and heavy like the life that some of us will be crushed under; inside, the liquid was all light and fluidy like the life still others of us may float blissfully through. Either way, this ball was supposed to crack open its far-seeing opinion and give it to me. And at that early age, the only question I asked, which I repeat again, was "Will Jenny Donaldson marry me?"

For a mind much like my own...there are times that details are understandably lacking. It's a worthy charge...one which I cannot deny. Most of the times forgetting details matter little. It's the idea or the theme...the feeling, the picture, or the spirit...that's what matters. But then there are those times that I forget the details that very much matter and are very much supplementary to the spirit and theme. This is the case with this particular story. Given all the climactic rise, and the mystical reaching, and the trance-like chase,...dang it all, if I can't remember what that 8 ball told me. All that I recall was that I was a boy...I liked Jenny...and that I knocked on a magical door for the powers of Heaven to reveal something to me. And perhaps that's what matters...the touch of this door...not what I found behind it.

And did it really make a difference what the 8 ball told me? Not at all. This makes a valuable point. When a person is infatuated you can send the clouds, the rains, the stars, and sun to tell that person whatever they will...but our minds, the most reckless element in nature, will always find a way to over-ride these signals and straightway believe what it wants to believe. If the ball said, "My sources say yes."...my heart would rock and pound in joyful reception. If the ball said, "No. Never." I would think, "Stupid ball, what does it know. It's just a toy." Such were the ways of that boy; such are the ways of this man. Although, I will admit I think the answer was something positive but yet still questionnable. Let my digression conclude with this moral, in childhood we care more about the question than the answer...and we play . In adulthood, we care more about the answer than the question...and we stress.

So whatever verdict I was prescribed...I do not think it was very big. Our hearts have a better memory than our heads. I did not feel the stars burst around me; I nearly read them. I did not clutch my heart to keep it from beating out of my chest. That age hadn't yet come. I just smiled, subtly, and again peeked nervously about me, making sure that I was still alone. My older brother would have too much of a fun time if he found the oracle that I was given.

Time passed and at that age it slugs along making no progress. My 3rd grade rolls around and summer camp is before me. I found my little self in the backseat of my family's vehicle bounding on the gritty road to the camp. The sunlight pierced through the window with a lusty haze and glow. The entire backseat is a massive empty room that swallows a boy whole. I sat eyes and head thrust upwards to lift my eyes high enough to peer, to glimpse at the broad, bold world outside. My little legs daggling from the enormous seat. My eyes only able to view the tall pines swaying proudly across the blue fierce sky. The surest scene of childhood is thus: the innaccessibilty of the world within, invaded by the call, the wonder, and the grandeur of the gigantic world without.

In between such lapses of curiosity that the sun sends through the windows in brilliant shafts, and while the automobile ran along this road to Camp Wiregrass, my mind was ever aware that Jenny would be at this camp, and that I must take a date to the banquet Thursday night, as sure as this wide world knocking at the car windows in wonder...... was large, alive, and beckoning.

This newfangled idea of the banquet was looming foremost. The banquet was my first exposure at "going out" with a girl. It was always Thursday night. Tradition dictates that a boy should ask out a girl. Then they'd both dress up and eat dinner together real formal and adult-like. There were always older counselors orchestrating the matches between both the clueless boys and the clueless girls. Indeed, there were some of these counselors who prided themselves in such successful matches. Successful being "Johnny held Katie's hand today" or "Susan and Michael have sat next to each other in chapel for the past 3 days." To be such a matchmaking maestro with these very young pupils who were completely oblivious to what sort of madness they would one day be apart of and they were mimicking, was something to be proud of. There is something wholly God-like in matchmaking. It is weaving hearts together...spinning destinies interwined...sculpting unbreakable love...and molding innocent lives into the future. It wears the disguise of a humble act...but it bears the grappling for an extraordinary power underneath. Though, it is not such a bad thing...for its our innate thirst for control sublimated in our awe for love. Jenny and I had one such delegate from Eros. He had gotten news through one of my informants at that age (words had leaked from the ranks of my boyhood squad) that I liked a particular girl. So the plan was set. The scheme was weaved. Even before I had entered the camp.

Immediately, getting to the camp, I see Jenny. She was standing over by the air hockey machine. She smiles and then what sight befell my open eyes was the fact that Jenny had reached that transitioning age that we all go through. But she went through it all at once. The girl had lost her two front teeth. They were gone. She was just plain gapped tooth. I couldn't believe it. It ruined everything. The girl that I was supposed to rescue was not supposed to be gapped-tooth. The matchmaker approached me and told me that he knew that I liked Jenny and that I should ask her to the infamous banquet. I say "No, she's ugly. Her teeth have been knocked out." So that summer at camp I didn't go with anyone to the banquet. I didn't care. And I never thought about Jenny Donaldson in that way again, even when they grew back. And so concludes the story of my first crush ever.

But as I was saying, I saw her the other day. She was with her fiancee. She's to be married this month. Oh well. I guess the magic 8 ball said "no"and I guess this makes for one poor ending, but what do you expect? I was in 3rd grade. And it was only my first exposure to puppy love....not to any affectation deeper...which is a whole another long, long story.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

My First Crush Ever

I saw her the other day. She came walking up about the time that the shadows were shifting and the light from the sun touched the marble slabs on the ground making it gleam gold before my swimming eyes. My back was against the tower as I jumped up and both of us recognized the other.
The Vulcan Tower...one of the few touristy things to do in Alabama...and I work there. As a tried and true Alabama tourist site would do; it does none other than attract tried and true Alabama tourists ...which would bring Alabamians from all the swamps, hills, cottonpatches, peanut fields, and even Alabama suburbia to meet at this rare shrine of Alabama (actually Italian) architecture. Where I meet the hordes of Alabama as well as the hordes from the very, very, small world (I'm from Alabama you see) outside the state. It would be no coincidence to meet my first puppy love at this place...at this site...beside this tower....below this iron god.

Her name was Jenny Donaldson. Her parents were the close friends of my parents. She had an older sister that was my older brother's age. And she was about my age...maybe a few years the younger. I don't remember much. I can't remember much. I must've been about 4 or 5. A boy at this age doesn't give much regard to his likings for a girl. He may be ostracized or ridiculed by the other boys of his Stars Wars collecting gang for such a thing. But I liked her nonetheless. Now, it was in no way the same passions that were to make fuller impressions when older. It was not that sweeping feeling that paints the world all wonderful. In no way was it the swaggering melancholia, the blessed pang, the drunken attentiveness, the sublime panic. Such love songs are reserved for later in life when our world is all rational and ordered by logic...then our chiefest delights are latched onto the irrational, and the absurd. The life of a man is such that from the beginning he will forever be systemizing himself to be in control and to not look like a fool. But the moment that that sweet look is delivered from those eyes...the man abandons his lessons of rationality and becomes a creature of chaos who in every way takes on the role of the fool.

But childhood is a different case. The kid's world is flooded in the irrational and absurd. His imagination is less confined. It's open and embraces both earth and sky, both dark and light. It's not fixed and aimed at one single point. He plays at the threshold of the incomprehensible with every object he picks up. He doesn't attempt to wed himself to the sublime; he hopscotches within it. And so his loves and affectations are more rational and practical. There are no games, no artifice, no hiding of the self, no self-deceit, nor pride, grudges, envy, and manipulation. If he hurts, he cries. If he is happy, he laughs. That is all. There is no need to second guess about him. His dependency is to the exact degree to which he must be dependent. Therefore a child's affections are practical...they are the most healthy.

Well, I don't know what it is was about her that made me turn my head. I mean I would just assume play with my Transformers. All the other girls at that age would come into Sunday school class all wrapped up in what looked like huge marshmallows. Their mothers would make them wear these enormous, bouncy dresses that had all this excessive fluffiness springing from their shoulders and every place that years later these same girls will try keep off even the slightest hint of volume. And then their bows that were attached so keisha-like to the top of their heads made them much taller than us boys. Which is the one offense a boy will not suffer and cannot suffer. That his schoolmate, a girl, may receive better grades then he, this is all right and rather to be expected. That this schoolmate may even be a favorite among all the adults, that merits nothing in the eyes of a boy. But that this girl be taller by several inches even if its because one of those gargantuan bows, this is the unpardonable trangression. And so begins the boy's first long, back and forth, adventure into misogyny. But apart from this dainty rustle of the Sunday school pageant there was Jenny...and I guess I cannot remember why I started liking her but it may well have been because of denim, for Jenny....ahh, Jenny wore jeans. And who knows she may have had gone the extra bit of winning my admiration by bearing grass stains on the knees of those jeans. For grass stains, were every bit a status symbol among us boys. I hardly had a pair that didn't escape this praiseworthy fate. While our parents were busy accumulating green dollars inside their pockets for buying bigger houses and driving shiny cars for their sense of worth; we were busy accumulating green splotches to go on the outside of our pants for our sense of worth. And a girl that wore green stains on her pants jeans was something to be marvelled at.

As noted before, I do not recall much of this crush...maybe because it didn't inconvenience me none. Nor did it lead anywhere. Back then, a boy had his crush. It had nothing to do with a relationship. It was all about role-playing in that fantasy land that we visited so much. Or at least role playing in our imaginations. Every boy was to be a hero...and every hero was to have his lady that he would rescue when time saw fit. But for the time being all a boy could do was wrestle with the other boys and play with his He-Man characters. All that the boy knew about relationships in fact was that the hero must rescue the lady. And so several boys, including myself, already had a girl picked out to be that lady. And it certainly wasn't anything to worry about. The only thing to worry about was that the girl would find out that she was to be the lady that you rescued before you actually did. And this you could not let happen. To face the dragon, the evil villian, or whatever monster you had to face to rescue her was not anywhere as frightning as that she may find out.

However, one day, at her parents' house, I remember this scene very vividly. It was one of those dinners where our family traveled over to visit her family. I recall one of those magic 8 ball fortune tellers that you ask a question to and then you shake and a little triangle would float up revealing the answer to the question. Well, my parents never bought us one of those balls. So naturally, as most toys that kids do not themselves possess, it always intrigued me. While all the adults were at the table talking (I don't know why they travelled all that way just to talk) and while the other kids were in the playroom (getting down to the real business of what makes these dinners worth going to.) I crept into the den where the mysterious 8 ball sat like a magical orb waiting to open up portals of truth to me. With sweaty palms and quiet breath, I clutched the darkened oracle....and spoke in whispered incantations,..."Will Jenny Donaldson marry me?" ....As my lips pronounced that sweet name I made sure I was extra quiet for she was in the next room playing "kitchen" probably and what if she knew I was asking her very own magic 8 ball about her being my lady that I rescue. The fear was enough to make any normal boy paralyzed. Then I awaited what this sphere that contained the pronouncement of the stars had to say. I shook and shook my destiny with my small hands....attempting at that young age to force it to cough up its divining knowledge.

The triangle bobbed in the magic ball, my eyes hung impatiently on the brink of my life being unfurled before them. A moment of restless mysticism and my predestination was sealed within a phrase, a simple sentence....of which I must admit catapults this story into an even longer procession of words and sentences which strenously begs the reader's attention as well as my own. So, I intend to leave this exhaustible story where it is and to pick it back up when those nostalagic fires or burning brightly once again. Until then......To be continued.....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Revels in Literary Nerddom

I normally don't like most online tagging procedures. You know, when you receive random questions and you must turn around and answer those random questions with revealing answers. However, my friend Jovan just sent me one....on books. And being a lover of books I couldn't help but cooperate. His list is at www.jovanbarrington.blogspot.com . And my list is going to be below. However, I'm gonna bend the rules a bit and allow myself the freedom to exceed the specified number. Where else can I show off my nerdiness?

1. One book that changed your life:
Ralph Waldo Emerson's Essays...I remember reading them at 17. A certain light seemed to dawn on my me then. His words seemed to resonate with certains truths and impressions that were pounding within me...but I never saw these truths placed into words until I read Emerson. This should be the definition of greatness.
That...or Dosteovsky's Brothers Karamazov. I don't know if I would've ever gone to live in Russia if I would've never opened this book. And this is my answer when people ask me what my favorite book is.

2. One book that you've read more than once:
I think out of all novels...I've read The Hobbit the most times. That is if you exclude any books of the Bible or the plays of Shakespeare.

3. One book that you'd want on a desert island:
I think that I'll borrow G. K. Chesterton's idea and say, "Dummy, why what other book but The Complete Guide for Getting Off Desert Islands....?

4. One book that made you laugh:
Jerry Seinfield's Letters from a Nut.

5. One book that made you cry:
The Divine Conspiracy. The first chapter where Dallas Willard writes about the supreme joy of God.

6. One book you wish you'd written:
Cervantes Don Quixote. It would almost be considered my autobiography....or perhaps, the book of Genesis. As a writer, I wonder what it would be like to sit before a blank page thinking how to start the whole thing off. " Once upon a time...Nope, that won't do. Too trite. How about...It all started with a....Uggh. Scratch that out." And then suddenly that divine inspiration hits and your hand is writing...In the beginning...and so on and so forth and that inspiration doesn't relent before you've got one great masterpiece before you.

7. One book you wish had never been written:
Dare I write The Da Vinci Code? ...but while I'm on that line...probably any work by Nietzche or Betrand Russell...the world would be in a much better state I'd betcha.

8. One book you are currently reading:
Petrarch and His World. It's a biography on the Italian Renaissance poet, Francesco Petrarco.

9. One book you've been meaning to read:
G. K. Chesterton's The Everlasting Man. It's a book on Christ's role compared to all historical religions and cultures. It's claimed to have had a great hand in converting C.S. Lewis to Christianity.

10. One book that if possible you could be a main character in:
Dumas' The Three Musketeers or Lord Byron's Don Juan.

11. One book that if possible you could hang out with the main character:
Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn.

12. One book that if possible you could make out with the main character:
Jane Erye of course! What sort of idiot wouldn't.

13. Tag Others: Will Dockery, Flavil Yaekley, Jonathan Towell, Herb Tarlic, Adam Newby, Hugh Hefner, Don King, and Kareem Abdul Jabar

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Always A Gyspsy

It wasn't long until I had found that Italian course that I've been looking for so that I can officially graduate. (Bah, the annoyance of it all.) So I've made the move, I've executed the migration, I've jumped the jump, once again, to another city, to another place, to a whole fresh chapter in my life. I've moved into Birmingham, the largest city in Alabama, the closest thing we've got to a metropolis. I live within walking distance of the heart of downtown. I attend Italian 102 at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. Which is downtown also. I reside in a house that my friend Adam Newby moved into back in April. We were actually living together in Murphreesboro, Tennessee, during the winter, when changes sort of materialized out of no where; he falls in love with this girl living in Birmingham, Kara Lipsmeyer, and all of a sudden, he's got a new job, his found a new house, and he's got wedding arrangements hanging overhead. And changes affected me as well; I fall out of love after a huge falling out and run off to Mexico. Same early spring winds of change; completely different outcomes.

But now, Adam and I reunite once again...and I won't move out of the house until October 28th, his big day. With only one course to take, and school loans hounding me like a plague. I look for yet another job to pay bills, and hopefully catapult me into something interesting. I know that after the Wafflehouse, it's like singing karaoke after Pavarotti. But within less than a week, I find a very interesting job, and something far easier than the Wafflehouse. I work at the Vulcan Park Everyone from Alabama knows precisely what I'm talking about. But no one outside Alabama has a clue.

The Vulcan is this gigantic iron statue (the largest cast iron statue in the world) that stands on a tower overlooking the entire city of Birmingham. He's the Roman god of the forge for Birmingham's historical identity is wrapped up inside the iron and steel industry. He's also, to date, the largest statue ever made in the U.S...and the humorous part is that he stands in nothing but a blacksmith's apron. His bare buttcheeks can be seen towering above neighborhood after neighborhood...and I get to work there, in the gift shop, in the front desk of the museum, and in gathering tickets for people going up the Vulcan tower. Don't hate me because I'm so Vulcan lucky.