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

Monday, January 15, 2007

Beaches, Blasts, and Bounding Escapes

Life cannot get any better than the beautiful collision of the beach, hundreds of Christians together, and…this still very important ingredient….fireworks. Without these things…well, we’d probably mourn more and praise less. But no! such gifts do exist and may each of them in their own separate way woo us to opened-eye wonder, and let all of them mixed together make us all cheer in grin-faced symphony.

The day was yesterday and I happened to be down at the beach. -Panama City Beach, Florida where the white sands and sparkling waters charm the masses of those who have the slightest tinge of aesthetic longing. Where this time of year, the only masses are those that are of a particular snowbird species, flocked in bridge-clubbing, RV-formations from Michigan, Minnesota, and Canada, and such cold places. –And also the rare occasion that a Christian organization has the brilliant idea to host a huge beach blast for Christians in this praise-provoking and reflective surrounding. It is a smart move…dozens and dozens of college Christians rushing to the coast when the party-crowds of spring and summer have not awakened from their pagan hibernation. A Christian is he who is both dead and fully alive to everything around him. It’s all a matter of what is dead and what is alive. A non-Christian can only act in appropriate seasons of death and life; he knows no other meaning but the rhythms by which he is carried. Therefore a Christian, can mourn in the season of indulgence, and so can he laugh in the season of dearth. A good Christian should always be willing to sing his heart out in winter and, yes, celebrate and shoot off fireworks when there is no real holiday for it. (That’s my excuse for the following story and if you want my bluntness then I guess I will have to say that my maturity level may not be a pole vault in progress, but at least we had fun…good, clean fun for the most part.)

God was kind to us. Our stay at the beach was high in the 70’s with blues skies that were ripped apart by the magnificence of a bright, beautiful sun. Even the nights were pleasant. And it was one of those nights about 6 or so just after the sun had given his lime lit stage performance to the subtle stars that I called my friend Nathan.

“You think it’s time?” “I think now is perfect.”
“I’m going to get some lighters.” “Okay, I’ll be with the stuff down on the beach.”

The plan was quite obvious. Nathan and I were pretty much veterans in these sort of affairs. We had manned fireworks tents together in the summer. And we knew quite a lot about our merchandise. We also knew the appeal, zeal, and effect that explosions in the air had on people. We called a few others and before long we had a total of five people congregating on the beach with an artillery tube lying at a 75-degree angle with the base buried in the sand. Among them there was Monte Baugh from my hometown who was a part of the Auburn crowd. There was David Duer the more mature of us, who somehow we talked him into coming out there. And then there was Ross a young guy from Tennessee.

Now these were not just simple firecrackers. These were as loud and as big as you can get without a special permit. Our main selection of awe-delivering weaponry was called Excalibur. For the most part, these types of fireworks woke up narcoleptics and were probably somewhat illegal inside all city limits. The first shell was dropped into the tube. The fuse gave a fight to be lit. The anticipation was intense. The ocean yawned ahead in patient eagerness. The fuse was lit. The sparks flew lighting up the white sands. I could feel my heart pounding to the ocean’s tempo that was mere seconds away from being interrupted. The sparks ate its way down into the tube. A moment of pause while we cupped our ears….and BOOM! The shotgun sound echo across the sea as the shell rocketed into the night air, following by the 2nd bang tearing the darkness into dazzling light. And there from behind us, where the hotel towers arose a chorus of applause and cheer resounded. We had ourselves an audience. All three hotel towers came outside to see what the noise and lights were. We had hitherto, believed that we were nearly alone and that our pyro-toybox was only for us. But we had neglected to realize just how many rooms and balconies there were overlooking the ocean in the entire Edgewater hotel complex.

A second artillery shell was dropped into to the tube and the same struggle against the winds to get the fuse lit and another boom echoed. The 2nd report this time was multicolored and the crowd again hoorayed the fires in the skies. My heart leapt with joy. I jumped up and down like a kid in glee.

We tried other things. A humble spinner and then a full cake load of 500 grams, a multi shot, that shot shell after shell up madly into the air. All the while, the cheers behind us oohed and aahed and clapped their hands begging for more. Then more of trusty Excalibur as both our audience and ourselves got drunk with sight and sound and the smoke-filled air. Just then David got a phone call, a tip that security was on their way out there. We did what any rational person would do if he is honest with himself. Each of us grabbed a container and ran.

Our escape had us running parallel to the pool area to get off the beach. The audience from their balconies could see everything and just when we thought that our applause was over there erupted from the 3 towers such cheering and hooraying that I felt I was in the World Cup chasing a soccer ball down the field. The crowd couldn’t get enough of us and we couldn’t get enough of them and we would cheer back at them with the containers full of fireworks and the security on our tails. Nathan had these flip-flops that worked like snowshoes propelling him across the white sands like a frilled lizard. My shoes are good for hiking put not sprinting across sand. I could feel the sand multiply in my shoes. A spectator and beloved cheerer later informed us that there was a security officer watching the whole thing and he was nearly waiting by the fence as we ran by. But we passed him so quickly that he soon gave up chase.

David Duer, had the smoothest means of escape. He just walked down to the beach as if he had nothing to do with us. For the security’s main attention was drawn to those of us who were frantically scurrying away like a herd of antelope. Then Monte had the bright idea to split up and confuse them, so he detoured from the rest of us.

The 3 of us ran, Nathan, Ross, and I into the front parking lot of one of the hotels. We stashed our firework containers under this white car and then we split up. Nathan had spotted the taillights of a real police officer. And we slowed our running down to catch our breath. We climbed many floors and witnessed the police car stopping random cars in the parking lot checking them for firework wielding miscreants. But we hid out and let things cool down for a bit and after we saw the police leave the complex, we returned to the white car where our stash was hidden and to our disappointed eyes, the fireworks were gone. We found the others and recounted our stories and decided that losing the fireworks was well worth the entire adventure. I have had many adventures in my life, but none that were watched and cheered so marvelously before. One feels like a sort of heroic rebel and one looks forward until the next to light up the skies with fire, suspense, and hoorays.

Friday, January 05, 2007

The Day the Sun Decided to Stay in Bed

Sprung into newness, carried forth in time, a garnished novelty, another year, another month, another day, another hour…I watch the minutes roll by wondering why the future should array itself in dreary dullness, and why the wide-mouthed dawn aches.

I do not know why everywhere I look I see crumbling effigies of failure. Dust and shadows and the cobwebs of twilight cringe and cram into corners of daytime’s perpetual dreams.

To me, the sun has always been the most static, visible source of inspiration and example. Everyday, just before the sun climbs far above the stratosphere, does he ever think to himself, “Today, I will not rise. I will stay in bed. Half the earth cannot even see me due to those idiot clouds. And what’s the use? The people down below will still rob, cheat, and kill…doing their crimes and running wild through the streets”?
But no, how consistent is this sun. Not only does he rise but he also rises very dependably on the dot.

During my short sojourn down in Mexico last spring, I saw this horribly awful movie called, “A Day without a Mexican”. It was supposed to show how much we’d be at a loss if one day in the U.S. all the Mexicans, whether with green cards or not, just up and vanished. How our economy as we know it would just halt.

But what if, and this is a gargantuan shift, what if instead of Mexicans not showing up, the sun, that sultry, fire-marble star decided to sleep in and not get up one morning?
I think that it would make one great children’s book entitled, “The Day the Sun Decided to Stay in Bed.” I even have a visualization of the illustrations that I could draw for this book. A picture of the sun lying in bed grasping his pillow in reluctance with striped pajamas and most importantly an eye mask still on. And then there would be a shattered alarm clock that Mr. Sun had ripped out of the wall and broken beside his dresser.

The people of the earth would hurry and scurry about the continents and islands as if the prophecies of Chicken Little or the Apocalypse was set loose. Except, of course, those dutiful servants of counting sheep, who also had decided to stay in bed that same coincidental day that our sun had selected as a vacation in bed sheets.

But say about 10:30 or so, our magnificent sun decided to still remain in bed, but this time with the dainty luxury of the breakfast tray placed delicately upon his lap as he yawns and stuffs his open-furnaced mouth with a cinnamon roll. And perhaps, in one faint gripping moment, staring at the particular shape of the egg glowing radiantly on his plate, the way the cooked yoke is so round, and yellow and the way its eggy gloriousness seems to spill over into his bacon and biscuits, it reminds him of something and he exclaims,
“Oh no! What the heck have I done!” But this realization is followed by a 2nd thought, and with a shrug and a sheepish grin, he sighs, “Oh well. Too late now.” And continues eating and places the tray on the floor and pulls out a large book of Balzac and begins reading.

All the while back on earth, the masses of people have gone topsy-turvy. Some going absolutely out of their minds, and some finally coming to their senses. Wars would probably wage in the most beautiful suburban cities of peace between people who used to be neighbors. But at the same time, the rough patches of battles and bloodshed would witness barbed-wire enemies hugging and crying together, their dropped weapons laying in the fields. All this just because the sun was a few hours late getting on the ball this morning.

About 3:00 the now casually inclined Mr. Sun walks out his front door and down the street in a hoody and sweatpants, quite the contrast from his 3-piece suit, briefcase, and horribly rushed black coffee. I could illustrate a picture of this as well….in the Before/After pictorial comparison. The vast difference being the leisurely stroll of the sun going to work at 3:00 in the afternoon, kicking a soda can, singing a song to himself, and bearing his golden locks of fire more tousled about than entire geological eras have ever seen.


And now if I could just find a publisher who believes in this idea almost as much as I do. I could place this pinch of craziness in print and in color and no one would think that I was smoking something with the story that I just wrote.


And I should probably also mention that nothing gets rid of the blues more than turning some absurd predicament into an idea for a children's book.


Monday, January 01, 2007

On New Year's Day

Nothing can feel quite as fresh as that New Year babe hauled out of the Future’s ripe stomach. –Not crying, but bubbling and squirming with new life. Eyes open to the dawn and limbs stretched to unfathomable possibilities. Every New Year’s time, if not hindered by distracting outside sources, I get a charge of newness, like the snug change of an undershirt after a hot bath on a winter’s day. The T-shirt magnificently white, fit, and fresh with cleanliness never felt again after that first day’s use.

I look at nature now and everything in its winter parade is marching towards its death. The leaves have fallen and the tree logs are decaying. The field is barren and the sun sleeps sooner. Is it not ironic that we have just celebrated the birth of nature’s Artist within the season of this artwork’s own dying? And in a few months, we will celebrate His death while nature springs to life around us. But perhaps the death of nature is the birth of something new, something beyond the natural.

I can’t help but notice how everything is strenuously attempting to recycle itself. How should I admit it that my whole being wants to be recycled? I want to recycle my heart; it is full of inconsistencies. I’d like to recycle my mouth for it only offends (myself, others, AND God). I wish that I could recycle my mind because it works properly only half the time. I’d like to recycle other parts of my body because it wants to work much too properly all the time. (well maybe not all the time; that’s an exaggeration. I had to write that last one just to be witty.)

So, yes, the New Year signifies rebirth and new beginnings. For my New Year’s Resolution, I resolved that I should stop being so lazy and do more. No area would this resolution be more noticeable and perhaps more beneficial than in the area of writing.
But it is Day 1 of 2007 and writing this little bit is about as difficult as…well, it’s too much effort thinking up the appropriate metaphor here. It’s just dastardly difficult and every jot of ink is….dang it! There I go again drawing a blank. Anyways, the very large numbers of 2007 have emerged from the seas of uncertain time and it is in one way, a very fearful encounter, and in another, an exploratory venture.

Hopefully, I shall yawn and stretch and rub my eyes from the lethargic slumbers of my careless youth. Both the world and myself are getting older. My infant nap with its lullaby has long since passed. As one walks, one must keep one’s toes pointed straight ahead towards that horizon and not mind the heel that was bruised by serpents from the past.