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

Monday, May 28, 2007

My Walt Disney World Escapade

In one giant case, I was a deprived child. I, my dear readers, have never been to Disney World. (That’s what I should have told the police). –Perhaps that is the reason that I did what I did. Woe unto you parents who never take your children to Disney World for they will turn out to be a sort of Peter Pan locked somewhere between childhood and adult twilight. Neither really one or the other. Attempting to fly when it is beyond one’s good sense. Yes, that was the reason of my actions –That was the cause of the whole ordeal. This, I will say to my mother if she ever finds out.

My plan and my quest was to sneak into Walt Disney World. Again, I refer to this bad habit , this juvenile hobby, this cumbersome pastime of mine and paraphrase myself from a previous note. When approaching a magical kingdom who wants to pay to get in? It loses its magic. No, I wanted to intrude into that magical kingdom. It was again, not a matter of money. (Though $70 is a lot of money) but it was more for the challenge and the thrill. –A rollercoaster by itself is not enough; I felt I had to sneak past security to get to that rollercoaster…now that’s a real thrill. Some of you may beg the moral question, but wasn’t it Disney who taught us to play out our richest fantasies and our sense of wonder no matter what the strict authorities said? I was just another Ariel striking out upon land where I was forbidden to go. Tough luck, if the world of Disney should be directly affected by its own philosophy. That philosophy being the triumph of the imagination over reality. What do you expect?

So Wednesday, after my work responsibilities were over, I drove into this huge world that we know as Disney. I had never been there, so I couldn’t decide where to begin my caper. I shot for the Magical Kingdom and before long I found myself on small roads where paying for parking is not necessary. That is when I found the Disney University where mascots go for their stringent training. No decal was needed. I hopped out of my car and began my clandestine procedures. I could see the famous castle tower looming over the trees as a sort of goal for my wandering and stealthy footsteps. It was a beacon of delight, of that realm where Cinderella’s glass slipper always fit; where Sleeping Beauty awoke from her slumber into her dreams. Eventually, I found a fence that wrapped around these woods. On the other side of these woods was that very special place that gleams in the hearts of children and adults. But the fence had slanted barbwire at the top. Not an easy thing to climb. So from an unobserved distance I followed the fence and the woods further around. There was a road next to the fence where many tourists where driving their minivans by. I couldn’t be overly suspicious. With keen eyes I spotted the chink in the fences armor. -A sort of mouse hole into the world’s largest mouse home. These fences always have doors on them. These doors have bars or as I like to call them firm footholds. This particular door that I spotted was slanted leaving a skinny and daring intruder ample enough room to slip through if he climbed 3 feet. As the road in front of this fence became empty, I darted my head to both sides of the road and seeing that the host was clear, ran full speed across the road and in seconds had my foot on the chain lock of the door and had squeezed myself through the top part of this doorway. I was in. I then bounded towards the forest. There was this, what I thought to be a pond, near the forest. As I approached the body of water, I heard something large splash into the water. Certainly flamingos or herons don’t make that kind of splash. I doubt a fish was that big. Then it dawned on me that I was in the vicinity of the Florida Alligator. “Ah gators…Okay, so this is turning out to be one big mistake.” The thought flashed through my head. I kept running this time, further from the water further into the swamp-like forest with each bound, glancing carefully at the ground in front of me to see if there was a large leathery reptile lying there. Then where I was sure the edge of the woods drifted into the park of all parks…I noticed how deceived I was. That pond was no pond. It was a moat. -A gator-infested moat that separated me from my magical kingdom. And how eerie the water looked all murky with who knows how many of those creatures sleeping at the bottom. I had to find my way around this moat. I could hear a train and laughter on the other side. I can never give up after getting so close. So I followed the moat around through the swampy woods. Through the thickest brambles, I trudged with every step a gamble that there might be a snake or gator that I had mistaken for a root or a log. These were not Bambi’ woods. They were more like Mowgli’s jungle. Vines and tropical plants mingled with the cypresses. Spider web after spider web I collected in my hair and my shirt. It was much like one of my favorite Disney songs.

Robin Hood and Little John
Runnin' through the forest
Jumpin' fences, dodgin' trees
An' tryin' to get away
Contemplatin' nothin'
But escape an' fin'lly makin' it
Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally
Golly, what a day

If only I could find a fallen tree that would form a sort of bridge across the moat. But none could be found. I still marched on further alongside the moat, sometimes wandering further into the woods seeing how the moat’s edge could be overgrown with too many trees and vines that made it impassable. I tried to walk as much as I could on top of logs, not wanting to disturb any creatures’ habitat. -More for my sake than theirs. I was not in the mood to be punching gators with one hand while choking a water moccasin with the other. But I continued following the moat even if Kaa the Snake or the Croc that ate the clock was waiting around the corner. Maybe up around this river bend, I will spot an Indian girl in a canoe will give me a ride to the other side. But no Pocahontas for this John Smith. Only more trees and vines.

Finally, I came to the end of the moat. There was a road that gave workers access into the park. A slab of cement spilled into the moat at a 45 degree angle. This would be perfect for crossing over. Unobserved from the workers on the road above and unobserved from the gators in the moat below. But as I got closer to the road, I noticed that even that was fenced over with barbwire at the top. They had made sure of everything. I then paused to collect my thoughts and rest. I took one look at the top of the fence and saw, perhaps another way to scale this barrier. As I approached this fence. I immediately spotted two Mexican women employees on the other side taking their smoking break. –And they spotted me without a doubt. I didn’t know what to do. I was too tired to run…and I didn’t feel like jogging through the forest again. So I squatted down next to the fence when behind me a white car pulled up. A man with those type of shiny aviators that sheriffs wear was sitting there glaring at me. So I glared back. It was intense. His glance never left me. At that instant I knew that he was security and that I was caught. What to do? Should I run or should I surrender? Well, I guess I’ll leave that for my next note. But either way it was Oo-de-lally, Oo-de-lally, Golly what a day.
To Be Continued….

Friday, May 25, 2007

Florida Birds on the Highway

I was traveling down I-75 deeper into Florida when this guy flicked me off. Now, it was not the forceful, vigilante finger that constitutes revenge or a barbaric rage. I did nothing to merit his middle finger. He was only passing by me in the right lane…and I simply looked over that’s all. Nor was it the mischievous birdie that redneck friends will exchange each other at bowling alleys. Nope, it was only the most casual, relaxed signal of proud contempt that was confined into that flick. He was sitting shotgun while his girlfriend was driving, his barefeet stretched out the passenger window. His arm was hanging casually out the window when he looked over at me and so imperceptibly, shot me that bird. It was more of a hummingbird than a hawk. It was almost as though he wanted to flick me off but didn’t think I was worth the effort to sit up and give me a full-finger salute. And nothing can be more offensive. Or maybe he was trying to hide his offense from his girlfriend or sister (or both; whoever she was.)

Well my reaction, is what was going to determine the entire scene. I did not flick him back off. I did not mouth expletives at him either. In those few seconds when the ire of a man flickers and he must do something, I decided to turn the other cheek by allowing him to have access to another angle at flicking me off….from my rear view mirror…that is when I cut their car off. Suffice it to say that in no way am I a proper example for taking insults. I admit, I am too insecure, too immature for this ideal. I have a streak of revenge in me that can get me riled up. Now, I was not exploding in rage. No, I just gritted my teeth and pressed my foot down on the gas, muttering, “Flick me off for no reason? I’ll show you.” And swerved completely in front of them, almost clipping their right headlight.

This sent the laid-back cool guy into a volcano of angry motions. He was then sitting up fully in his seat giving me the real traffic type of birds…from both hands as he flung them convulsively in the air and shouted, hoping that maybe miraculously I could hear all the curses he hurled at me. I just grinned back at him through my mirrors. I was singing along to Dwight Yoakam, even dancing a little bit. He didn’t like this at all. They tried speeding up to me but I wouldn’t let them. I didn’t want to get another, this time wrathful finger in my face. Unfortunately, the highway was a 3 laner. If there were only 2 lanes I would have boxed him in real good. We were both driving pretty fast now. Passing cars to the right. About the time that he was about to pass me on the right, I would make it to one of these slower cars and ride neck and neck with them. This would have blocked him from passing at all and would have really ticked him off. But there was a 3rd lane that left them free to get around. But by the time the driver (the girl) realized the open lane was there and was cutting right toward it, I would have already cut around the middle, noninvolved car and came to cut in front of them on that far right lane as well.

This sent that man ape-crazy. He bound up this bandana around his fist and motioned to me that he was going to beat me up. I just laughed and continued to sing with Dwight. For maybe 15 minutes this whole ordeal lasted. They chasing me around other cars, and me always weaving in front of them again and again. I finally let them in front, though I knew it probably wasn’t a good idea. They passed and there he sat gesticulating all his hatred at me. Then he threw something at my car. He missed. I don’t think it was anything solid either. He probably lacked the sense to throw something hard, and picked up a paper wrapper. There are ways to infuriate these people more and its not in indulging in the same type of offensive attacks that they do. It’s more fun than that. I just pointed at him and starting laughing hysterically. Nothing can stab an angry man more. I was letting him know that I was not at all threatened and that he was a joke. This produced all types of venting on his part. And again the car weaving started again. Then finally the guy had to use his last weapon. As he was passing again, his head went down and his rear end went up and his britches dropped down. He stuck his butt out the window, mooning not only me but everyone around. There are such times when I knew I should always carry a BB gun or slingshot in my car with me. So, I had nothing to do but to take his ass-show performed before the Florida sunshine and the trucker in front of us. The disappointing fact was that he knew that I was powerless and that I could do nothing back. Being the driver, I could not return the moon, unless I was a very dexterous driver. Such a feat could probably be only performed by certain avant-garde circus performers. And I was no where near that level of driving. Maybe one day. Instead, I took a sheet of paper (actually my company’s catalogue) and pen and wrote on the back of it in big bold lettering, “IS THAT YOUR FACE!?” Then sped up and slapped it onto my drivers window as I passed. He nodded back “yeah” with a grin and the whole incident was over. Apparently, all that guy’s fury was relieved as soon as he undid his belt. Maybe he just needed some air back there.

Somewhere north of Orlando, in Leesburg, after I got off the interstate, my car battery went dead. -Too much activity for it in one day. It took me awhile for the emergency roadside aid to arrive and jump me off and then I went and bought a whole new battery. …..Florida, I was in the land of splattered bugs on the windshield and orange juice. My mission from my boss was very vague. “Just stick your head in the door in the stores down there.” Sounds like the best company trip to Florida a guy could have. The next day…well, that was a whole another day and a new adventure…that tops this story by a landslide and will probably be considered one of the craziest things I’ve ever tried to do. So stay tuned.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Adventures on Lookout Mountain

Chattanooga…and the entire south applauds or more culturally correct, hoots and hollers. I made my way there last Wednesday and the work that I set out to do ended up being very small. The store didn’t need anything and so after driving those 2 hours from Murfreesboro, I ended up having a huge day to play around in. I rushed up to the famous Lookout Mountain. I heard all my life that you could see 7 states from its top. I wanted to see it for myself. (How this is proven is beyond me.) Somewhere up this mountain road I crossed from Tennessee into Georgia and I made it into the famous Rock City that is so heavily advertised. Rock City…I had to see it. They had all types of fairy-tale like names and places like a magical story book opened and popped-up into rocks and caverns. It was a Cinderella story set in a cave; but was a Rumpulstiltskin of a price. Oh no, I was not opposed to paying the price. I just wanted to liven up my visit a bit. It’s a bad habit of mine. Maybe one day a cautious wife will rid me of this tendency. –But no Snow White now, only dwarfish antics, You see, I have this habit of trying to sneak into places. I know…I know. It’s so childish. But if I am going to intrude upon a fairy tale kingdom, I want to do like it is done in the books, by cleverness and courage. I don’t want to pay to get in! Then the story loses its magic. The entire act is a puzzle that I have to crack. -A forthright adventure, and there is no one that can hop a fence and dart behind walls quite like I can.

So with little effort and with little strategy, I was in. I won’t even bother telling you how it was done, it was so eventless. I passed down through the Cavern pathway where dwarfs hung upon rocks working their mining and there entrenched in caves stood a portrayal after portrayal of different fairy tale stories. Then in the heart of the cavern stood a huge room where all the nursery rhymes from our cradle rocking days where acting out their tale. The cow was jumping over the moon, the old lady and all her children were playing before their large shoe house, little boy peep slept fast asleep in the hay, and Jack and Jill were tumbling down the hill that they so boldly attempted at climbing up. And yes, Jack’s broken crown will still hurt a year after. For they were all locked in time, their eternal calisthenetics as timeless acts ringing down eternity from generation to generation their plays being glimpsed by wide-eyed toddlers. I would stare at all the characters trying to get lost…to hear some faint lullaby of that world. For no one can daydream and be entranced by that wonderland quite like I can.

Then up to the mountain top and off in the distance 7 states are said to be spotted. But all this is pure speculation. As I was visiting the gift shop, I made sure to check with the manager there to see if they would all be interested in my company producing for them any T-shirts. This is the fun part of my job. In no way am I obligated to make any sales or further their business. I just tend to the business we already have. However, I am free to get business if I can. Lots of flexibility. And so the sky is basically the limit on opportunity here. So whenever a spontaneous idea occurs, I can run with it. I don’t see myself as a salesman at all. Just a good connecter. Besides, I would get really bored with my job if it only meant going to Walgreens stores and getting reorders. I need a challenge. A mountain to climb. And Lookout Mountain was just that mountain. Though every thing was casual. If they weren’t interested no sweat on my part. I walked into the manager’s office and we had neat conversations ranging from the founders of Rock City to mascoting (both she and I have been mascots before). She was the nicest lady and there was definitely some connection felt there. I didn’t bother to mention that I hade snuck into her park. Thought that might destroy any connection that was between the two of us. She was genuinely interested and I think we may have a future client on our hands. For no one can charm their way with complete strangers (at least when I force myself out of my shell) quite like I can.

Then leaving the park, and driving around the very crest of the mountain, I notice that there were hang gliding signs around. Hang gliding! How neat! I’ve never seen people do this before and I’ve always wanted to hang glide.….and maybe, if I’m very very lucky I can scratch this off of that things to do before I die list.. But the cliff side that I reached was only for experts. And like skydiving, you must go through a sort of training. It takes a lot of money and lot of time. Not something to just happen upon for an afternoon. But I watched and saw the hang gliders with a deep sigh charge off the pavement that poured into the sky and drop below just above the valley trees and then the thermal would, like a delicate hand, seize the hang glider and lift him up, up far into the dazzling blueness. There was one that was soaring so high, that he could barely be seen so enveloped he was into that great blue yonder. A vulture soared around thinking that he had either found himself some friends or, maybe, a possible future dinner. But what an idea to soar about on such a golden afternoon. So high and so free. I must certainly look more into this. For there is no one that wishes to fly into the sun-kissed skies quite like I do.

After this, I tried to sneak into another park. Just for the thrill of it. Ruby Falls. It’s this huge waterfall. I attempted to find it by following certain trails, but I couldn’t. Stupid me, I did not realize that the waterfall is no where outside but down inside the belly of the earth, some 1000 ft under my very feet.. You had to ride an elevator down and a guide had to be with you the entire time. I gave up on this idea. And went to another park. This time where a Civil War Battle took place. It was a pivotal point in the war. If the North hadn’t have taken over Chattanooga, then Gen. Sherman wouldn’t have reached Atlanta and razed the South. And therefore the Confederacy wouldn’t have gone through such a loss and who knows…the outcome might have been different. But probably not. I stand before you as a tried and true Southerner, but a Southerner that is willing to admit defeat 140 years later. (Something the South needs more of). On this fortress park. I met these country boys and one of their girlfriends as I was leaping from the top of the fortress to this rock below. This impressed them too much as one of them attempted the same leap. But his girlfriend objected and he had to take the easy route down to the edge of the cliff. Then I befriended these two country boys. And I became something of their leader. As we talked and I would do outrageous things on this cliff. And then they would half way try it and then abort the whole attempt. I taught them how to scale up the fortress wall. For no one can bound from rock to rock on high precipices quite like I can.

But then the sun was beginning its dive downwards and I wished to be alone to pray and meditate. And I couldn’t do it with people around. I know that this is contradictory. A person spends his day sneaking in and out of parks and now he sits down to pray. But I feel no apology is necessary. My conscience is at rest. I’m just a contradictory person. So I snuck off without the country boys knowing where I went and found another cliffside where that was directly westwards and facing the descending sun. And there I laid on the side of this cliff talking with my God. For to heck, with what I can do, for there is not a day, not an adventure, not a mountain nor a sky that one can fashion out for me quite like God can.