Faith Can Move Mountains... But Dynamite Works Better

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Never Trust A Guy Named Mad Harry

The following is why I should never be asked to do a speech at your wedding or give your eulogy. Just so you know.

“Thank you, Reverend Andrews, for such a kind introduction. Hello, everyone. Thank you for coming out on such a sad day to pay tribute and remember our friend Thomas. It is indeed a tragedy when someone is taken from us at their prime, so unexpectedly, and in the circumstances that, well... Thomas died under.

Thomas leaves behind his beloved wife Helen. She asked if I’d give a eulogy. Helen, I hope I do his memory well today.

Thomas and I grew up together. We were the best of friends, always up to no good, getting ourselves into all sorts of mischief. I remember snowball fights and that one time we hit that car on the road. The one that stopped. Oh, did we run. Ran for our lives. I mean, you don’t know in those circumstances if you’re dealing with a really cranky person, particularly if you’re eight years old. It’s a miracle our parents never found out.

We got ourselves through high school. Half the time we only passed classes by copying each other’s answers on tests... oh, by the way, there aren’t any of our former teachers here today? No? Good, I wouldn’t want to be answering for something we did twenty years ago.

I still remember the time that six of us managed to get the principal’s car up on the roof of the school overnight. We somehow managed to keep it all a secret for years on end. At least until after Old Man Knox bit the dust. I suppose I shouldn’t use the term bit the dust at a funeral, should I? Well, it was funny, getting that VW Bug up on the roof. His expression the next day when he finally found out where his missing car? It was priceless.

Maybe I shouldn’t have admitted that.

Anyway, Thomas and I went off to the same university. Chased the girls, drank on the weekends, got into our own sorts of trouble here and there. Managed to get our degrees despite our knack for trouble. Got out in the great outdoors every chance we could get. That’s another thing we had in common, aside from the whole getting in trouble thing. Hiking and climbing some of the peaks so close to home.

And then we accepted that dare.

Some people start at it young. Others do it as part of a bucket list when they’re eighty years old. Obviously we were the former.

We were dared to try skydiving.

There we were, twenty years old, totally oblivious to the idea of mortality. So of course we took the dare.

Let me tell you, there’s nothing quite as thrilling as taking a step out of a plane and plunging down into the atmosphere. Well, mountaineering, of course, and maybe sex, but it depends on the sex. Best sex of my life? That Swedish student Ingrid back in fourth year. Trust me, she was a whole lot of fun in the sack, in the shower, in the kitchen, out on the back deck...

Oh, probably shouldn’t be talking about sex in a church during a eulogy, should I?

Right. Sorry. I just get carried away with myself sometimes.

Anyway, we got to like skydiving. Which is how Thomas met Helen, actually.

He did a jump one weekend near Vancouver. She was on the same jump. Her first time doing a jump. They got to talking, hit it off in the plane, and jumped together. You loved it as much as he did, didn’t you, Helen? It’s a thrill. Something everyone should try at least once in their lives. Well, maybe not if you’ve got a deathly fear of airplanes. Obviously not then, because this is a whole step beyond that.

We can at least take solace in the fact that Thomas died doing something that he loved.

We couldn’t have known it was going to happen. Helen decided not to make the jump last Saturday. Pregnancy and skydiving aren’t really a good mix, not after the sixth month, anyway. So Thomas and I headed out for a jump.

I’m a strong believer in packing your own chute. It’s never gone wrong for me before. I wonder though, if I hadn’t, if I’d... well, relied on him to do it, would I be here today? Or would I be in a casket and Thomas giving my eulogy? And by him I mean Harry McCullough. Or Mad Harry, as everyone called him.

Mad Harry, for those of you who might not know, has been working at the flying club for decades. He was due to retire next week. Everyone called him Mad Harry because of the way he flew. Barnstorming at air shows. Crop dusting in ways that made you wonder if he had a death wish. Oh, we also called him Mad Harry because he often said things that didn’t make much sense. Muttered a lot under his breath. Hell of a pilot, but off kilter if you know what I mean. That said, he never had one incident in his life.

Until last Saturday.

Mad Harry packed the chute for Thomas. First time Thomas ever had his chute readied by anyone else. In hindsight, we should have double checked and triple checked. I should have told Thomas to do it himself.

We didn’t think about it. All we could think about was making the jump.

And so there we went. Mad Harry took us up in the plane. Everything’s perfectly fine. We stepped out of the plane and went down, same as we’ve done so many times before.

Only this time it didn’t go right.

Oh, it went fine for me. Pulled my chute, it deployed, and there I was making a smooth descent.

Only I was looking down at Thomas down below, and I could see him pull at the rip cord.

But instead of a chute? What came out of the pack was Mad Harry’s laundry.

I could hear Thomas in my earpiece. Screaming his head off, every single curse word you can imagine in those few seconds he had left. Plunging thousands of feet, going way too fast. Cursing Mad Harry’s name.

 Well, at least Thomas went fast.

If you’ve got to die, ideally it’s without pain, but if there’s to be pain, better it’s all done fast instead of slow and lingering.

Thomas slammed into the ground at a whole lot faster than he should have. It took a scraper to get him completely off the grass. Needless to say, there’s a good reason we’ve got a closed casket for him. Trust me when I tell you that you don’t want to see what’s left of him.

Our friend is gone. He leaves behind his grieving widow and a child he’ll never get to see come into the world.

We’re left to wonder why, at the injustice of it all.

And wonder... could it have been us, under other circumstances?

As for Mad Harry? He’s now undergoing psychiatric assessments, going on and on about pancaked jumpers and wondering what happened to his Slayer t-shirt.

Well, goodbye, Thomas. You were the best friend I could have ever asked for. The brother I never had. We’ll all miss you. Especially Helen. But don’t worry, she’ll be well taken care of. You were smart to take out that life insurance on yourself, friend. Ten million dollars paid out in full.

Say, Helen, what are you doing after the funeral?”

Saturday, March 25, 2017

A Day In The Life Of A Cat

As I always start off with the point of view of the dog, so I end with the perspective of the cat, who like all of her species is vastly superior to we lowly humans.

7:09 AM. Waking up at home. Big stretch. Yawn for good measure. Slept reasonably well. Dreamed of chasing one of those feathers on a string the staff keeps on hand to distract me. Which reminds me, where is the staff?

7:11 AM. Have come upstairs to find the bedroom door closed. I commence a vigorous meowing. Oh, right, she must have closed the door after I did that whole running through the house screaming bloody murder for absolutely no reason thing at three thirty in the morning.

7:13 AM. Well, I can at least hear the staff. The shower’s running. She’s not going to answer the door, so I might as well just go back downstairs and wait. 

I hate waiting.

7:15 AM. Pacing around in the kitchen. Come on, staff, what’s taking you so long?

7:22 AM. The sound of the bedroom door opening upstairs alerts me. I come into the living room just as the staff descends the stairs, ready for work. Well, staff, I can’t say I found it amusing to find closed doors. We’ll have to have a discussion about that later. But priorities first. Breakfast would be ideal right about now. I would prefer my milk poured three quarters of the way up the bowl, with my morning meal on a slightly chilled plate. You can forego that whole giving me field rations too thing that you seem committed to doing...

7:24 AM. The staff has provided me with the expected milk and a plate of tuna, which is not slightly chilled but taken right out of the cupboard. And true to form, she’s also put down a bowl of field rations. Staff? I have made it quite clear that I do not like dry kibble.

7:25 AM. I settle myself into my breakfast, while the staff gets to work on hers. I will leave the field rations alone.

7:36 AM. The staff has put a strip of bacon down on a plate for me. Very nicely done, staff, I approve...

7:43 AM. Bidding goodbye to the staff as she heads off to that work place she ventures off to. Yes, well, don’t dawdle on the way home, staff, because I expect you home promptly so that I can be spoiled rotten.

7:46 AM. Watching the staff from inside as she leaves in her car. Snow is falling. You know, we’re supposed to be in spring time right now. You wouldn’t know it looking out there right now...

7:49 AM. Somewhere in the distance, even muffled by the glass, I can hear the inane barkings of that foul hound. What purpose dogs serve in this universe is beyond me.

8:19 AM. Sitting on a windowsill, relaxing, musing on the meaning of life. You know, this would be a very nice spot for a nap.

8:24 AM. Jolted out of my thoughts by loud barking from outside. I recover quickly and spot that vile mutt out in the snow, wagging his tail, staring right at me. As if I’d ever trust you! Hey! Get lost, dog!

8:25 AM. Unleashing a whole lot of personal opinions about that dog, including some language that would shock the Sisters Of Little Or No Mercy. What part of get lost do you not understand, hound?

8:26 AM. The dog is withdrawing. And don’t come back! You hear me? Don’t come back, or I unleash a hit-ferret on you!

8:27 AM. The foul hound has vanished back into the woods. I remain thoroughly irritated.

8:33 AM. There’s nothing like a dog showing up on your property unannounced to put you in a foul mood for the rest of the day. Dogs are a pestilence in this world. Almost as bad as idiot relations of the staff and the vet.

9:06 AM. Turning on the Weather Network. The forecaster looks panicked. Prattling on about a spring snowstorm coming this way. He’s billing it as Snowmageddon IV: The Snowvenge. If you ask me, and you are asking me, maybe it’s time we lobotomize weather forecasters.

1:46 PM. Launching an all out assault on the scratching post. In doing so, I have unleashed the scent of stray catnip still in the carpeting. Uh oh... this is going to send me into a frenzy.

2:03 PM. Lying on my back after coming down from that catnip craze. Oh, my head... I think a nap is in order right about now. Sure, I’ve already had two naps since I woke up this morning, but you can never have too many naps.

4:28 PM. Waking up from my nap. Slept exceedingly well. I always do after a catnip frenzy.

4:36 PM. Staring out the window. Snow continuing to fall. Come on, staff, where are you?

4:50 PM. The staff comes in through the front door. I deliver a head bonk to her legs as a greeting. Well, it’s about time, staff. I had quite the day, let me tell you. In case you’re wondering later about where that other slipper is, I can’t help you there. Cats in the midst of catnip crazes tend to forget certain things, like what they did with the other slipper.

5:48 PM. The staff seems to be getting ready to make dinner. I hope it’s something edible. We’ve already discussed this, staff, and kale is one of those things that leaches out any capacity for joy you can ever have if you decide to eat it.

6:27 PM. Dinner with the staff. Some strips of beef for me, which I approve of. For whatever reason, she’s having sprouts with her meat. I don’t know what you see in that stuff, staff.

11:31 PM. The staff is off to bed. Now staff, don’t you even think of closing that door. Or I will come up at three in the morning and meow loud enough to wake the dead.