Monday, November 30, 2009
Two boyhood dreams came true this fall. One was a disappointment. The other was well worth the wait. There’s a third, becoming a writer, that’s mostly just a pain in the butt when it prods you to look for connections and patterns when you should just tell people about something that stands perfectly well on its own.
So I won’t say much about learning to scuba dive after all, other than it costs a whole lot and encourages holding still, the first of which raises the necessary fun threshold to near-impossible levels while the other (for me) lowers the fun potential about as much.
Then there’s the other dream. I’d all but forgotten it. I got to slide down a fire pole this weekend. Admit it, if you were any kind of boy at all, and most kinds of girl, you wanted to slide down a fire pole. I mentioned as much a couple weeks ago, when I spoke at the Lansing Tribute to Veterans. One of the stops on my spring USO trip was an Air Force fire station at Ramstein AFB in Germany, where I got to admire their fire pole and even watch it in use – there was a call for a fuel spill while the other seven cartoonists and I were taking the tour – and even take my favorite photograph, one that shows how fast firemen move and how slow an old-style digital camera’s delay (and a middle-age cartoonist's reaction time) can be.
But I didn’t get to slide down the pole.
Shortly after that speech, a friend and neighbor called to thank me and mention that, gosh, his son is a lieutenant with a nearby fire department and that maybe I might want to be available when he rotated to a shift command at one of the area’s only two-story fire stations, if I could catch his drift. Saturday it came together, on a slow holiday weekend no less, and Patty and I got to tour the station, crawl all over a brand-new million-dollar truck and, yes, slide down the pole as many times as we wanted.
I’d say it was everything I expected as a boy, but I have no realistic memory of what I expected as a boy. I probably expected it would make me feel special, would give me a little bit of a thrill, would have me making multiple repeat trips back up the stairs, and would be just plain fun. Check. I’m sure I couldn’t expect anything like my future wife’s Facebook page or my own blog and the sort of lewd, socially marginal comments about brass poles that the photos would invite.
Posted by Jef Mallett at 5:32 AM