Monday, May 01, 2006

In the musical "Pippin" Irene Ryan sings a song called, "In just no time at all", and I love it. She's the grandmother whose pastoral life has been interrupted by the shenanigans of grandson Pippin (son of Charlemagne). Some of the words are:

I've never wondered if I was afraid
When there was a challenge to take
I never thought about how much I weighed
When there was still one piece of cake
Maybe it's meant the hours I've spent
Feeling broken and bent and unwell
But there's still no cure more heaven-sent
As the chance to raise some hell

Here is a secret I never have told
Maybe you'll understand why
I believe if I refuse to grow old
I can stay young till I die
Now, I've known the fears of sixty-six years
I've had troubles and tears by the score
But the only thing I'd trade them for
Is sixty-seven more....

Now I'm not sixty-six years old yet, but I have to agree that having some excitement in life is great. In fact, I guess I've rasied as much hell as most people - and most of it without paying too many consequences or harming too much property and no people were injured to produce these shenanigans...well, minor scrapes and bruises and some anxiety.

I remember climbing a forestry lookout tower, lifting the trap door and going inside. Then we locked trap door from the inside and climbed out the window and back down the side of the tower. I always wondered how the forestry rangers got back into that tower or if they ever did. Now I have trouble climbing out of the Jacuzzi.

I remember driving a 57 Ford out to a pond and pasture and terrorizing the cows by cutting donuts in the pasture. That Ford, named Annie, would slide so goood. And, then I'd take that same Annie and we'd drive around town until we found a particularly crowded street with cars parked on either side - barely enough room for one car in between - and we'd see just how fast I could hurtle down that street without hitting any of the parked cars. Of course, having an audience for all this was essential; screams were encouragement to make it more daring and "dangerous". Fortunately, no cows, people or cars were killed. Now I drive the speed limit or five miles over at most.

I've never learned to drive a motorcycle because my feet won't touch the ground, and when I lean one over far enough to get a foot on the ground, it topples over. But, once on a dare, I rode all the way across Phoenix in a see-through harem outfit driving a white Vespa scooter. I couldn't stop it either, and I never did learn how to shift gears; so when I came to a red traffic light I spent more time slowly weaving along in my lane so that I didn't have to stop than I did paying attention to the attention I was getting in rush hour traffic. I won that bet, and I've never ridden a motorcycle or scooter since, but I was looking longingly at some of the small cycles at the Harley shop the other day.

My partner had a Miata when we met. I asked how fast it would go. She said, I don't know; I've never had it over 55 or 60. So I took it to a conference one weekend, got up very early on a very cold morning and put the top down on the Miata. I had on ear muffs and a toboggan, the heater going and the radio blasting. But, my earmuffs came off and I had to slow down when I got to 110 because my ears were getting cold. Now she has an Audi convertible, bright red, that I've only had up to 100 - and only that because I wasn't paying attention. I know cars will go fast; so I don't think I have to do that one again.

In November I spent three weeks at the side of a former boyfriend who was dying of prostate cancer, three weeks away from my partner, three weeks of being privileged to share what was left of life with someone I love. We went for wheelchair rides around the grounds and once a car ride to look at what was left of the autumn leaves, but I put the child locks on the doors to keep him from getting out - a lot of pain medicine. He played his guitar and sang the love songs that I once was sure were just for me, and the nurses fell in love with him, too. And, then he died. I'd do it all again, but I'd make sure I got there four or five weeks before he died so we could have had more fun.

This week I bought a new jet ski and decided to take it for a short spin on Friday in the creek behind my house. It's a big creek with a boat ramp just around the corner from the house; so we launched the jet ski, and I took a friend who had never ridden one with me. She's afraid of the water and even more afraid of snakes, but she trusted me to keep her safe. I failed. I forgot to put the plugs in the jet ski; it filled with water, and, when I tried to turn around, it dumped us out into the creek - out of sight of the launch ramp. She panicked and asked, "Are we going to die of hypothermia?" No, the creek was warm and we weren't more than a hundred yards from my house; I could see it plainly. We finally got her out of the creek, me and the jet ski to the boat ramp and I took the jet ski back to the dealership and said, "I drowned it; can you give it CPR?" Sure enough, they could and are. By Tuesday we should be back in the jet ski business, but I'm not sure that my friend will ride with me again - even though she says that it's not really my fault. However, I can't wait.

I've learned through the years that I need witnesses to my shenanigans, but I don't need victims. So, I think I'll confine my cavorting to solitary pursuits. But, like Irene Ryan in Pippin, I agree that "there's still no cure so heaven sent as the chance to raise some hell."

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