Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cruisin' (Episode II)

As you remember from our last exciting episode, Lassie had suffered serious a injury in a flood that cost her an eye and a foreleg, but she was still able to attempt to rescue Timmy from the cave -

Lassie: Woof! Woof!

June Lockhart: What's that? Timmy is trapped in the cave?

Lassie: Rrrrr, Woof.

June: But you've already alerted the sheriff and formed search party? Good dog, Lassie.

Lassie: Bark!!!

June: The sheriff couldn't find Timmy, but he stumbled upon Huck Finn and Becky Thatcher? What were they doing in there?

Lassie: Ow-Uuuuuuuu!!!!!!

June: That's disgusting!

Lassie dashes away in search of little Timmy and runs back into Jesse James's musty cave (right past Art Linkletter's honeymooning cave couple) and (coming upon Bob and Joyce's family) she leaps and lands back in Bob's twisted mind. Bob shakes his head and returns to typing his blog entry ... {{Fade to a Marlboro commercial}}

So once again we return to the vacation trip of the summer of '90. After our intrepid travelers had finished gawking at all the commercially available relics left by Jesse James in the gift shop and had filled their lungs with Mr Howard's lingering essence, they marveled at the wonders of modern science (the black and white television starring Art Linkletter and Lassie) and relived the harrowing 1970's living-color adventures of some completely forgettable Huck Finn and Jody Foster's Becky Thatcher. We wander deeper into the cave where our fire-plug tour guide has us halt for no apparent reason. She then explains that we are about to be treated to an experience we have probably never had before: total darkness.

Having thus been forewarned of the scheduled occultation, we stand there in the dark as our guide instructs us on how to test the darkness to confirm its totality, "You just put the thumb of your right hand up against your nose and wiggle the fingers of that hand to determine if you can see them move." Just when we're all agreeing that it's really really dark, the lights suddenly blinked on and we find ourselves all standing around with our thumbs on our noses and our outstretched fingers wiggling. Boy do we ever feel silly - ha ha. Our show-me-state guide has sure showed us.

But the humiliation is far from over. We then traverse narrow slippery passages, bang our heads on low overhangs, and finally gather around another of nature's marvels: a stalagmite called The Table which has a flat seven-foot diameter surface and had once been standing on a single limestone pedestal. Unfortunately, a decade or so prior to our visit, one of the more curious tourists had ventured to test The Table's sturdiness. The toppled Table has been mended (almost) by propping up the nearly intact remnant with several lengths of two-inch-diameter, schedule-80 galvanized steel pipe. As magnificent as the repaired relic is, one can only imagine the glory of the pre-salvaged marvel.

Finally we intrepid spelunkers are shuffled into a large cave opening with a colossal rock formation called The Theater Curtains. After we are all seated on rows of pressure-treated two-by-ten lumber, we're gifted with a dazzling musical light-show extravaganza beyond anyones wildest imagination. Our stocky tour guide flips light switches as a blue-grass version of Rock of Ages plays. Not only is a new facet of The Theater Curtains revealed with each activated light switch, but the synchronized clickity-clickity-click-ing noticably improves the music. Then comes the patriotic grand finale: Kate Smith (via cassette tape) scratchily singing "God Bless America", accompanied by the thunderous clickity-clickity-click-ing of our stout light-switch virtuoso. Absolutely AWESOME!

Upon emerging from the cave, we're offered the chance to purchase a photographic memento (i.e., the group shot that was taken upon our entry). Just as Neil Armstrong might have ventured to snap an instamatic of the moonscape just before he closed the hatch of his lunar module, I just must have this fuzzy 8-by-10 black-and-white glossy keepsake. And thus we end our geological exploration, forever touched by the adventure but also certain (like both Neil Armstrong and Art Linkletter's humiliated newlyweds) that we shall never return.


joyce said...

Too funny ! You have outdone yourself. I am amazed you kept that picture. I doubt the younger boys remember it, but maybe the firstborn does?

ShalomSeeker said...

Brilliant opening! Though a tad frightening to be in your mind for a minute there...

On The Table damage: And we wonder why everything today is cordoned off, with alarms and the whole bit? I'm pretty sure the guy who tried that trick went out and became a prolific reproducer, as we seem to have entire GENERATIONS of people who thing they should pull stunts like that! Crazy...

Thanks for sharing your memories. Looking forward to future episodes, though perhaps without Lassie and his discoveries... ;-D

Bob said...

Shalomseeker-- sorry about dragging you through that twisty abyss. Sometimes that place scares me, too.

Joyce-- I love the way Ben (seated on my lap) is looking over at you for assurance that the cave Daddy has dragged us into is safe. (Though it would have been better if you'd been able to muster at least the thinnest of reassuring smiles, instead of that same old bedraggled "Why me?" expression.)

joyce said...

Hosea 12:1 Ephraim FEEDETH on wind...

That was my compliant cowed face. We must have been herded onto the risers to hear the expert talk and listen to the music and light show. I am wondering now if they needed pictures to prove a visitor count. Or, maybe they were hoping someone returned to the scene of the crime?

Bob said...

Yes, I know "FEEDETH" is in the King James Bible, dear. But it's still not in the Official Scrabble Dictionary.

Compliant ... bedraggled -- what's the difference? Either way, Ben could tell Daddy had done us wrong, again.

joyce said...

No, I am convinced Ben looked to me for what to feel or think. Remember when he bowled for the first time? He would turn around and check my face instead of watching the ball hit the pins. No amount of telling Ben to turn around and look would help. He was one clingy baby. Now he is super independent.

Bob said...

Yeah, but Ben still needs to know we're proud of him.

joyce said...

Sadly, he is done with mom and being mothered. He looks to DAD for affirmation and praise, and manliness and all that is tools.

Ben wrote me off as "worst-case-scenerio mom" long ago.

Wish someone had whispered in my ear during those clingy years that the day would too quickly come when he would spread his wings and fly. It was so much fun to hold the boys when they were babies and toddlers and kiss them on the head.

I miss that little curly head nestled on my shoulder. said...

joyce & bob, i'm just catching up on all these stories. they are wonderful. i still have my clingy younger son, my alleycat. he's only 6, but i fear cling time is waning. i already miss it.

Bob said...

Supergurl-- It's great to have you drop by. Yeah, sometimes we do miss those little boys who used to lay their blonde heads on our shoulders, but it's such a wonderful blessing to have them grow into strong independent young men. Enjoy your boys today. Tomorrow will come soon enough.

jennifer said...

Hey Bob. I love the story about the cave experience. We went on a field trip last year to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga TN, and I HATED it. I am a bit Clostraphobic (sp?) and it was not a fun trip for me riding the elevator down into the earth and walking even further. Plus, they pointed out these narrow spaces where the original cave explorers had wiggled through on their belly. This is the point I need to run screaming from the cave yet hold it together for my daughter. You took me back! Now I need to take a mild sedative and go to sleep.