Friday, February 24, 2023

Up, Up and Away

{In your beautiful balloon?}

Image by Susann Mielke from Pixabay

This is a weekly column consisting of letters to my perspicacious progeny. I write letters to my grandkids — the Stickies — eventual selves to advise them and haunt them after they've become grups and/or I'm deleted.  

Trigger Warning: This column is rated SSC — Sexy Seasoned Citizens — Perusal by kids, callowyutes, or grups may result in a debilitating meltdown.  


Featuring Dana: Hallucination, guest star, and charming literary device  

"...aerial military surveillance dates back to the Civil War, when both the Union and the Confederacy used hot-air balloons to spy on the other side..." 
                                                                                         -Michael Hastings

Dear Stickies and Gentlereaders,

When recently spooked by a hooge spy balloon launched by the People's Republic of China, that sailed across our republic, American politicians of all stripes responded promptly: by attacking each other. 

Uncle Joe decided to wait till it completed its mission before ordering it shot down over the Atlantic with a $400,000 missile to insure that no pieces/parts would land on innocent civilians. 

Fortunately, so far at least, Chinese dicktater Xi dada has shown restraint and not cut off the flow of any vital imports like designer sneakers. 

{I'll bet Tom Cruise could've just popped it with a big-ass bayonet mounted on the front of a F/A-18F Super Hornet.} 

Doubtless, Dana. Subsequently, when three more balloons were brought down, demonstrating to the Chicoms that messing with the USA might blow up in their faces I couldn't help but wonder if bored teenagers had found a way to warm up life in the frozen North. 

In their defense, it might've been an accident. When I was a teenager my baby brothers and I once accidentally fooled our subdivision into thinking that a strip of adjacent woods had caught on fire. 

I went a'-googlin' and discovered that even as you read this there are all sorts of balloons bob, bob, bobbin' along the bottom of the stratosphere launched by everyone from hobbyists to government agencies. Turns out you can buy one for about 12 bucks. I'm thinking about...

{Wait-wait-wait. Hold it right there, Sparky. You and your little brothers once "accidentally" set some woods on fire?}

No, definitely not, the neighborhood just thought we had, that the significant billows of harmless smoke that drifted out of the trees and into our hood might be the result of a fire or some other disaster. But given that any applicable statute of limitations has (hopefully, surely) expired by now I can explain your honor. 

{Please do.} 

It was 1966 and one of my older sisters had brought home her new husband, a Green Beret, to meet the family. 

{What's that got to do with setting the woods on fire?}

I repeat, we didn't set anything on fire. I must beg the court's indulgence, a bit of context is required if it pleases the court. 

{You may proceed.}

There was a patriotic hit song out at the time called The Ballad of the Green Berets. The Green Berets,  Wikipedia: "... are a special operations force of the United States Army." Due to the song, and other factors, the Green Berets were "having a moment" not unlike the one the Navy Seals are having nowadays.

To my little brothers and me, this guy was an American warrior right out of central casting. And he brought us green berets. And he told us some cool, toxically masculine inappropriate stories.  

We were in love.  

Now, as to exactly why he had brought a pair of official United States Army-issue smoke canisters/bombs (I don't remember how they were labeled) and gave them to us, I can't tell you. My guess is that being a semi-good ol' boy from the South combined with the aforementioned toxic masculinity led him to believe that boys will be boys and that we would be impressed and enjoy using them.

He was absolutely right. 

We took them into a modest-sized strip of woods behind our house and popped the tops on what looked like large, Army green (soda) pop cans and were shocked and awed. The amount of smoke them babies produced was amazing.

Totally cool. 

But then, thanks to a light breeze, significantly sized billows of smoke began rolling out of the trees and into our neighborhood. We beat a hasty retreat to the first and only house my parents ever owned, the first suburban house my little brothers and I had ever lived in.

Picture a teenage boy, his two younger brothers, a small crowd, and a couple of fire trucks. Firemen were combing the woods in search of where all that smoke was coming from. Fortunately, they didn't find it. 

I confess we were more frightened than exhilarated at that point but we got away with our accidental crime and the adults involved didn't rat us out. I apologize for whatever it cost the township to pointlessly dispatch two fire trucks but I'm sure it was less than $400,000 apiece. 

We were only accidental juvenile delinquents for a minute and grew up to be productive members of society.

Poppa loves you,
Have an OK day

Scroll down to share my work or access oldies. Buy an old crank a coffee? Extra content is available to members of Cranky's Coffee Club.    

Comments? I post my columns on Facebook and Twitter where you can love me, hate me, or try to have me canceled. Don't demonize, seek a compromise.