Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Amazing Race

Not long ago, a motley crew of friends, family and neighbors gathered together to watch the final episode of The Amazing Race on a large movie screen at Jordan Commons.  Now this was not just an exercise of happy, mindless people assembling on a Sunday evening to collectively break the Sabbath or provoke the wrath of heaven by engaging in felonious activities that are profoundly unbiblical. 

Quite the contrary.  Our dear friends, Dave and Connor O’Leary, were among the three final teams competing for the million dollar prize and bragging rights for enduring a series of wild and dangerous stunts that were deeply unnerving and left the participants without a recognizable center of gravity…or bladder control.  For some of us, this is a perpetual state of being.

Because of a 10 million dollar confidentiality clause and an unspoken threat of a contract on their lives with Guido, the “Thumb Breaker,” Dave and Connor took a vow of Omerta followed by a pinkie swear, and maintained a code of silence as to the results.  They divulged nothing. I know. I personally tried all manner of dopey tricks to get either one of them to hint at the outcome, including channeling the Oracle of Delphi. It was eerily reminiscent of trying to seduce a smile from the guards at Buckingham Palace.  Alas, to no avail.

So the congregation sat together in the theater, on the edge of our seats, biting nails, and erupting in a chorus of frenetic cheering at the conclusion of each leg, and groaning at the inane comments of the severely emotionally arrested couple who whined incessantly about needing the million dollars to have a baby.

NEWS FLASH  to those who failed Human Reproduction 1-0-1:  No monetary intervention needed for conception.  I know.  I had two children, and we didn’t have a dime!

That night was infused with such comaradery and unity, all of us caught up in the thrall of the moment.  I think we had intuited the outcome, but when the O’Learys won, there was an eruption of cacophony  and jubilation, comic book noises, simulated armpit flatulence, copious hugs, high fives and majestic silliness of fellow human beings connected by a single joyous mindset.  Shared moronic hilarity is a peculiar ritual and monumentally noble tradition of mankind. I was a privileged participant and noise-maker.

Now the O’Learys winning this competition is really no surprise.  One expects extraordinary things from extraordinary people.  The Amazing Race is not the first time they have embarked on a perilous journey.

When Dennis was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the first call we made was to our bishop, Dave O’Leary.   He was on our doorstep before we heard the dial tone.  As our family gathered together, he administered a blessing upon Dennis and our household that resonates to this day.

Our lamps were lit, and we could see the light.  Our hardship was easier to bear, because he assumed a large portion of the burden.  Dave O’Leary counseled us to put on our armor, and he promptly joined us in the trenches.

The O’Learys travelled our journey with us.  They went the distance, and we began not only to believe in miracles, but to expect them, and ultimately, to make them happen.

One should never embark on a pilgrimage alone.

The O’Learys have permanent residence in the Holy of Holies of our hearts.

Inspiration is contagious.  And as I watched Dave and Connor flinging themselves off cliffs, leaping out of airplanes and throwing themselves under the wheels of passing cars, I had an overwhelming desire to likewise gain enlightenment through reckless living and wild abandon.  I vowed to  DREAM. THE. IMPOSSIBLE. DREAM!  CLIMB EVERY MOUNTAIN.  FORGE EVERY STREAM.  CONQUER EVERY FOE!  MASTER MY SPHINCTER.

Yessiree.  I decided to accept any opportunity that comes my way to show my valor, bring home the ultimate victory, and wreathe myself in a crown of laurel leaves.

So, when I was asked by a stewardess to sit in an exit row on a recent flight home, I recalled the courage of Lancelot, the nobility of Don Quixote, and the permanent make-up of Kim Kardashian, and resoundingly answered the call to serve for all my fellow passengers to hear, “What the crap!  OK. “

The officious stewardess then provided me with a laminated card of instructions regarding how to proceed in case of extreme turbulence or danger.

Feeling the weight of such responsibility, I studied diligently in preparation for the possibility of hostile conditions.  The plane was a tiny world, a microcosm of humanity, but I was duty-bound by honor to focus on the inhabitants of this cocoon and do all my power to guard their lives.  I was determined to be the epitome of efficiency without obstacles…an icon of fluid motion.

In some mysterious transformation, I became everyone’s mother, (without lactation), and I embraced the mission. 

Now, according to the cartoon characters on the passenger safety card, in case of danger, the first thing NOT to do is use my cell phone or light a cigarette.


Then, as the plane hits land or water, I’m supposed to bend over, grab my ankles, and puke.  This is actually a maneuver I’ve mastered over the years. It is good to be one with your emesis basin.

OK so far.

After that, I try to figure out how the plane is constructed using my extensive knowledge of the first three letters of the alphabet.


Then I open the door, remove it from its hinges, and fling myself out the exit, which I locate by rapidly firing hyphens from my eyeballs.


Finally, I just bob in the water with a frowny face and a seat cushion and wait for a baby to float by.

No problemo.

I guess we are all nomads on this planet. Life presents many sojourns.  Each destination is different.  We travel together.  

But, the next time anyone embarks on an amazing race, take me along.  I’m ready.  I’ll just review the instructions on my safety manifesto, grab a barf bag, locate my ankles, and replenish my supply of eyeball hyphens.