Click any letter for a look at my prize-winning essay from the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. You don't even have to buy a vowel.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cannonball Run

I’m perched atop a Revolutionary War cannon in a position I will delicately describe as “not sidesaddle.” Behind me the water ripples out toward Fort Sumter, a major piece in the puzzle of how we managed to win independence from a country that, compared to the America of the time, is relatively the size a flyswatter looks to a targeted fly. I’ve been smiling into the sun for so long that I’ve managed to flash “Help Me” in Morse code to eighteen passers by using my front teeth, each of which is covered in grit and feels approximately the size of a sailboat.

So far, either nobody understands Morse code or they don’t want to risk having their picture taken in their vacation clothes. Just as I’m beginning to realize there’s a fine line between smiling and gritting your teeth, I hear the camera click and start to slide to safety down the back of the statue. Halfway down the cannon, my pants get hung on, to use a technical term, the "back." Two and a quarter centuries ago a soldier would stand here to light the fuse. My fuse is currently too short to light.

“Hold it! That’s a better shot!” shouts Bill, clicking away like he’s head photographer for America’s Top Model. A little more experience and he could stalk Britney with the Hollywood paparazzi.

I hang in mid air having a closer relationship with heavy artillery than is appropriate on a family outing. We are celebrating my husband’s birthday with a day trip to Charleston, the Holy City, and I’m thinking ungodly thoughts.

Ever since Bill turned the big 5-0 and got his membership packet from the American Association of Undeniably Old People, he’s been moping around like a kid who’s just found out where drumsticks come from. So for his birthday, I joined the Electronics Age and got him a fancy digital camera. Nothing like a new toy to cheer up an old birthday boy.

I don’t know much about the make and model of this baby, but the logo emblazoned down the side says Canon, and there’s enough alphanumeric characters trailing along behind it to drive the price up past what I’d normally pay for a spa weekend. With Brad Pitt.

What hubby doesn’t know is that, using my highly developed Google-Fu, I found the camera on the Internet for a fraction of what you’d pay in the store. Since money can’t buy love, I’ll use what I saved for batteries.

There are two kinds of people in this world. Those that photograph like Cindy Crawford and those whose picture always looks like a self portrait by a blindfolded six-year-old. Needless to say I’m more six than Cindy. I don’t want to say pictures of me generally look like chewed gum stuck on the bottom of a picnic table, but one look at my glamour shots and you know it’s body by Super Bubble, face by Bazooka.

As I’m dangling over the viewfinder end of the cannon, I notice that I have the attention of most of the tourists in the park. For a second, I’m a bigger attraction than the nude statue on the point. With shutters clicking all around me, I finally manage to secure a foothold on a pile of display cannonballs painted black and cemented solidly in place to withstand years of assault by squirrels, toddlers, and other evildoers. I balance on the pyramid of ammo long enough to release the hold of the big gun on my pants.

Just as hubby realizes my distress and rushes to my aid, I climb down looking as if I’d been straddling a missile made of black chalk. After checking me over for injuries and a better camera angle, he proudly displays the photographs he got while I was astride the big gun. As I squint at the display in the glare of the sunshine I suddenly realize that, new technology or old, no matter which cannon I get shot by, the results are the same.

But this time I was saved by the balls.


Melanie Avila said...

Oh that's funny! Google-fu...

My face goes all wonky if I hold a smile for too long so I always make people count to three. Even for my wedding. I looked down for every picture as the photographer counted, and as soon as he said two I looked up and smiled brilliantly. He forgot once and quickly realized why the counting was so important.

the Bag Lady said...

OMG, Amy! I was cackling like an old hen and hadn't finished reading the first line! The picture in my head of you astride a cannon.....

And Melanie, the Bag Lady's face is all wonky to start with, so even counting wouldn't help!

Great post, as always!

Dawn said...

OMG!! Are you SERIOUS?!??!

Carolyn Erickson said...

How did you do it? How could you possibly get from sitting astride a cannon to having your picture taken by a Canon, to an end line like: "no matter which cannon I get shot by, the results are the same."

And then the being saved by the balls? That's just bonus.

Writerly genius, that's what you have.