honorary Hose Monster:
My boss called me back into his office yesterday morning to tell me that since the appearance of my miserable failure of the Airport Song story and my sordid attempt at fixing it, Self-Indulgence Month has gone quite downhill at the Hose Monster Blog. I had no choice but to agree. He said I could continue the ex-girlfriend stories at my discretion, but that he was lifting the obligation.
Then came my new assignment. Go to DC. Find the sniper and kick his ass. So off to the airport I went.
While waiting for my connecting flight into National in St. Louis, I heard that authorities have caught the men they think are responsible for the Beltway shootings over the last few weeks. My cell was low on battery, but I managed to complete a call to my boss’s home, interrupt his dinner and receive his blessing to turn my assignment into a brief vacation in our nation’s capital. I hung up my phone and returned to reading the fear mongering going on in this week’s issue of Newsweek.
Most of you probably know that CIA director George Tenet claimed last week that the threat of another terrorist attack on the US is currently as high, if not higher, than it was in the summer of 2001, before two buildings fell down and, depending on the pundits to whom you listen, a new age began.
So terrorism threats are up again, and I’m winging my way to the metaphorical lion’s den. I probably should feel some sort of trepidation at all of this, worry about my safety, hope that my weekend passes uneventfully, and that if another attack is to happen, to hope it delays itself until I am safely back in the cornfield. I don’t feel this way.
Obviously, I’d prefer it if no further attacks happen, and a very large part of me believes that will be the case. However, a larger part of me thinks another catastrophic event will occur sometime before my next birthday (in June, so start saving your pennies, because I like expensive gifts). If that’s going to be the case, how do I feel about it right now, writing two blocks off DuPont Circle?
This may be the craziest thing I’ve ever felt, but if we’re going to have to endure more horrible attacks (and please don’t misinterpret the rest of this post to think I actually want any of this to happen), I want to be there when they occur.
Is that really stupid or really weird?
I’m not afraid of dying. Obviously I have much left to accomplish with my life, and if I die tomorrow, I’ll be one of those stories in the newspaper where everyone is lamenting how a life full of promise was tragically cut short. But I’ve done a lot with life to this point. I’ve had my successes, I’ve learned volumes from my failures, I’m confident that my stint on this planet has had a lot more positive than negative consequences for those who have known me. I’m at peace with life. I could go tomorrow and be okay with it.
More importantly, if asshole terrorists want to test the fortitude of our collective citizenry and see if they can really beat us down, I want to be part of that group metaphorically raising my middle finger at them and digging through the rubble to try and find one last survivor. Not to toot my own horn excessively, but while I complain a lot about stupid petty things, when it comes to genuine moments of punctuation, good luck trying to beat me down. If I had ever been a soldier on a battlefield when we actually had divisions crashing into divisions, you would have had to kill me before getting me to surrender.
The analogy holds true on terrorism. You cannot kill the rattlesnake without destroying its head. Same with our nation. You want to beat us down, you better try and get the citizen leaders out there (not most of the politicians out there, seeing as it’s rare that a genuine citizen leaders makes it into the Oval Office, and to a lesser extent, to Congress). The problem with that effort is me and the multitude of others like me. I’m a leader, and I ain’t going to roll over. Moreover, I’m going to get on the phone to many other true leaders I know, and we’re just going to keep rolling on but not rolling over.
We’re methodical problem solvers, and these terrorists are but one more challenging problem. Had I been in New York last year, I would have tried to get to Ground Zero to clear shit away. When they barred me from the site, I’d be out doing other things. Donating blood, directing friends and family to other friends and family. Restoring the social infrastructure and rebuilding emotional support networks. When something bad happens, I slip into problem solving mode. I can be cold, even a little callous at times, in pursuit of the solution, and in those moments, rather than becoming hysterical, I’m excessively rational. The quest for a solution to the problem saturates me and nothing truly periphery sinks in. I’ve never had to do this for days on end with no sleep, but I think I probably could if the situation demanded it. And I wouldn’t want to try and inject a latent fear or problem into people who solve problems the way I do. Fear is an emotional response; responding to adversity is a rational reaction. Apples and oranges my friends. You cannot turn apples into oranges.
So yeah, it may be sick, but hey terrorists, if you want to test us again, bring it my way. You may just get me, and my mother will hate you until her dying day, but I’ll be okay with it. If you miss me, you’re going to see why your pansy-ass actions probably will not make much headway. People will scream, politicians will sling mud, and we’ll wonder in the media how such a thing could happen again. However, in the homes and apartment buildings spanning an area that bridges two oceans, you will see more flags flying and more people resolving to be themselves more than ever before.
You want to make us afraid? Test my fortitude, asshole. Try to figure out how to inject fear into people who want to be near the horror, if the horror is to happen. We have too many confident/arrogant fucks out here just like me who want the opportunity to stand up and say “eat shit” as best we can.
In the meantime, I’ll cease blowing sunshine up my own ass and return to my weekend visiting friends and drinking choice libations. But I’m ready for you, and so are a couple million people who think like me.
Bring it if you dare.