Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bird Of Paradise

When I was ten years old, I saw an old movie called “Bird of Paradise”. It was the story of star-crossed lovers on a Polynesian island. The man was a soldier of fortune and the woman was the native chieftain’s daughter. Their love was thwarted when the woman, a virgin, had to hurl herself into the local volcano, to appease the gods. I hate when that happens. I took this to heart, and worried that I would be called on to chuck myself into Mount Olympus, the nearby mountain on the Salt Lake City horizon. I pictured the mountain blowing it’s top, then my doorbell being rung by guys in grass skirts. I wasn’t sure what a virgin was, but was pretty sure I fit the bill. I was a skinny, gangly child. My grandmother remarked one day that if I got out in a big wind, I would fly away. I remember sitting in her screened porch on windy days, wondering what that would be like. I was a bit terrified, and a little bit fascinated. I saw myself floating away, yelling “Tell Mom and Dad I love them”. One particularly windy day, I decided to test out my grandmother’s theory and tried to fly. The neighbor across the street had a little hill that rolled down into the next neighbor’s yard. I ran like hell, jumped as high as I could, and opened my coat to catch the wind. Needless to say, I never got airborne. I didn’t doubt my grandmother. I just assumed I hadn’t done something right. Maybe I had run into the wind, or maybe it wasn’t windy enough. Or maybe, just maybe, it was because I wore Keds tennis shoes instead of P.F. Flyers. According to their ads, P.F. Flyers made you run faster and jump higher. I guess I might’ve been airborne with the proper footwear. Had she owned P.F. Flyers, that Polynesian virgin from the movie could have jumped the volcano, and run for the nearest cruise ship. Shoes really do make the woman.

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