Friday, July 15, 2011

No Thanks, E.T.

     Funny, I don't think of myself as a guy steeped in vanity, but a dream I had a couple of nights ago has me questioning how well I know myself.
     I was day hiking in the Trinity Alps when I came across a spaceship. A little purple man--not green, purple--invited me inside. He cut right to the chase.
     "We have a mission for you."
     "Yes, you."
     "We have devised a verbal campaign to save earthlings from destroying themselves and their planet, and we have chosen you to deliver our messages."
     "Well, okay. But, y'know, I have a family, and I have a job." Maybe my family and my job didn't mean anything to those little purple bastards, but they would know in no uncertain terms that they were important to me.
     "You would deliver our messages over the internet. All we ask is one hour per week."
     "That sounds workable," I said. "Anything else about this assignment I should know?"
     They looked at each other. I knew those little purple bastards were hiding something.
     "Well, your messages will be in video form. Since image is important to earth people, we propose to modify your appearance somewhat."
     "How so?"
     "We wish to restore the dormant hair follicles on your cranium. You will no longer be in the throes of male pattern baldness."
     "Cool," I said.
     "And, you must grow your hair long, and wear it in dreadlocks. You should never be heard listening to any music save that of Bob Marley, and you should be seen eating quinoa with every meal."
     "Yes, dreadlocks."
     "Will my hair still be gray?"
     "Yes. The gray will lend credibility."
     I weighed the pros and cons of their offer for a few moments. "So really, just an hour per week?"
     "Yes. One hour per week."
     "Okay. Sign me up."
     Rhonda was able to stay home the next morning. I told her and Dylan about the dream.
     "DREADLOCKS?" they asked in unison. Family stereo.
     "Yep, dreadlocks. I'd be one stylin' middle aged dude."
     "Yeah, Dyl?"
     "If that ever happens for real, and they say you have to wear dreadlocks, please turn them down."
     "That kind of stings your old man, Dyl."
     "Dad, the truth hurts. You should never be seen in public wearing dreadlocks."
     Just wait until Halloween. 

Monday, July 04, 2011

America's Braveheart?

     "Young 'giant' Peter Francisco was the most renowned common soldier in the Continental Army — and possibly in the entire history of the U.S. Army." That's from an article in Military History magazine.
     He was a giant of a man for the time, standing six feet six inches, and weighing 260 pounds. In 1777, he joined the 10th Virginia Regiment at the age of sixteen, and over the next three years, his battlefield prowess gained him a near-mythical status among fellow soldiers. He carried a five-foot sword made under the authorization of General George Washington. Washington himself said that the American Revolution might well have been lost without the benefit of Francisco in key battles.
     Why isn't he better known? Well, one reason might be that he was not a member of the landed gentry. In fact, his origins are a bit of a mystery. Legend says that that he was brought to North America at the age of five. He was found sitting on a dock in what's now Hopewell, Virginia, wearing expensive clothing. He spoke only Portuguese. He was taken in by an uncle of Patrick Henry, Anthony Winston, and lived with and was tutored by the family until the start of the American Revolution.
     After the war, he married and had two children. He lost his wife in 1790, but later remarried and had four more children.
     He was probably born in 1760, and died in 1831. Perhaps his name will one day gain the recognition warranted by his superhuman feats.
     After all, without Peter Francisco, we might have grown up with fish and chips instead of hamburgers.