Election year maze

corn03Now here’s an interesting metaphor.  Our annual trip to Shryock’s Corn Maze took on an intriguing theme:  the U. S. presidential election.

I suppose as we have to chart a course through the maze, progressing through many obstacles and making decisions at every intersection, we should also ponder the presidential election as we, the people, chart a course for our country, keep our nation progressing through many obstacles and choose someone who we think will be making the right decisions at every intersection.

Or at least for this year, making the right decisions much more often than the other candidate.

The “Cos”

billcosbySo we got some tickets to see Bill Cosby in concert down in Branson….

My first exposure to Bill Cosby’s standup humor came, of all places, in high school.  Yes, I had an English teacher/coach, who, as English teacher/coaches go, was good at what he did.  Quirky, but good.  He actually read to our class a self-published novel he had written.  Of course, his idol was Stephen King, so most of the teens in his novel died by the end.  Like I said, he was quirky.  As a reward to us near the end of the term, he showed us Bill Cosby:  Himself.

I know, I have digressed somewhat.

But then again, so does Bill Cosby.  Maybe not quite as rambling as me, but more like your favorite old uncle who always tells you stories.  That was what watching Bill Cosby in concert is like now.  He starts stories, moves on to others, then comes back to the first one in a way that made me feel like he’d invited us over for dinner and we were now enjoying some after-dinner conversation.

He spun his humorous stories from a chair in the middle of the stage.  He was wearing a casual sweatshirt, and it looked like he was fighting a cold by the way he went to the tissue box at various times during his performance.

Though still autobiographical, his humor has changed from Bill Cosby:  Himself.  Of course that was over twenty years ago.  Then, he talked about his family, being a father, his kids, his childhood.  Now, at 71 years of age, his jokes are more about the challenges of getting old, trying to swap recipes with fussy neighbors, and visits to the doctor and dentist.

I particularly enjoyed some of the stories about him and his wife Camille.  I “get” that he’s taken some liberty with the “grumpy” exchanges he describes in his routine.  The deep love and understanding that makes a 44-year marriage happen always sneaks in between the lines of his jokes.

“You get to my age, you can sit like this in a room, no TV, no radio, just sitting in a room, and you can get into trouble.”

“My wife will say, ‘I just straightened up in there!’   Well, I must be the mess.”

I hear you, Cos.  And Angie and I really enjoyed you having us over last night.

417 Idea Home

I like to surprise Angie with “extra destinations” on our annual birthday trips.  (The first corn maze we went to in Columbia was a big birthday surprise.)  This year was no different.  The fun we had in Springfield would probably have been enough (Japanese Stroll Garden, Braums, Battlefield Mall), but I wasn’t finished yet.  I took her down to tour the 417 Idea Home in Branson.

We’ve been talking about building a home for some time now.  The Idea Home was a collaborative effort that took four years to complete.  The home featured the best of what local architects, designers, builders, and suppliers had to offer.  It was meant to be an inspiration for people who want to build their own homes using the latest materials and technology.  Something that you can actually touch and walk around in.  And, best of all, Angie had never heard of it.

It was great fun for both of us, and it fueled another round of design plans and revisions.  One day, one day….

On a bicycle built for two

bikefortwoTwo seats.  Two sets of pedals.  One steering mechanism.

This contraption is truely a compatibility test for couples that surpasses what you could get on those many of those “online dating” sites.  You go through several stages on one of these things.  The first, of course, it, “Hey, that looks like fun.”  Next comes, “Okay, you are pedaling too (fast | slow) for me, could you (relax | pick up the pace)?”  Then comes, “In order to steer this thing, we have to work together.”  Then there’s a stop and a short break, followed by a pep talk by the one whose idea it wasn’t to stop and take a short break.

Then there’s communication.  Deep communication unlike what was occuring before.  Decisions on speed and direction are seemingly made and executed simultaneously.  You turn to your mate and see she’s smiling.  You realize you are too.

Riding on a side-by-side bicycle built for two on the Katy Trail near Rocheport is an education and a ton of fun at the same time.

Marriage encounter

shy

I joke sometimes about our yearly pilgrimage to the corn maze as being our “marriage encounter.”  As with most humor, there is a seed of truth hidden in the joke – I highly recommend the experience.

The maze gets you outside in the most beautiful time of the year.  It’s a neutral ground, where you are posed with a challenging task that is both physical and mental and must be completed together.  Well, I guess it isn’t necessary to complete it together, but that’s part of the fun for us.  You make decisions together.  You listen to one another.  You walk and get a lot of exercise.  You test your mind at each checkpoint as you answer the trivia questions.  You enjoy hanging around the farm afterwards, watching kids put quarters in the three-story tall gumball coaster in the barn.  Sometimes you pick out a pumpkin or two to decorate your porch at home.  You have a nice date in Columbia afterwards.

What better way to improve your marriage than by spending good quality time with each other?

Blue Man Group

BlueManGroupHow To Be a Megastar 2.0 Tour.  The Blue Man Group.  Where to begin talking about this concert.  Well, more than a concert…an experience.

Angie and I decided to have an “appetizer-dinner” at one of our favorite restaurants in Columbia, Old Chicago, which, incidentally is where this odd group is originally from (the city, not the restaurant).  Once we got to “The ‘Zou” we were greeted by the music and video of Mike Relm, the opening act.  We didn’t have the best seats in the house, but once the Blue Men started their show, we felt like we were in the thick of a great rock concert.

The show was much more than that, though.  It was music with inventive percussion instruments and a full backup band.  It was comedy with audience participation.  It was special effects with crazy lighting and luminescent clothing.  It was gross, with half-eaten food being used as an art medium.  It was art with paint flying and splattering.

All of these elements added up to a slightly off-kilter look at the phenomenon of fame and rock stardom.  Angie and I really enjoyed it on every level.

Corn maze

When I was in elementary school, I used to draw mazes for fun. I would fill up full-sized pieces of art construction paper in a couple of hours time with a maze that had only one solution. a large piece of art construction paper in a few hours time with a maze that only had one solution. They fascinated me, and they still do.

I read somewhere there are 6 different kinds of mazes varying in construction from simple single-path labyrinths to multidimensional mazes that are constructed on exotic surfaces (ie., Mobius strip). But for pure enjoyment value, I have to say your best bet is a maze constructed on an agricultural surface (i.e., corn).

I took Angie to our first corn maze as a birthday surprise back when we were still dating. Something about teaming up, roaming from checkpoint to checkpoint, and punching our cards as we found them really excited us. Here we were, putting our heads together and solving a problem.  We were a real team!

Since then, the corn maze has become an annual pilgrimage for us. Now that we’re husband and wife, the idea of putting our heads together and solving problems isn’t so novel, but the corn maze keeps calling us back, a ton of fun and the last big outdoor event each fall.