Mr. M. Balmer

It’s uncomfortable to think about one’s own mortality.  However, there are moments in our lives when the subject is unavoidable.  I had one of those moments last weekend at Silver Dollar City, in Branson, Missouri.

No, the “moment” didn’t happen on the death spiral of a roller-coaster, nor did it come by way of heat exhaustion from the blazing temperatures.  This life-shaking moment came as I stepped off a main pedestrian thoroughfare to consult a map of the theme park.  A terse voice surprised me, “What … are you looking for?”

I looked up to see a neatly dressed undertaker, complete with measuring rod and top hat.  He was eyeing me intently.

Slightly startled by this “character,” I tried to collect my thoughts.  I looked around for Angie, who I noticed was keeping a healthy distance from us.  I stammered a bit, but finally managed a, “I might have forgotten where I was going.”  Without missing a beat the perfectly serious undertaker quipped, “I wonder why?”

Another glance over at Angie, and she was clearly a couple of steps further away than last time.  I was going to have to handle this on my own.

Ah, yes!  The glassblower!  I remembered we were going to see the glassblower.  I proudly shook off my “flusteration,” and told the undertaker, “We are looking for the Glassblower.”

“Now listen carefully,” he said in a hushed tone after leaning in toward me.  “Go down this street.  Take the first major right.  Follow it.  At the end of that street, you will find the glassblower.”

Finally regaining my composure, I thanked the undertaker for his help.  He reached into his coat pocket and withdrew a small piece of paper.  “Here’s my card… in case you need my services… at a later date….”  After a quick nod at both myself and Angie, he turned and walked away.

He’s right – I will need his services at a later date, but today I simply enjoyed the moment.

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.

What a country!

In the United States, you can always find a party.   In Soviet Russia, the Party finds you!

heartThat’s the kind of thing I expected when Angie and I went to Yakov Smirnoff’s show in Branson.  What I got was a whole lot more.

You see, Yakov is more than just a comedian.  He is an art teacher.  He is a professor of psychology.  He is a writer.  He is an actor.  He is a traditional Russian dancer.  We got a glimpse of each of these facets at his show.

The comedy in his show was family friendly, but sharp.  His clever play with the language was like George Carlin without the vulgarity.  “I bet you never looked at it that way … but you will now!” was his refrain.

What struck me most about Yakov was his genuine affection and appreciation for America.  He spoke in a way that isn’t fashionable now.   Continue reading What a country!