Last Wednesday as I was writing about my Pearl Harbor experiences a thought came to mind that made me laugh, I almost including it and even started writing about it , but then I thought more about it and decided to remove it. Well today’s a new day and I’ve decided to share it with you.
As I mentioned last Wednesday in the summer of 2008 we were vacationing on Kauai with four other couples. One of my friends decided to charter a flight to Oahu so that the five men could go to Pearl Harbor. We were boarding the small plane, which I believe was an eight passenger turbo prop, (I could be wrong.) and the pilot was directing us to various seats so that the weight was distributed evenly. As we were buckling in someone made a wisecrack about how much weight the plan could handle and if it might be overloaded. This was followed by some nervous laughter and a few more weight related comments, however unbeknownst to me two of the guys who were seated closer to the front were already feeling a bit apprehensive about the flight and the comments weren’t helping.
As we speed down the runway and were lifting off I casually made some remark about how Ritchie Valens had been killed in plane crash, a small plane like the one we were in. One of the guys, Joe, in the back quickly quoted a line from the Ritchie Valens movie “Not my Ritchie!” he said in a squeaky falsetto. Then he said something about the Big Bopper and three of us began talking about singers who died in plan crashes. That’s about the time that one of the two guys in front turned around, gave us a very grave look and said ” that’s F–ed up man! You shouldn’t be talking about that shit” then turned back around.
Well that all it took. Seeing as how Joe and I enjoy playing devils advocate we simply had to continue the conversation so we began assigning dead singers to the guys. “Okay, you’re Buddy Holly, and you’re Ritchie Valens. Let’s see you can be the Big Bopper, you’re Ricky Nelson and I’ll be John Denver.” Actually I would have preferred to be Jim Croce or Stevie Ray Vaughn but I didn’t think of them at the time. Let me tell you, all of this let’s pretend we’re dead singers who died in plane crashes while you’re on a small plane is unnerving. it was definitely not going well with the two guys in front. They kept turning around giving us the evil eye. Finally one of them said to Ricky Nelson ‘You guys are f–ed up man.” Ricky just smirked and began singing “Oh I’m a Travelin’ Man.” My God it was hilarious! One of those priceless Kodak moments.
Now you’ve got to understand, I’m not this fearless macho dude who laughs in the face of death, in fact, for years I had a major fear of flying. I used to fly with my heart in my throat and hands clamped to the armrest. It wasn’t until I finally accepted the fact that for the brief period while in flight I am not in control and I must put my trust in God and hope that He and the pilot are on the same page. I firmly believe God has a plan for us and when my time comes it won’t matter where I am or what I’m doing be it flying through the air, flying down the freeway or kicking back watching TV, when it’s my time, it’s my time.
Besides, the temptation to screw with those two was just too great. You see these two particular friends don’t spook easily so getting a reaction like that was a rare treat. So like a little kid, whose just found out something embarrassing or funny about his friends, I just couldn’t resist messing with them. I know it was cruel and maybe a bit selfish, but oh it was so much fun! I’m reminded of a line from a Ricky Nelson song, ‘Garden Party.’ “But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, sometimes ya just gotta please yourself.”
We landed safely in Oahu that morning and had an incredible Pear Harbor experience. After leaving Pearl we had lunch then headed back to the airport for our return flight. As before the Big Bopper and Buddy Holly sat in the front seats, while Ritchie, Ricky and John Denver sat in the rear. I thought it was going to be a much quieter flight this time around, but as I settled back in my seat gazing out the window at Diamond Head below, I swear I heard Ricky humming “Travelling Man.” Let the fun begin!
Just a thought…