Tuesday, March 16, 2010

boy in a box

Boy's Life

Those two words are still magic for me.

It was (and still may be, for all I know) the official publication of the Boy Scouts of America.

That was the prosaic description of the magazine.  For me, it was a monthly magic carpet of newsprint wrapped in its glossy cover.  Taking me to worlds as exotic and diverse as California surfers, Watusi warriors, and Amazon archers.

Almost every article was a not very well disguised take on boys passing through some ritual to manhood.  The voice of Rudyard Kipling always lay just above the subtext.

After all, that was the point of the Boy Scouts, wasn't it?  All that talk of trustworthy, loyal, thrifty, brave, reverent was not designed to leave us in our 12 year-old worlds.  We were to change.  To grow.  To put some back into it.

Thoughts of those Watusi warriors have darted through my head this week while watching the fireworks in front of our local church.

The photograph at the top of this post is where the firework artisans want your eyes directed.  As each layer of the castillo is lit, the viewer is to look higher and higher in awe at each display until the final three layers of this pyre of piety are lit.  And the top layer flies high -- spinning in honor of the good Saint Pat.

But there is a foundation story, as well.  While the fireworks spray their fire and rocket bursts, little boys gather, cover themselves with their cardboard armor, and scuttle beneath the dragon's breath.To show their budding macho natures.  To pass through the fire from boyhood to bravery.

And, as in all rites of passage, this one is painful.  The burns are very real.  But the night before, many of them cry, out of fear of the fire, but also out of fear that they will be found wanting on the field of battle.

I understand the tears. 

On the second night of the fireworks, I was busy recording the event for you, and I did not not notice one of the mini-rockets that shoot from the spinning wheels.  Not that I could have done anything.  They travel at Tinkerbell speed.

It caught me right on the stomach -- one of my more-insulated body parts.  But it took the breath out of me.

And I was not alone.  Other audience members took as much fire at the minutemen at Lexington, with similar wounds (at least, on the non-mortal side of the wound scale).

Eyes at the top praising a saint.  Boys passing to bravery at the foundation.

There is enough symbolism to mine there, it could occupy a full week of writer conferences at San Miguel de Allende.

"Your assignment is to find an appropriate analogy to describe the mortal and immortal in daily Mexican life.  Go."


Anonymous said...

what a great picture of the castillo! so now you see, or should i say, felt firsthand what it is like to be in the crossfire.

no time to think of analogies now as i get ready for the day. have a great one!


1st Mate said...

Brave little guys! Hope no one was seriously hurt this year. It's truly a night of thrills and chills. Did you see the bull?

Anonymous said...

And now I know a know a main difference between us, Old Boy. I got Boys Life as well.

As soon as it arrived, I turned immediately to the joke section at the end, reading and memorizing them, then spending a month, assaulting friends and family with my new material.

I missed the Kipling but got the Red Skelton.

And that made all the difference.


- Mexican Trailrunner said...

a monthly magic carpet of newsprint — Steve, that is a great line! Just great. You and Felipe are never ending sources of memorable lines on my blog roll.

Can't believe you were hit by a rocket watching the castillo. Up here, we've had our share of castillo disasters in the last few years. One even included body parts! Disconnected body parts, that is. Also kid injuries. . you'd think if anyplace was a No Smoking Area. . . oh but wait, this is Mexico Lindo where there are no rules. Viva Mexico.

Anonymous said...

It seems that you have entertainment day and night where you are staying.

I feel fearful for the little boys under the fire and sparks. The only protection, a piece of cardboard held over the heads. Their hands are exposed to the fire.

The pictures tell the story.


Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- And it was great fun.

1st Mate -- Indeed, I did see the bull. See today's post.

ANM -- Of course, as you know, my version of Kipling has a definite Skelton tilt.

Mexican Trailrunner -- Thanks. I appreciate the comparison. The fireworks are always the very essence of Mexico -- danger and beauty in one package.

Mom -- The last two weeks have been adventure-packed. As for the boys, they seem to enjoy every moment of the experience -- after they realize they are not gong to burn up. As for this boy, he is off to a ziplining adventure in Puerto Vallarta.