Sunday, December 27, 2009

Barrels of Fun

I’ve never been sealed in a barrel and sent over a waterfall. I went to the Niagara Falls once, when I was two years old. I was so overwhelmed by the mass of water surging over the cliff, that I threw my favourite toy train over the lookout point. It was maybe a naïve sacrificial acknowledgement that the power of nature was far more able to impress me than a manmade object. Somewhere in the roiling mass below the falls, my toy train sinks and rises in the world’s biggest toilet flush, and will keep me at that tender age of innocence. One of my first memories.

I’ve never actually shot fish in a barrel. I have overfed several goldfish, though, which amounts to the same thing. At county fairs in the UK when I was small, it was perfectly normal to come home with a plastic bag of fish at the end of the evening, having snagged a hook with a ring, or some such challenge. They flitted around the bowl for long enough to get a name and some anthropomorphic attachment (That one seems gloomy, let’s call him Saddy) before the last meal, as final as that of the condemned criminal before his execution. One pinch of the fishy smelling flakes too much, and Saddy would be spiraling down the toilet bowl in a somber farewell ceremony the following morning.

I’ve never had a barrel full of laughs. But I have laughed until I cried. My brother and father used to tickle me until I wept. I no longer enjoy that at all, but the kind of laughs I am talking about are the ones when something just snaps into place, and you can’t look the person you are with in the eye without having to fall to the table and beat it with your hands, begging for mercy as your chest implodes with laughter. If I could figure out how to gather those moments up and stick them in a barrel, I would.

Barrels can be full of challenges, persecution or unbridled joy. The best part about them is that they are not meant to remain sealed, but that whatever is in them will come bursting out at the right time, and that because they are limited in size, the persecution and challenges will be overcome, but the laughter never runs out. Challenges and persecution come as predictably as clockwork, but laughter comes suddenly and fills you up when you most need it.


  1. I love barrels, but mostly ones filled with pickles. LOL

    Great story Scott. :)

  2. @Pen: Pickles remind me of Richard Scarry- I don't know if you know him, but they feature in his books quite a bit :)


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