Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Escape from Birmingham

     The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays.  The combination of food, a long weekend, and the event taking place in the sweet summertime is reason enough for some heavy duty celebrating.  It would be absolutely un-American to not have a good time on this day, because after all we are celebrating our Independence.  As a trained Historian, I could go into a long soliloquy about the actual facts behind the 4th, but I won't do that.  You could watch paint dry at the house without reading all that, and it actually may be more entertaining.  Bottom line is Americans love a party, and on the 4th of July we do it up right.  God Bless America!  Fireworks are part of the festivities also, and every year we try to go and watch some explosions somewhere.  We could have hung out around here, and watched the neighbors blow stuff or themselves up.  However, after a long day of fishing and eating with my Brother, Aunt, and Uncle we decided to finish strong and head Downtown for "Thunder on the Mountain."  The Rockets Red Glare!  The Bombs bursting in air!  Although, Francis Scott Key wrote that during the War of 1812 not the War for Independence/American Revolution.  History is cool, huh?  On to the fireworks!

     The day had been full of fun, and we wanted to end it right.  Patriotic bunch we are around here, and we love us some USA!  Heck, I even watched that crazy Soccer stuff when the good old USA was playing.  Didn't understand any of it, but my fellow countrymen were involved.  I'm always in the corner of the greatest country in the world.  USA!  USA!  USA!  Ok, back to the fireworks.  We drove down to lovely Birmingham, Alabama to watch the annual fireworks event.  This event has taken place as long as I can remember, and I used to get on top of the roof of my childhood home to watch back in the day.  The pyrotechnics illuminate the "god of fire" Vulcan, whose statue dominates the top of Red Mountain on the Southside of Birmingham.  Fitting that we light up the Roman god of fire for Independence day!  That's right Big Bad Vulcan and the largest cast iron butt cheeks in the world!  How else would you want to celebrate the 4th?  I surely don't know.

     I am still a 42 year old college senior these days at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, at least for about another month.  I will graduate in August, but I may keep on keeping on for a while.  We'll see.  However, I am able to park on campus with my trusty lot 15 parking permit.  I figured that we could slip on down to the fireworks show, and park in one of the designated lots and then slip on out all easy like.  Best laid plans.  They always work right?  Best laid plans are the devils handiwork.  True story.  Getting to the show was easy, but getting out?  That is another story.

     We were able to enjoy the show on the campus green behind my home away from home, Heritage Hall, and the scenery and people watching were top notch.  I love UAB, and I feel really comfortable on the campus.  Even if I couldn't find an open bathroom easily.  That's right, old Iron Bladder strikes again.  This ain't the fist time, and it won't be the last.  I drink a lot of water.  I mean a lot of water, and it tends to cause issues from time to time.  You can read "Cristos the Spartan and The Lost Bathroom" for further proof.  I ran all over campus looking for a latrine, but could not locate one that was open to the public.  I don't blame them for locking everything up tight, but if you gotta go, you gotta go.  I have learned the ins and outs of the campus at UAB in my tenure as a student, and I hit all the spots that could hold what it was I was seeking.  No luck.  Finally, I was able to gain access into Campbell Hall and a bathroom.  I ran across a guy in a Soccer jersey of some kind trying to lift a milk from the locked cooler area until he saw all 6 ft. 1 220 lbs. of determined bathroom seeking dude coming his way.  He got the heck out of dodge, but on a positive note I was able to shake the dew off my proverbial lilly.

     I arrived back at the fireworks viewing area just in time.  My lovely wife had begun to think that I had went missing, and probably finally skipped off to Mexico.  However, I did come back.  I always come back.  As we were watching the fireworks high atop Red Mountain I began to notice a strong smell of someone who lets say probably hasn't seen the business end of a bar of soap in quite some time.  I looked to my right and I observed four or five soccer hooligans hanging around.  What is up with this soccer stuff anyway?  They had their soccer jerseys on, and were even carrying a ball around.  I started to begin a dialogue with these guys about the game of soccer, and inquire about the game that I don't really understand but I thought better of it.  We watched the remainder of the fireworks show, and then attempted our exit strategy.  An easy exit was not in the cards on this night.

     I grabbed up the lovely Miss Madino and threw her up on my shoulders, and turned to my people and said "Posse up!"  I figured that the sooner we left the area the better chance we would have of escaping the festivities without any problems.  We bid adieu to our soccer friends, and were hell bent for leather.  So to speak.  We got to the car, and jumped in.   Backed out of the parking space, and I thought for a second, "We got this.  That was too easy!"  Wrong.  Things were about to get mighty complicated.

     We were stuck in the parking lot for what seemed like an eternity.  Undoubtedly, every other person that parked in this particular area had the same idea that we did.  Gridlock directly from Satan himself.  Plenty of idiots, and morons aplenty.  During my rant over our predicament, Jesse spoke up and said, "Dad, can I ask you a question?"  My first response was, "No," but then I thought that I should be nice to the boy who one day will grow up and have an option of placing me in a retirement home.  I then said, "Yes son.  How can I help you?"  He asked, "What happens to all the idiots and morons when Mom is driving?  They seem to disappear, and only come back when you're driving."  Good point, although I do seem to be a lightning rod for stupidity.  That sentence spoke volumes.

     Long story short we ducked and weaved through Downtown Birmingham.  I tried every driving trick, and shortcut I knew.  None if it helped.  I drove toward the North side, then toward the South side, but it became obvious really quick that we could not escape easily.  Finally, we ended up almost right where we started.  I will say that there were plenty of policemen running code, and ambulances doing the same.  It seemed like some sort of Fireworks Apocalypse had occurred.  We finally made it home with both kids asleep in the car about 2300 hrs.  Celebrating freedom comes at a price sometimes I suppose, and while the United States of America is without a doubt the greatest country in the world- the traffic issues could use some improvement.  I blame Soccer.  That's all I got.  God Bless America!