Boom

operation crossroads

I’ve been thinking about the hydrogen bomb. Did you know that a few years ago while flying across the country a nut popped loose somewhere in a B-52 and armed four warheads? They stayed armed until the boys reached the west coast and noticed a blinking light or something.  Freaky interesting, huh? And a while ago, bored out of my mind, I found myself watching a stupefying documentary on TV about the “race to the moon.” In it was a clip from the 50’s about what you should do if the bomb falls and there aren’t any adults around. There was a little girl, maybe six years old, walking down a lane with her older brother, who looked about ten.  In a concerned voice the announcer said, “Kids, you know, there might not always be an adult around, so know how to duck and cover.“ The little boy and girl clutch their books and huddle against the brick wall. The camera cuts away at this point so I don’t know if the kids stubbed a toe or something. I hope they got home all right.

You probably already knew all this, hell, you probably spent a few classes practicing the old duck and cover, but I was out of the state during the 50s. I was listening to the Beach Boys.

It took me a little while to process that “how to protect your kid sister when the bomb falls“ film. Thinking about it now, I see I lived through the film it by tricking myself into thinking I was the insane one. I had only imagined what I had just seen. It was just a momentary hallucination, that is all…. Besides, aren’t adults always around to tell us what to do?

When I was a little boy they let me make models. You know, the bits of plastic in a box that comes with a cool picture of the model. Glue not included. (Why was the glue never included? Or was that just the Saudi authorities? [Ed: nope, it was the same in the States.]) I built those models with an intensity and focus only a half-blind kid can summon and which I’ve probably never equaled since. I remember with aching clarity the feel, scent, shape, weight of those model kits of Nike nuclear missiles. The white sleekness. The cool fins. Missiles which I then blew up with firecrackers.

Now I am inspired to go outside and practice a few duck and rolls in my yard while singing “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.”

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