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Thursday, December 23, 2010

My Neighbors Christmas Cannon

The first thing I noticed when I moved to the suburbs were the lolling Hindenburg's on the wide lawns of narrow minds. These inflatables took the place of creativity in my old city neighborhood where people would decorate the old fashioned way with real pumpkins, real trees, climbing ladders to put up real lights on their roof, risking life and limb to bring in the season. In my new neighborhood a trip to Walmart or Target was all one needed to accomplish celebrating the season be it Halloween or Christmas. A great orange smiling face of plasticity complete with anchoring cables replaced pumpkins of old . These giant pumpkins let all know near and very far that there will be no scooping of seeds and hallowing out of jack o lanterns. Then Christmas came.

I first saw a few protoplasmic globes of the nativity. These giant snow globes lit from within quickly lost their translucence and became blurry sci fi creations of chickens hatching. A few windstorms tilted the amorphous incubators and then it was anyones guess what was in the giant globes. Pneumatic pumps whirred all night long in the sub zero air working to keep these dirigibles inflated until they become blobs of petroleum based plastic the next morning.  Penguins, a few giant Santas, and then my neighbor across the street, Mike, brought in the pi-est-de-resistance--the Christmas Cannon.

I first saw the Christmas Cannon getting my mail. The turret of the cannon is an igloo that turns on a base of white plastic snow. The cannon itself looks like a Panzer design with the tank flare at the end. The Christmas Cannon juts out into the night and turns on a pivot, wobbly moving as cold plastic slides against cold plastic, turning around until it points directly at my house. I expected a large explosion, but got nothing more than a flashing MERRY CHRISTMAS! Then the turret rotated back the other way in a large menacing sweep of the neighborhood where it ground to a halt and flashed it's MERRY CHRISTMAS again.

Now one might ascribe many motives to my neighbor's purchase. A sort of military MERRY CHRISTMAS with the implied warning that if you do not accept the salutation a twelve inch shell will blow you straight to hell. Mike is a staunch conservative Republican and I have to think that he is expressing his view of Christmas. I notice the turret does point directly at my house and of course Mike has seen my OBAMA signs from the election and my bumper stickers and of course our famous conversation where Mike said the country would literally collapse if Nancy Pelosi was elected Speaker and I had to let him know then he was talking to a liberal to the left of Michael Moore.

But maybe, maybe, Mike wasnt' really expressing his animosity to his left leaning neighbor. Maybe when the moment came in Target, he saw the Christmas Cannon as a way to convey to the world in a novel fashion, Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men. Maybe being a conservative and a Republican, Mike just felt that pointing a large cannon at someone was peace through strength. Maybe he saw the Christmas Cannon as something hearkening back to his own childhood when dad mounted a fifty caliber machine gun on the porch during the Yuletide and offered the neighbors a cup of cheer. I don't know though, I saw Mike goose stepping around his front yard the other day in high boots. Maybe he was just tamping down the snow.
Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove