Trip to Bartlesville

Part 2 - Stiff-Necked Generation

Upon contemplation of the tent full of spiders, it is always healthy to move briskly on to a new topic, so the saga of the trip to Bartlesville will recommence with due speed.

The timeline of the trip to Bartlesville is unclear in my forty-two year-old memory banks. There was the campsite at the Shinn Outpost, there was the clandestine overnight stay at the Smith Residence, there was the time we were sitting around the campfire praying, I sitting on a log with my legs stretched out before me when along comes Fred the Deceived Dog who proceeds to stand with his front legs on top of my knees (Fred was an oversized German shepherd with a size 42 tongue). But this story is not about Fred, and we will hasten to blot out the topic of Fred. This story is about my stiff neck.

As stated above, the timeline and complete sequence of events is unclear, but at one point Scott Smith and I were hanging out at his mother's house while everyone else was somewhere else. We were studying - a method of relaxation, often resulting in sleep, but usually resulting in TV watching. On this day Scott was in a remote corner of the house and I was in Scott's bedroom at the desk reading a book in preparation for sleep (rack, we called it in those days - another story). It soon became apparent that my neck was contracting an acute crick in the region of my left shoulder blade. True, this region is not popularly considered part of the neck, but the result was a stiff neck which I could not turn. I eventually took to lying flat on my back in the floor, which is where I was when Scott found me and concluded that I had truly reached an advanced stage of study.

My condition grew worse over the next day or two, so that all fifty some-odd members of our expedition began to recognize me by the tilt of my head. I resembled one of those birds you see hanging around the garden. I also could be recognized in part by a jean jacket I wore, and although this feature had nothing to do with my neck pain, it features somewhat prominently in the conclusion of this story.

On the evening of the next day or two, we had all assembled at the local park for a rousing game of Capture the Flag. The object of this game has become lost to the ages for me, but it had something to do with a bunch of guys roaming around a large, unlit area, trying to do something mysterious before the opposing team managed to do something mysterious first. Something to do with capturing a flag I suppose, but I don't really remember too well.

I was confined to spectate from the front seat of one of the cars parked at the edge of the park. Capture the Flag, which is always played at night in an unlit area, is not an easy game to watch, but I was watching with all force when suddenly I see myself walking up the hill towards my place of spectation. Initially thinking I was having an outer body experience, I twisted my head two degrees to the left, let out an appropriate remark, and realized that I was, in fact, not.

Closer scrutiny revealed to my eyes that it was not me walking towards myself up the hill, but Kevin Shinn, cleverly disguised as me, walking up the hill wearing his own or someone else's jean jacket and holding his head to one side in a now recognizable manner. Kevin was on the opposing team than the one headquartered somewhat near the car in which I sat.

It was a veritable coup. Napoleon would have jumped up and stood in his seat to have a better look. It was the move most brilliant and cunning. I don't remember if it worked or not. I know that as he drew nearer his mark, there was a sudden outcry from the opposition, and his game was up. But the move was unparalleled in the history of the sport.

© 2015 Dane Tate