PAX (5): Ace Ventura, Janeway, Script Kiddie, Sirmixalot, Suarez, Bette Midler showed for coffeeteria, per SOP
YHC has, of necessity, been digging into our shared American heritage… in recent months mostly focused on the American Civil War: initially getting a more broad overview of this noteworthy season in our history by touring key sites and learning the overarching story… but more recently delving deeper into some of the more noteworthy ‘characters’ whose actions directed, in part, where we find ourselves today.
In the midst of a long study of the complex and multi-layered person of Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson… my 1st F3iversary Q loomed and I felt inspired to translate some of what I have learned of (whatever your understanding / view of him) this HIM into action… transforming, as it were, in some minimal way our BD into something which reflected just a bit of this defining figure in the course of our great nation.
Against the backdrop of a continual bluegrass-ish gospel hymnody (as Jackson was a deeply religious man) – some songs of which bluntly spoke to our lives beyond the grave (‘it don’t matter where I lay; all my sin’s been washed away’) – coming forth from my cylindrical speaker (modern day drummer and fife?) zip tied to an upright 12″ x 18″ U.S. Flag so the ‘marching band’ and flag could go with our unit wherever we were ordered to march… at 0530 I met our mighty bridage in the gloom.
The first comment I received from a PAX upon arrival was “that’s not your normal workout gear” – as I arrived wearing worn blue jeans, t-shirt, bandana and dog tags. But I did not recall any man in the Civil War having the luxury of wearing a sweat wicking shirt and shorts – much less the half decent sneakers I had on… so I let the comment waft into the 70 degree, humid air to focus on mustering the troops. I immediately noticed that 75% percent of the PAX were in various conditions of ailment, recovering from sinus infections, not sleeping enough and the like… and I had one deserter (it’s a DANG good thing he wasn’t in Jackson’s brigade for REAL)… and I thought, “Yep, this is just how the troops should be as I’ve read: partially ill, mostly exhausted, and going AWOL.” But YHC had spent two nights studying the topographic charts of the AO via our cartographer Google Earth, and there was an objective at hand.
At precisely 0530 we did a quick mosey to The Spot where disclaimers were issued (“i.e., you signed up for this!”) and we loosened our limbs with:
10 Good Mornings IC
10 Windmills IC
10 Sun Gods IC
10 Moon Gods IC Willie Mays Hayes OYO
Jackson was notorious for not telling his men what was going to happen next, or even the ultimate objective, until each precise moment arrived, and this BD was led no different. Upon completion of the Warm Up, I barked that we would line up for a Bataan Death March, with the Six doing 3 AC Toy Soldiers before running to the front of the line, followed by the new Six, until we reach “that Earthwork across the field” (AKA “The Mound”). As we began, one enlightened PAX asked, “We aren’t staying on the sidewalk to get there?” – at which I didn’t recall Civil War troops in battle having much in the way of paved roads – so I allowed the musing to soak into the heavy air as I led us directly across, the wet, dewy, not-recently mowed grass field.
Once we arrived at the Earthwork, I stood the speaker/flag down and ordered the troops: “We shall begin here with 10 Fox Holes (WW1 SU – roll – Merkin – roll back – REPEAT), then climb to the top of the Earthwork for 10 No Surrender Jump Squats, then down the other side of the Earthwork for 10 LBCs; then run back over the Earthwork to our flag, until we have completed 3 rounds.” At that point I overheard one PAX state, “No Mercy Today!” to which I thought, “Sounds just like Jackson’s Brigade.”
After the 3 rounds, I lead our brigade (some suited up with rucks) cautiously to the top of the Earthwork and peered over. I announced “Men! We shall run to the corner of the Food Lion let’s go!” Once we safely made it to the corner, I announced “We shall lunge along the entire length of this wall to the front corner of the Food Lion, begin!”
Once we were at the front corner of the Food Lion, we were in an exposed position. So I looked down the line of HIM, some getting wheezy at this point, and exclaimed “We must sprint AYG to the back corner of the next building (the Racing Hall of Fame) and hope that we not get picked off! Line up in a People’s Chair with your backs against the wall once we arrive at our new position!” Like many of the movements of the troops in the War Between the States, our “sprint” was more akin to a fast tromp.
Once we were safely lined up against the RHOF, I gave the orders for a surreptitious advance: “We shall do 4 ct. PC Overhead Claps IC, and on the 4th Clap, take a large step to the right along the wall!” We slinked down the wall; coming to a corner, we changed to 4 ct. PC Milkers IC, continuing to step right on the 4th count; at the next angle we changed to 4 ct. PC Hand Raises, continuing to step right on the 4th count.
This brought us to a clearing where we could be targeted from all sides… but a large concrete arc wall was just across the way (over some odd black and white checkered ground). Crouching, I commanded us to run to the safety behind the wall. Once there, still all in one piece, we completed our final prep to accomplish our mission through 10 IC Diamond Merkins, 10 IC Mountain Climbers (an omen of things to come) and 10 IC James Bonds (had to prep the artillery).
Only then did I announce our true objective: “Men, we must take Hell Hill!” (to which I believe I heard at least two long groans and/or curse words). We ran to the top of this steep climb, air chairing at the pinnacle for our equipment supply line to arrive (the PAX wearing rucks)… and I planted the speaker/flag. We conquered Hell Hill by:
5 Burpees at the top, run to the bottom 10 AC Bird Dogs at the bottom, Bear Crawl back to top Rinse and repeat, ending with 5 Burpees at the top.
This could have gone on longer, as there was time (this particular routine BTW, is called “Rampage” in the Exicon and it states the Q can continue the torture to his heart’s content). But Jackson was a man of odd, heartfelt compassion once the mission was accomplished, and my heart went out to the PAX, and so I announced, “Well done! We have conquered Hell Hill! We shall now do a reasonably paced Black Snake Run from this mount back to the primary Flag!” Predictably, the PAX picked the concrete all the way for our retreat (Jackson was notorious for doubling back in his marches for the element of surprise), but I felt it was fine to give them relative ease and enjoy the moment of having accomplished our feat on our way to our fort (Pavilion).
Once there, we had we had enough time for each PAX to call out two rounds of Mary while the extended version of Phil Keaggy’s “The Survivor” played in the background. They did not disappoint, proving their mettle and then some by calling out leg raises, flutter kicks, monkey humpers, WW2 SUs, some sitting on your Six leg crunch thing the name of which I cannot muster, and more, usually all in the 20 to 25 count range (so lots of pain), ending with continually extended controlled merkins.
Our Acceleration Point was begun by a trio singing one verse a cappella of “I Love to Tell the Story” followed by this quote:
“Our lives have been checkered in a most marked manner, and we are still – notwithstanding the ill omens of our youth – living life, and I trust that before us are the brightest of our days. In taking a retrospective view of my own life, each year has opened with increased promise. I have crosses, and at times am deeply afflicted, but however sore may be the trials, they lose their sadness and regret, and instead of producing injury, I feel that I am but improved by the ordeal.”
~ Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson
(While I did not read it, Jackson continues this statement by asking: “But how is this accomplished? By throwing myself on the protection of Him whose
law book is the wonderful Bible; I would not part with this book for countless
universes. I feel ready to make every sacrifice to carry out the will of Him who
loved us as to give his only begotten son to die for me.”)
I was at this point planning on leading the PAX in the Pledge of Allegiance, but it escaped me in the moment and I turned directly to requests for prayer, of which there were many, mostly related to deep, nearly desparate physical situations for friends and family of PAX, as well as some relational issues. We also noted the daunting task approaching this weekend for which SirMixalot has been faithfully training, GrowRuck. Because the volume and heaviness of these requests were too much for YHC himself to bear, we formed a Ball of Man, and in the tradition of Jackson when he prayed, I raised my right hand, and lifted up all these needs and requests to the One who can in His Providence intervene miraculously or through human agents, asked Him to shoulder these burdens for us all, and surrendered them to His gracious will.
YHC would not have made it into F3 apart from a PAX in another region, and I would not be part of F3 today were it not for the specific PAX who were present with me today. I value their friendship and lives more than they know, and am humbled that they would allow me to lead. This past year has been good, one of progress in some areas for myself and our group, but honestly with some greater challenges to overcome ahead. I believe as we grow closer together, and support each other stronger, and love to tell the story to others who need F3, that the coming year could, despite the challenges, be the best for us yet.