Seated comfortably at my desk, I have a rather precarious query. How many different places have you taken the opportunity to sit in your lifetime? I find it almost impossible to name all of the possibilities that occurred just in the last week, a conclusion that leads me to believe that seats, in all of their shapes and sizes, may be the most under-appreciated conception I can think of. Chairs, couches, benches, five-gallon buckets, or any number of things to sit on always seem to be around whenever someone utters that infamous, and sometimes ominous phrase, "have a seat." Rather than ramble on about possibilities, let me share some stories of friends and myself in which we were grateful to have a place to sit.
I was young, a second grader sitting at my desk daydreaming about kickball at recess. My teacher, Mrs. Beasley, was telling us about the unparalleled significance of the events that were about to take place. NASA approved the first civilian ever to be allowed to accompany a shuttle crew in to space. The civilian was a teacher also; I believe her name was Christina. Mrs. Beasley always seemed to be overly excited about events like this. I can remember thinking to my self, a shuttle launch? Big deal, I saw lots of spaceships flying around last night during the Star Wars movie I watched. About this time, the shuttle crew, dressed in orange moon suits, had exited the building they were in and started walking towards the lift. Mrs. Beasley hushed the class and turned the volume up on the television.
The announcer began to spit colloquialisms about patriotism, the excitement in his voice increasing with every word spoken. The crew reached the door of the shuttle, waving to the crowd before they entered. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one. The engines fired, gray and black smoke bellowed from beneath the shuttle. "We have lift off!" the announcer roared. The class was in frenzy; I was on the edge of my seat. We watched as the shuttle climbed higher and higher into the baby blue sky of Cape Canaveral. Seconds later the shuttle erupted into a gaseous inferno.
"The Challenger has exploded, oh my God!" the announcer repeated.
I felt my heart sink into my stomach, slumped back into my seat, laid my head down on my desk, and began to weep.
Harry, the starting center on the Blackcats foot- ball team, is having his seventeenth birthday party tonight. The Blackcats are hosting the undefeated, top rated Scorpions tonight to determine the number one spot in the upcoming playoffs. Willie, the quar- terback of the Blackcats, had a monstrous game: throwing for 267 yards and three touchdowns to the Blackcats' victory. The celebration began in the locker room and quickly moved to Harry's house. Best friends on and off of the field, Harry and Willie were pretty much inseparable.
"Man what a great feeling to be number one on my birthday," Harry said triumphantly.
"Yeah, I know; man, there must be a hundred people here," Willie replied. "You know what would really set this party off?" Willie asked. "A little bit of booze."
"Man, you know I don't drink," Harry snapped, then reconsidered, "But I think this definitely quali- fies as a special occasion."
Neither could buy alcohol, being underage. Unfortunately, being underage was not a problem for Harry's older brother Phil, who was in town for his birthday. Phil was more than happy to run to the liquor store for his little bro, especially after the way that the Blackcats knocked off the Scorpions.
After Phil returned with the alcohol, Harry and Willie decided to take a little ride in the new truck Harry got for his birthday. They slipped away from the party, bottle in hand, and left for destination unknown. Harry drove miles out of the city limits on a dirt road that led them to a dead end. They laughed, drank, talked, drank, spilled, and drank until there was no more to drink.
''Well, I guess it's time to head back to the party," Willie said.
"Yah, let's go!" Harry screamed as he threw the truck into drive and slammed on the gas pedal.
The truck began to speed down the road.
“Faster... faster!" Willie demanded.
Behind them the truck was leaving a cloud of dust; in front of them the road had a very sharp 45- degree turn, which was almost impossible to see in the dark. Harry missed the turn. The truck was mov- ing 90 miles per hour, struck the bar ditch and flipped five times. Harry and Willie were both killed in the accident. No one ever knew how the boys got the alcohol. No one knew when the boys left the party. The biggest question no one had an answer for was Why?
Phil attended the boys' funeral. He sat on the pew in front of Harry's casket, at the head of the church. He listened as friends and family of the boys said kind words on their behalf and he sank lower and lower into his seat on the pew. In his heart Phil knew the accident was not his fault, but the feeling of guilt was too severe. The next day, while sitting on Harry's bed, Phil put a pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
I have witnessed nearly all of the significant events of my life in the arms of one form of chair or another. It seems that there has always been a seat around when my knees weren't quite there.
Now, in the twilight of my life, I find that I sit quite a bit more than I stand. I often ponder stories such as these while I rest and watch the sun set. I find great joy in watching my grandson play with his toy tractor around my feet as I sit. It is never a problem for me to recall tales of ending up on unex- pected seats, while having unexpected feelings to tell my grandson... but that is another story.
Charles Lott is the head of the Measurement Department at PNM in Clovis. He takes courses at CCC in pursuit of an Associate’s in CIS.