02 June 2011

On the Rocks

 My wife and my brother and I enjoyed a nice round of cocktails at Manny's the other day.  Michelle looked out the window and noticed some large, painted letters on the side of a building.  "What's 'Bagro'?" she asked.

"A wine distributor on 39th," I told her.

Pat drained the rest of his scotch.  "It's underneath the Missouri."

"Underneath the Missouri?"  we asked in unison.

"Uh huh," he said, "pretty much all of 39th is under that Battleship...the USS Missouri.  You remember, Dad used to talk about it. They have it hanging up there.  Kinda' like a museum."

"I thought the Missouri was in Hawaii or somewhere," asked Michelle, "what's it doing here?"

"Well, like I said, it's some kind of museum.  They have the whole thing hoisted in the air with mammoth cranes and hanging over the city.  I'm surprised you missed it on your way over.  You wanna' go see it?"

This was too good to be true, so Michelle and I naturally took Pat up on his offer.  We paid for our drinks, headed outside and made our way to the escalator that ascended heavenward on 39th.  Tickets were a little unreasonable, but my brother is an architect in the city and knows the right folks. He pulled a couple of strings and we were headed up to the Missouri - with free drink coupons in our fists, no less.

On deck, almost 890 feet in the air (3 feet higher than the Mighty Mo is long), we were treated to a wonderful sight. Her beautiful 16-inch guns were decorated with red and white stripes, giving them the appearance of candy canes.

"All I want to do is wrap my arms around those guns," I cried, overcome by the moment.  Tears filled my eyes.

"Well, I think your wish might come true," said Pat, motioning toward the nearest gun turret and a sign that read "Line up here to wrap your arms around a gun barrel."

We were headed over in a rush of adrenalin when the music began.  Accordion-playing USO veterans came out of the gun turret's hatch and cordoned off the area with a swaying chorus line.  Elderly women in over-sized Uncle Sam costumes began a slow, shuffling dance and sang in one raspy voice,

"All I ever wanted to do
was watch old women dance
and wrap their arms around
the mighty, mighty guns
of the Mighty, Mighty Mo."

We could not break through their tight, accordionated defensive line in a frontal assault, nor could we find a way of flanking this group of octegenarians.  Michelle suggested distracting them with the bourbon in my hip flask, but I knew I would need it later and decided against such an option.  Dejected, we turned away and headed back down the escalator.  We did not even have the desire to redeem our free drink coupons.  It was proving to be a long, silent trip back down to the street, until Pat's face lit up and he turned to us.

"Hey, I've got an idea - they have the USS Iowa hanging up over some park just east of here...whaddya' say? Drinks are on me!"

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