"Hey," Flat Stanley posted on her daughter's Facebook page, "Wanna come firewalking with me?"
Gotta hand it to the kid, she didn't miss a beat. "Sure. Early birthday present?"
Flat Stanley's a lot like an Australian Shepherd. Why settle for herding just one sheep when you round up 20? (And it's better when the other 19 don't ask for an early birthday present.) Not that people who join in Flat Stanley's wildy varying ideas of fun are sheep, but it is like when you're out drumming up participants for an adventure, you usually end up shepherding most of them toward the destination. And losing a few on the way.
But not Carl. He's a younger guy, and this was pre-Facebook between him and FS, so he used email to arrange a carpool between us. He'd drive two hours to FS's locale, climb into the FSMobile and ride the rest of the way. About 2 pm we headed out, stopping at the local Subway so he could stoke his buff, training-for-the-Marine-Corps-marathon-six-foot-something frame with a footlong.
On location we joined FS's daughter and our peers in affirming "I Am Terrific" "I Feel Good" "I Am Happy" "Yes!" "Yes!" "Yes!" High-fives all round! Each person wrote a self-limiting belief on one side of a board, then BAM smashed the board barehanded.
Take THAT, Bitch.
We participated in the solemnity of watching the start of the fire, placed our broken boards on the pyre, then filed back to the retreat room for more focus and learning. At dusk we trekked back to the fire, which was down to juicy red hot embers that hadn't cooled enough to smolder.
Dave wanted to know: Was this really about walking on them? Uh, yeah, Dave, that's what you paid to do.
Karen was adamant that she was here to observe only, who cares about the fee.
Flat Stanley was waiting for proof that the fire was ready to walked upon. Surely someone would wave a special thermometer over the surface, or test it with a substance of standardized flammability, or at least the instructor would walk on it first to demonstrate its safety . . . but no. The instructor said "Who's first?" And Flat Stanley's daughter walked over top of people 18 inches taller and 150 pounds heavier and said ME.
Chip off the old block, she is. There are not words enough to describe how FS felt at that moment. "Freaked out" would be a good start, though. And "awed."
Everyone walked the fire. Even Dave. Even Karen. FS's crazy daughter crossed three times. FS crossed twice. No injuries. Here's proof:
Crossing rural VA on I-66 about 11 pm, Carl said he was hungry. Ten minutes later FS got around to answering. "Wanna stop at Sheetz?"
Carl's from Delaware. Apparently they don't have Sheetz over there. "Excuse me?" he stammered, uttered, stuttered. Great, FS realized. The poor guy's freaking out because he's all alone in the dark with a woman who just propositioned him.
A bit rattled, FS said, "Sheetz. Like Rutters."
Great, just great, FS. Animals rut. Like when you take your second-grader to the zoo to see Mother Nature on a day when she's feeling frisky.
"Orange and red overheads. They look alike," FS blurbled. "We got gas there earlier today."
Whew. Two exits later there were signs for Arbys. So what? We were going to eat at Sheetz. No way was FS going to walk over hot coals, then leave Carl forever wondering about those hot sheets.