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My Battle With the Blue Angels

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 I come from a place in California called Redding, which literally means “Whew, it’s like a sauna in here.” But residents of Redding are blessed with two lakes, two snow-covered mountains, and the Sacramento River—all within close proximity. So I had a few things to look forward to every summer (besides no school, of course).

Another thing I looked forward to was the air show. It’s a huge event in Redding. There are a few reasons for this. The main one is that there isn’t a whole lot to do in Redding, besides check out the Bluelight Specials at Kmart.

Well, one Friday the only items on the Bluelight Special were a few shirts from the Dennis Rodman collection. So since we had nothing better to do, my family and I headed off to the air show. Now, keep in mind that it was one of those it’s-so-stinkin’-hot-I-feel-like-I’m-going-to-die-after- I-drown-in-my-own-sweat kind of days. I don’t know how familiar you are with the whole air show format, but basically this is how it works: You and a bunch of other unintelligent people sit on a blazing hot asphalt runway. Then you watch freak pilots such as the Blue Angels, who have no concern for their own welfare, dive-bomb toward the audience. It really is quite a treat.

Armed with ammo
On Sabbath, the day after we’d seen the Blue Angels perform at the air show, my brother and I decided to do another favorite Redding activity: get a bunch of friends together to take a little jaunt down the Sacramento River. As we placed the raft in the water, a guy on the shore told us that none other than the Blue Angels themselves were also enjoying the river that day! Well, we started on our river venture with a well-equipped craft, including the official “Jones’ bag o’ rotten fruit and veggies” for whatever we might run into.

Those of you unfamiliar with the concept of rafting might be sitting at home wondering, Now, why would you need a bag of rotten fruit and vegetables? Actually, there are quite a few wild animals— such as whales and sharks and eels—that try to capsize your raft while you’re going down the river. And it’s a well-known fact that a few well-placed whacks from a rotten carrot go a long way in maintaining the peace. And let me tell you, I’m all for peace.

Well, it was about this time that our merry band of raftketeers came upon a group of rafts. We, of course, yelled the customary greeting: “Hey, how ya doing?” Then, on a hunch, my brother—who’s notorious for getting himself into more trouble than he can handle—yelled at them across the water, “Hey, are you guys the Blue Angels?”

As they answered yes, they were the Blue Angels we’d come to know and love, I noticed the rotten orange my brother was hiding behind his back. “Let loose the orange of war!” someone in our group shouted. It got pretty ugly after that. Now, I don’t know about you, but throwing rotten fruit at military-trained buff guys isn’t at the top of my list of “favorite things to do while rafting on a Sabbath afternoon.” Yet feeling that we were now in too deep to retreat, I stood up and yelled, “Take that, flyboys!” as I hurled a well-browned banana in their direction. I don’t like to take credit for this, but I think it was that banana that sent those airplane jockeys over the edge.

A millisecond later the Blue Angels grabbed their paddles and started after us like crazed buffoons. So here’s the scenario: 12 highly trained government pilot buff-type dudes (mind you, these are all technical terms) covered in brown banana and rotten orange suddenly seek revenge against two stickboys and their friends. “It looks like they’re—oh, no, they’re coming after us!” one of our guys yelled. “Row, boys! Row like the wind!” commanded my brother.

All of us grabbed our paddles and pushed and prodded our little raft down the river. But, of course, we were no match for those flyboys. They were bigger, faster, and stronger. And they smelled a lot worse than we did too—sort of like rotten fruit. Once they caught up to us, it became an all-out war. Luckily, we Joneses had thought ahead and loaded our water guns with grape soda. So we were able to save our party and escape alive by doing two things simultaneously: (1) paddling and (2) shooting grape soda.

Fight fights
Have you ever had a fight with your parents or one of your friends? It was probably over something stupid, right? When I was about 14 I fought with my parents at least twice a day, in addition to always asking them the question “Why?” I’ll tell you right now, no other question annoys your parents more than “Why?” Take my advice and don’t use that word. Don’t do this, either: When I first started fighting with my parents and my friends, I’d give ’em the silent treatment and not talk to them for days at a time. It was pretty childish, but I felt it got my point across. Looking back on it now, I see that most of our fights were just small potatoes. Not one fight I ever had with my parents was about anything that really meant anything.

Think back to the past couple of disagreements you’ve had with your parents and friends. It’s been over something small and stupid, right? Here’s the scenario: Something happens, and you feel as if you were treated unfairly. So (if you’re anything like me) you let loose with some stupid name-calling. Then you feel as if you’ve righted the wrong. But trust me, all that does is make things worse. The only real way to solve your problems is to look at the situation and ask yourself, “What would Jesus do?” Then talk to God about it and see what He says. I can tell you this much from personal experience— it’s soooo much easier to make peace with someone right away than it is to sit and stew for days!

Now, I realize that sometimes the problems you face aren’t small or stupid. Like when you’ve got the muscle mass of a licorice jelly bean—as I do—and you’re facing 12 members of the Blue Angels head-to-head. But with God’s help you can make peace with those you disagree with, just as we made peace with the Blue Angels on the river that day. Granted, our method of peacemaking might be slightly different from the one you should use. You see, once we were quite a distance from those flyboys, we waved, smiled, and hurled one more object at them: the carrot of peace. Because, as you know, I’ve always been one for peace.

This article originally appeared in the November 4, 2000, issue of Insight. For several years Dustin Jones wrote a column called “Good Sports,” and this was one of them. At that time he worked in the Public Relations Office at Loma Linda University in California. He’s now the manager for Marketing and Communications at Kalispell Regional Healthcare in Montana.


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