Archive for June, 2008

Elizabeth Turns Off the Lightning

June 9, 2008

This is not my usual post. My five-year old daughter, Elizabeth, came into our bedroom the other night during a lightning storm and said, “Daddy, please turn off the lightning. It’s keeping me awake.” So I decided to help her turn it off. This is what happened.  

 

Elizabeth Turns Off the Lightning

By

Mark Littleton

   A storm raged outside Elizabeth’s window. Lightning flashed. Thunder boomed. Elizabeth cried from her bed, “Daddy, the lightning! Turn off the lightning and thunder!” 

   Daddy stepped into her room. “What’s the matter, Elizabeth?”

   She pulled the sheet up to her nose with her wide eyes bugging out at him. “I can’t sleep. The lightning and thunder scare me. Please turn them off.” 

   Daddy sighed. “To do that, we have to go to the Lightning Switch. We can go in my rocketship, if you want.” 

   “A rocketship? I didn’t know you had one of them.” The sheets came down to her mouth. “It’ll take us there?”

   “Yes.”

   The sheet came down to her chin. “Will we go to the moon?”

   “Almost.” 

   “Okay.” Elizabeth jumped out of bed, pulled on her snow boots, her mermaid dress, and her cowboy hat.

   Daddy took her downstairs. He grabbed some bananas and they climbed into his minivan.

   “How come you have bananas?” Elizabeth asked.

   “You’ll see. Hold on.” 

   The minivan shot up into the air. High, high above the houses, and then the city. Soon, they were in outer space.

   “Look at the moon, Daddy!” Elizabeth cried. “It’s smiling.”

   “It’s happy we’re coming near to say hello.” 

   “Hello, Moon,” Elizabeth said and waved. She looked out the back window. “Daddy, is that blue round thing earth?” 

   “Right.”

   Elizabeth waved again. “Goodbye, earth.”   

   Something hit the windshield.

   “What was that?” Elizabeth cried.

   “Space bugs,” Daddy said.

   Lightning flashed all around.  Bugs splatted. Daddy turned on the wipers and shot some water on the windshield.

   Suddenly, a monkey grabbed the window. “What’s that?” she cried. 

   “A Moon Monkey,” Daddy said. “Give it a banana!”

   Elizabeth handed the Moon Monkey a banana. It smiled and ate.

   Lightning burst all around them. The thunder roared. Elizabeth held her ears.   Soon the monkeys surrounded the van. Elizabeth gave them all bananas.  

   Bugs struck. Moon Monkeys streaked after them eating bananas. Meteors crashed against the sides of the van, leaving bit dents. Up ahead, Elizabeth saw a giant switch. “Is that it?”

   “You’ll have to open your window to switch it off.” 

   The lightning blasted on the top of the van. On the sides. Everywhere. 

   Trembling, Elizabeth let down the window. Her cowboy hat almost blew off, but she pushed it on tighter.

   Moon Monkeys chattered. Bugs zoomed around her. She reached out.

   “It’s too far away, Daddy.” 

   He drove closer. 

   Elizabeth got her hand on the switch. She pulled.

   It wouldn’t budge.

   A Moon Monkey helped her.

   Together, they pulled it down.

   Instantly, the wind kicked up. The lightning crackled even more fiercely. Rain pelted the side of the car.

   “You pushed the switch the wrong way!” Daddy cried. He veered the van around in a circle. They came back to the switch. One of the Moon Monkeys jumped onto the switch and switched it down another notch.

   The wrong way again! Great hailstones clattered against the van. Tornadoes whirled about. Winds tore at Elizabeth’s hat.

   “What do we do?” she cried.

   “Here,” Daddy said, handing her a hammer. “You’ll have to whack that switch back the other way.” 

   Elizabeth took the hammer. She opened her window as Daddy sped toward the Switch. Elizabeth leaned out with the hammer in her hand.

   “You’ll have to stand on the roof,” Daddy cried.

   “I’m afraid!” 

   “You can do it!”

   Elizabeth took a deep breath. Then she climbed out the window. They soared closer to the Lightning Switch.

   Closer. Closer. 

   Elizabeth leaned way over. The switch was just yards away. She raised the hammer. Her cowboy hat stayed in place. And . . .

   She swung at the Switch. Bang!

   Nothing happened.

   Bang! Again.

   Nothing.

   “Help, Moon Monkeys,” Elizabeth shouted. “I have more bananas.” 

   All the monkeys jumped on the switch. Bam! Bam! Bam!

   Everything went black.

   The lightning stopped. Elizabeth swung into the window. “Whew!” she said.

   “You did it!” Daddy said and they smacked hands.

   They zoomed back to earth. 

   Daddy tucked Elizabeth in. “Now you can sleep,” he said.

   “Until next time,” Elizabeth said. “But now we know what to do.” 

   Daddy nodded.

   Elizabeth looked up at the moon. “Goodbye, Moon,” she whispered. “Hello, earth.” 

   Daddy left.

   “Okay, you can come out now!” Elizabeth said.

   All the Moon Monkeys jumped onto her bed. Then they all fell asleep and dreamed about bananas, lightning, and switches. 

 

27 Dresses and The Great Story

June 1, 2008

   My wife and I watched “27 Dresses” the other night. As usual, several times during the movie I was moved to tears. Afterwards, my wife asked me what I liked so much about this movie in particular, and this genre of movies – romantic comedies – even more in particular.

   I had to think about it. I’ve seen a lot of RCs over the years, from “Pretty Woman” to “Working Girl” to “Must Love Dogs” to “Music and Lyrics.” In fact, if there’s one out there that I haven’t seen, sometimes many times, it’s probably because everyone on earth told me it was a dud. If only one person out of a thousand, said, “Yeah, I liked it,” I’m there.

   So how to answer my wife? She suggested, “Is it the pretty girls with big you know whats – is that it? Them wiggling around and hanging out all over?”

   I laughed. “Not really. I have you for all those things.”

   That made her smile. But then I said, “You know, I think it has something to do with seeing a girl triumph in the end, get the man, win, succeed, all that.  I think women have been so beaten down by the world that it’s good to see one of them win, at least on the screen.” 

   She scoffed. “But you know nothing about real women, how we think, how we feel inside. Why is it that you love watching these women so much in contrast to reality?”
   Was I that much of a dolt? Sheesh, I’m only a guy.

   Yet, it was a good question and I said, after much thought, “I think it’s kind of that on the screen you have a simple structure. Men can ‘get’ the woman in a way that doesn’t happen in real life. You know probably within the first few minutes of the film what she really wants, what she’s going after, what she’s all about. There’s no guessing. There’s no looking at her face and trying to figure out if she’s angry, or frustrated, or totally in love, or what. You know by the way the movie unfolds everything she’s thinking and feeling. And I think some men like that. Like me. For once, we feel like we understand and even know this person. In contrast to most of our encounters with women in real life.” 

   She had to think about that. But I had more. “I think there’s a bigger explanation, though.” 

   She gave me those deep, green, mysterious eyes for a second. “Hit me with it.” 

   “Well, I think human history is the Great Story of all great stories. God is writing this incredible story with twists, turns, knock-downs, horrible sins, and so on. But God has shown us in the Bible that there’s a happy ending. That the good guys – and girls – win in the end. That evil does not triumph. See, when directors try to do movies that are ambiguous, or where evil wins in the end, or where no one wins, they usually fail. We as people intrinsically want to see good triumph. We want to see the good people win. We like getting there, too. Seeing them down at the bottom with nowhere to look but up. We like to see them pounded down a little. But in the end, we want a win.” 

   She nodded and sank down on the bed. “I guess it makes some sense.” 

   “Of course it does. I always make ‘some’ sense. It’s the archetypical story. It’s why so many stories are like that. Person has a problem. The problem gets worse. He or she can’t solve it on their own. People reach out to them. They join forces. At some point, it looks so bleak, you think there’s no way. Then they pull the rabbit out of the hat, and everything is perfect. For the last few seconds of the story, anyway.” 

   She laughed. “So what you want is simple women you can understand, and a happily ever after ending, and you’re happy?” 

   “Yeah, and usually crying too.” 

   “Well, it’s a pretty standard Hollywood formula. Books, novels, too, as you said. The archetype. I guess God has built that desire, conviction, whatever you want to call it, into us. And we react to anything not like that with rejection and sometimes even anger. I get that. I think really almost everything relies on that principle at some point. Except people like Oliver Stone and the weirdo movie directors and writers who insist on telling us the world is a horrible place, there’s no good, and we all lose in the end.” 

   “Right.”