Justin Stone's creekbed

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Location: missouri, el paso

The Anterior Insula and Hwy W

Monday, September 25, 2006

I've Come To Look For America


"Try This On For Size"
Um . . . do I have to?


In certain sections of the United States, tradition holds that when adolescents reach primary adulthood--for boys this is called "Mandom", for girls "Woman Season"--they undergo a ritual called "Crucifixion". This ritual is traditionally held in a public setting, be it in a town square or nearby field, and it is not uncommon to find nearly every able citizen in attendance, as the ritual often serves as a valuable social function, a place to catch up with friends and neighbors, get away from the day to day grind for an evening. During the convivial mixing part of the gathering the strapping young folks who are "Set for a Cross" stand silently on a stage in front of the townspeople, on full display, such that the community is able to give them "Full and Decent Regard". It is expected during this period that the young ones are to "Gird Themselves For That Which Is Theirs To Carry".

Once the ceremony proper begins, the "Upright Adult Men" of the community carry heavy wooden crosses onto the stage. The crosses are typically made up of Oak beams, and weigh between 2O pounds (for the women) and 30 pounds (for the men). In order then from tallest to shortest, the young men and women are laid across the wooden crosses and--starting with the right hand and then the left--they are carefully hammered onto the cross horizontal beam with heavy iron spikes through their palms. The young adults are then encouraged with cries of support from the community and strenuous emotional prodding from the "Upright Adult Men" to "Get Then To Your Feet", and slowly but surely they work their way into a standing position, arms splayed to the side, so that the Cross is balanced onto their back and held aloft by the pierced hands. This is generally an awkward period, during which some folks in the audience will refill their drinks, grab a snack, use the restroom, etcetera. Eventually, all the young adults are on their feet (assisted, if necessary) and then encouraged to "Dance" with another, or, carefully circle one another while bouncing foot to foot, very careful not to bump cross beams because not only is this incredibly painful, but "To Touch or Be Touched" is said to negate the experience. The sight of all these burgeoning "Heroes" doing the "Heavy Two Step" is a very happy one for the townsfolk. There are reports of viewers experiencing ecstatic states. People sing, chant, sway, and the communal vigor is caught up in the "Ones Who Bear" on stage and their dance becomes increasingly frenetic, freewheeling, until they are running in circles, arms spread like wings nailed to a heavy wooden burden. Eventually everyone "Gets Plum Tuckered Out" and the festivities come to a close. Those now possessed either of "Mandom" or "Woman Season" return home with their respective families for rest and "Strength Training," as they are to carry these crosses on their backside for the next 30 days. It is theorized that this specific time period was previously tied to the cycles of the moon, but such an idea in this day and age is considered by these people "Cockamamie". So, it is 30 days, 30 nights of "Crucifixion," during which the "Fresh Adults" are given reprieve from chores and school work, but are nonetheless required to "Concentrate On The Pain".

It is said that after experiencing this event, one never fully loses the sensation of carrying that 30 pound oak cross on his or her back. It is said that this is why adults in these parts of the country walk in greater than average numbers with limps, leans, or generally hunched over. Often you will see these adults compensating for the imagined weight on their backs by developing a heavily rounded middle section, or "Balance Belly". But the spiritual benefits of this way of life are overwhelmingly endorsed by its practitioners and continue to be passed from generation to generation. They say that the "Crucifixion" teaches them like nothing else could to "Hold It All In Tightly" and to "Walk Staunchly".