T. Fielder Valone
I don’t really enjoy “tooting my own horn,” but I do enjoy writing and consequently this piece will likely run several sentences longer than necessary… But let’s see if I can make this entertaining. Perhaps I can manage to shed light on some of the more quirky “dynamics” of life as a “GOPC kid”…
Growing-up in the GOPC “family” often bestowed upon me the distinct displeasure of enduring awkward situations with both my friends and, more often, their parents. By the time I was seven years old, I had practically memorized the following spiel: “Yes, I go camping — a lot. No, I don’t get personalized discounts (really? Did you just ask a seven year old about money???). And no, I can’t help you get a discount, either…”
But life in the GOPC community also tended to be a fun and spontaneous affair. No lazy weekends for me — every Friday, we’d pile into Pop’s rusty jalopy bound for some remote corner of the state, only to return Monday morning with an assortment of bee stings, nicks, bruises and bumps, and a hell of a lot of great storytelling material (as Dad has told me, time and again, in that Southern bass-tenor of his, “son, you have been blessed with a gift for lying.” To which Mom always interjects in a voice so thick with irony it might just clog your arteries: “with no help from your Father, of course…”). Growing up, the Good Lord always seemed to relish transforming our little family outings into harrowing odysseys filled with driving rainstorms, swarms of angry yellow jackets and even the occasional masked gunman (but that’s another story for another day!). By the time I hit puberty, my conception of God was more akin to that of Zeus: a powerful, bearded figure (appropriately “ripped” and naked, of course) sprawled across a heap of billowing clouds, casually hurling bolts of lightning my way. *For the record, I blame my dance moves — an amalgamation of flailing limbs and off-beat snapping — on this period of my life.* When I first encountered Jonathan Edwards’ eighteenth century sermon “sinners in the hands of an angry God,” I felt a strange sense of connection to the man’s words (especially that bit about God suspending us over the pit of hell, “much as one hold a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire”…) Now, I think I know why.
Fielder & Sam Valone – circa 1998
The majority of my time today is spent indoors studying. My evenings are rarely spent under the heavens – no, the majority of my nightlife consists of squinting at computer screens, bleary-eyed, well into the early morning hours. Life as a student of History at the University of North Carolina has certainly taken a toll on my time spent in the great outdoors. Just toss a ball in my direction – any sized ball will do – and my total lack of coordination or athleticism becomes mercilessly apparent.
But even now, my “wild side” occasionally resurfaces. Afternoon thunderstorms still possess a strangely transformative power over me (some of my friends have described such moments as “that rare opportunity to glimpse into the soul of a primordial being”). And Jonathan Edwards’ sermon? Oh, my…