Note: The standard address, date, and addressee e-mail taglines have been eliminated and converted to dialogue format to streamline and enhance your reading pleasure. All last names of participants have been omitted to protect the innocent...
Princess Diana and the Shriners
Sent: Tuesday, September 9, 1997 9:22 AM
Mark: Brian, I don't know if you're back at work today or not (allowing for your flight back from England), but I was pleasantly surprised to see you in Princess Diana's funeral procession. I think that you did an excellent job in leading the Shriners' go-cart portion of the service. The precision and timing required to perform all of those weaving in-and-out tricks in those little cars is truly amazing and I am in awe of you. Only once did you run into the carriage containing the coffin. I don't know if you noticed, but when your team passed by the queen, she and the royal family bowed to you and your fellow drivers. And during Elton John's "Candle in the Wind," the sound of squealing tires doing doughnuts on that checkered marble floor of Westminster Abbey really added to the mood.
I am proud of you, Brian, and my hat.... no, my fez.... is off to you!
Brian: Thanks for your recognition, Mark. As you know, we the Shriners have always been proud of our lack of dignity.
Actually, we were in the funeral procession quite by accident since we were originally scheduled to attend the Small Engine Expo at the Dorchesterhampshire-on-the-Green Parade Grounds, which was cancelled due to the funeral. We were trying to make our way back to the hotel when Bucky Myers swerved his 1/17 exact scale replica '72 Chevy Nova to keep from running over the Queen Mum's dog 'Crumpet', and somehow we ended up behind the hearse. At that point, we decided to make a show of it, and in my own defense, I only hit the carriage when somebody threw a bouquet of poison ivy into my 1/17 scale replica Grand Prix.
I am proud to say I bruised 12 out of the 15 photographers shins I plowed into, and the Earl of Spenser gave me pat on the back and a 'bloody good show.'
I hated missing the engine expo, but all in all it was a good day under the sad circumstances. But then what are Shriners all about, if not that?
No, really, I'm asking, what are Shriners all about?
Mark: Leave it to Bucky "Wrong Way" Myers. That guy is one crazy sonuvagun and quite a character. I read in the papers that you made such an impression on the British public that they are pressuring Elton John to again rewrite his song as "Shriner in the Wind." I think that Diana would have enjoyed your driving antics. Well, maybe not... she's probably had her fill of fast, swerving cars (ouch). But who knows? Everybody loves the Shriners.
To answer your question "What are Shriners all about?", let's take a little trip back to ancient Egypt. C'mon ... follow me... watch your step...
The Shriners used to be known as the Shrinkers. They would make their own heads shrink and expand to the rhythm of a steel drum band in ancient Egyptian Kmart parking lots. After a while, Pharoah got sick of their stupid antics and banished them into the desert with nothing but a tall, red cuplike hat with a wide brim and a plastic milk jug. To remind them of their punishment, Pharoah also took the 'k' (for 'Kmart') out of 'Shrinkers', and they became known from then on as the Shriners. They wandered the desert for years, stopping camel caravans at red lights, asking for money and collecting it in their plastic milk jugs which they had ingeniously cut a slit into just for that reason.
Eventually they met up with an Egyptian circus where all of the performers were crippled children. The head Shriner, Willis, was so disturbed by the use of these hapless victims as entertainers for the whims of the wealthy circus-goers, that he raised his arms to the heavens and proclaimed "Great God in Heaven, why must the children suffer so? Grant me the flour... I mean power... to ease their pain. And... if you can work it in.... get us back the Kmart gig."
There arose a great thunder in the heavens and a mighty voice rumbled from the sky.... "I HAVE HEARD YOUR PLEA, WILSON"...."Uh, God...that's Willis".... "SHUT UP, LITTLE MAN!"...."Uh, OK, no problem"....."WHERE WAS I? OH YES, I HAVE HEARD YOUR PLEA AND HAVE DECIDED TO HELP YOU IN YOUR QUEST TO HEAL THE CHILDREN'S SICKNESS. GO FORTH FROM THIS DAY FORWARD AND COLLECT FUNDS AT TRAFFIC STOPS...." and Kmarts?"....YES, AND KMARTS... OPERATE A THIRD-RATE CIRCUS AND PRINT OUT A NEWSPAPER THAT PEOPLE CAN BUY FOR A DONATION AND THEN IMMEDIATELY THROW AWAY. THIS IS YOUR DESTINY AND YOUR MISSION, WESLEY! .....AND ONE MORE THING......APE SHALL NOT KILL APE!"
Then there was a great bolt of lightning and God sheared the wide rim of Willis the Shriner's hat off and the fez was born. Willis kept his promise to God and the Shriners have been at it since.
Now get back to work, Brian.
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