RIt was the morning of November 5th, and I was surrounded by a group of people helping to plan our Guy Fawkes Day bonfire party. I was reminded to “Remember, remember” for the last week or so, but I had somehow forgotten to remember. The same can be said for my friend Christian. He hadn't forgotten about the day or its significance, but he had forgotten to create the necessary “party favor” he was commissioned to create. As Christian walked in and saw us all sitting around a bar table, he realized this sad fact and said, “Oh shit, I forgot to make my effigy again.”
I imagined what those around us might have been thinking. You see, Guy Fawkes Day is not a holiday most Americans celebrate, or are generally even aware of its existence. Guy Fawkes was a conspirator in the not-so-great Gunpowder Plot that fizzled and failed. The intended target of the plot was the British parliament building and King James himself. They were foiled before they could even ignite any of the 36 barrels of gunpowder they had stashed in the cellar directly under the House of Lords that day. Guy was caught red-handed during the early hours of November 5th, 1605. He was quickly imprisoned, tortured and executed for his role in the thwarted plan to destroy Parliament and the anti-Catholic British Monarchy of the early 17th Century. The British people celebrated the safety of the King by lighting bonfires and burning effigies of Guy Fawkes. Each subsequent year on November 5th, they repeat that celebration. Unfortunately for many Americans, this is not common knowledge.
Unfortunately for Christian, he forgot to make the Guy Fawkes effigy he had promised us he would. He went on to explain that he could still make his deadline of 9:00 pm that night if we still needed one. I replied by saying, “Yes, we still need one. It isn't like we could go to Wal-Mart and buy a Guy Fawkes effigy or even drive to Effigies, Effigies, Effigies in Tampa. That's too far, and they'll probably be sold out anyway.”
Again, I imagined what those around us would think of our conversation. What would they conjure up in their minds without the knowldege of the importance of the day, its flammable action figures or the understanding that there isn't a store in Tampa that only sells effigies and effigy accoutrements?
Without delay or any cognizance of his surroundings, Christian went on to list the things he already had on hand to build his “Little Guy.” He said, “Okay, I already have the beeswax, twine and ratty clothes to put on this guy before we throw him in the fire. Do I need to bring a shovel or anything else, or do you have that covered?”
Now, I was quite sure that the people around us thought we were plotting something rather sinister. We had gone from sounding like a bunch of worldly gentlemen gearing up for a night of bonfire and revelry to a group of conspirators plotting a murder and burial of some dude named Guy. This could get interesting.
I imagined Christian's house being ransacked by the police and him having to explain every odd item in his closet and tool shed. The fertilizer he had would most certainly be sitting next to a can of bio-diesel fuel. They would most certainly not appreciate the immaculate lawn created by the fertilizer or the eco-friendly bio-diesel car he drove. No, they would think back to good 'ol Timmy McVeigh and arrest him for plotting to make a bomb. The 10 bags of lye he had in his closet would not be tied back to the fledgling homemade scented soap business he was trying to get off the ground. No, they would just assume he was a mass-murdering psychopath and cuff him to the radiator while they searched his crawlspace. They most certainly wouldn't overlook his collection of straight razors and hatchets, with which he practiced juggling in an attempt to make it big on America's Got Talent or X Factor. No, they would just assume that was his serial killer starter kit. Let's not even get started on Christian's garage full of tarps and jumbo commercial grade garbage bags. I haven't asked him what those are for yet, but I'm sure he just does a lot of gardening or something. I'll be willing to bet the investigators wouldn't give him the benefit of the doubt though.
Fortunately for Christian and the party, those people around us were too busy in their own conversations to be listening in on ours. He was able to escape certain imprisonment and we were greeted later that evening with an excellent effigy of Guy Fawkes with which we could toss into the flames of the fire pit. We couldn't help but marvel at the glorious way that it quickly went from a bunch of beeswax, twine and tattered clothes to a red and yellow mess of melting pseudo flesh and bone as it was set ablaze in my back yard. We all exclaimed “Fuck you Guy!” as Christian tossed it toward the flaring embers, and I looked across just in time to see his expression as he did it. Christian was very proud of his last minute effigy, and the perma-smile that was smeared across his face is something that will stay with me always.
Actually, it was kind of creepy now that I think back on it. But then again, he is Welsh, and you never know what you're going to get when you come across a Welshman. At least he isn't one of those guys who adds “ladies” to end of all his female aimed comments. Now those are some creepy fuckers. I think the only thing that could have sealed the deal on me sending an anonymous letter to the police would be just that. I can hear him asking for a date to the next bonfire night on Guy Fawkes Day, “Remember the 5th, ladies.” Ugh, arrest that man!