We always visit the 20th Maine memorial on Little Round Top. We’re part of the Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain adoration group, so much so that Diamondqueen named her first born Joshua. When Diamondqueen seemed so insistent about visiting the 2oth Maine monument, I didn’t pay that much attention.
We were trying to outrun the gangs of students we’d seen climbing on and off buses all over the battlefield, so we went to the far side of Little Round Top as soon as we parked. I noticed a new path that hadn’t been there on my last visit to Gettysburg. It wound along a forested section thick with redbuds, so I just kept walking, snapping pictures as I went. The marker for the left side of the 20th Maine’s lines and the monument itself were above me. I followed the path all the way down, then started climbing a short slope to the monument.
I saw Diamondqueen smirking down at me, but there’s nothing unusual about that. She frequently finds reasons to smirk down at me, even when she’s not high up on a boulder. As I climbed I glanced at that side of the monument and noticed some weird figure sitting there. I thought, “What kind of freaky-ass doll did someone leave in tribute to Chamberlain?” Then I looked at that ugly little face with the buck teeth and freckles and realized what had happened.
I wrote in this post how my family loves to torture me by giving me Annalee figures because they know the little buggers creep me out and I hate them. I should have known one of those nasty little creeps would wind up in my birthday celebration somehow. The thing is, the trip is supposed to be my gift. There aren’t supposed to be additional gifts, so I’m never expecting anything. Yesterday when we returned to the van from lunch at Cracker Barrel, I found a package on my seat. It was a two-volume CD compilation of all the songs that have been hits on my birthday since 1954 that Shannon put together herself. (I admit I’m unfamiliar with a lot of songs dating from the 1990s and later. I’ve simply stopped listening to pop music radio. However, I do recognize “Happy” because I saw it performed on the Academy Awards. Prior to the ’90s, there were a lot of songs I really like; and I appreciate having even the ones I’m less enthusiastic about.)
I guess I’m just dense, but I had no inkling another “gift” was about to appear today. What a way to receive it. My lower jaw must have been dragging the ground in astonishment as I pulled myself up over the last few rocks and stared at the gremlin. It’s a pugnacious character in a bunny suit holding a spray of flowers. Diamondqueen added a handwritten placard reading “You’re 60.” Diamondqueen was gratified by my look of utter horror and disgust. To make matters worse, I had to carry that thing all over Little Round Top. People noticed, too. I think they thought maybe I was mentally handicapped or something, clinging to that butt-ugly doll and a bottle of water as I roamed among the statues and monuments.
The final humiliation came when I climbed into the van. I started to put the Annalee doll on the dashboard when I noticed the “You’re 60” sign was gone. I gave a cry and leaped out of the van, tearing back up the path to retrace my steps. I examined every inch across Little Round Top, scowling with my eyes glued to the ground. The wind was high up there, so I imagined the small piece of paper flying away. Or worse, one of the students in those rowdy gangs found it and would do something unspeakable with it.
Exhausted and discouraged, I was returning to the van when I saw Diamondqueen waving at me. It turned out the card had fallen on the floor of the van. I wouldn’t have had to roam all over, climbing back over rocks, if I’d thought of that in the first place. Just add it to the experience of being repulsed by another Annalee “gift.”