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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: River (08/31/06)

TITLE: The Foggy Boggy Guru
By Philip Barnes


In the plains that stretch across the United States we don’t climb the highest mountain to find a sage monk to discover enlightenment. First, there are no mountains. There are hills and speed bumps, but no mountains. Secondly, there is an extremely short supply of sage monks. Sagebrush, yes. Sage monks, not so much. Finally, enlightenment is over eight letters long so it is unlikely that any of us would seek after it. We use to have the same problem with barbeques until we shortened it to BBQ, and now we enjoy a good rack of baby back ribs regularly.

Fortunately in Pottawatomie County there is a wise man, a guru of sorts, who sits on the bank of Foggy Boggy Creek. If you can find him, he will share with you words of wisdom. And though the way is tough and the journey hard I, on rare occasions, traveled to this man to seek his guidance.

August 24, 1965:

The summer had been hot and rain had been scarce. I was sweating as I approached the bank. The river was empty, the dirt cracked and dry. But for the first time I saw the old man who sat by the bank of the Foggy Boggy Creek.

“I am entering my senior year of high school and I do not know what to do when I am done.” There was a pause, a pregnant pause.

All right this pregnant pause was having quadruplets.

“Without rain from the heavens and runoff from the mountains the river has no water.”

I understood. Water from on high, higher education, was the key. So I went to college.

January 27, 1973

It was a particularly cold winter. Ice covered the ground and the trees. The river no longer flowed but was frozen solid. And there on the bank as always was the wise man of Pottawatomie County.

“Work has been tough. I haven’t been moving up the corporate ladder as quickly as I would like.”

“It is so cold you could walk on the river.”

I understood. I was wading through my workplace with all of its employees. I should make the climate such that I can walk over them.

May 3, 1984

I snagged a zipper on my parachute pants as I headed to the far bank of the Foggy Boggy Creek. And there was the man, once again sitting just as he had before. This time the river was flowing quickly and a large bovine was munching on the green grass.

“I am getting older and having a problem with my relationships.”

“In the spring when the water flows everything grows. When everything grows all kinds of birds and animals come to the river bank.”

I understood. If I looked successful and had a lot to show for my work then women would simply come to me. So I bought a sports car and a house in a fancy neighborhood.

April 24, 1996

It had been a rainy spring following a terrible winter. The ground was muddy as I followed that old path to the Foggy Boggy Creek. The snow was melting in the mountains and the rains had been hard. The creek was swelling and had crested the bank. But there on the bank with water up to his eyebrows was the man.

“I’ve married and have a family. I’ve made it to the top. What is next?”

“Glubb bloo gurgle gurgle glub.”

I understood. I took up scuba diving.

September 6, 2006

Today I return to the Foggy Boggy Creek for the first time in ten years. It is a beautiful day in late summer. The sky is blue and the air is fresh. I am taking my little grand daughter to Pottawatomie County to meet the man. He is there as always, much older than I remember. Next to him is a small child.

“Honey, look this is the wise man who challenged me to go to college, work hard, meet your grandmother, and learn to scuba dive.”

The old man turned to the young lad next to him, “Grandson, this is the selfish man I’ve been telling you about. I followed this path four times to find the wise man of Pottawatomie County and he is the man I saw each time. When I was thirsty he turned and walked away, when I was cold he watched me shiver, when I was threatened by a bull he saved himself, and when I was nearly drowned he simply waved.”

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This article has been read 984 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Kevin Kindrick09/07/06
This is a fun story with a pointed message. Where do our perceptions lie?

Thanks, and God bless,

Donna Haug09/07/06
LOL - I figured we were in for a chuckle starting with your title. Great laugh and terrific ending.
geoff anderson09/07/06
This is seriously good stuff. The humour is the gently self-deprecating kind that everybody loves. And the whole piece takes the form of a shaggy dog story, one of those jokes that has several parts, with repetitive sections in each part that link the parts as the tale canters to its conclusion. And the conclusion to these tales HAS to be a surprise, unexpected, for that's the whole point of the drawn-out verbal joke. If you guess the ending half way through, then the second half would be tedious. I knew obviously that somehow he was going to have to learn that he'd got all the lessons wrong, but I couldn't imagine how.
And boy, I really couldn't have guessed how! That was inspirational, that the other bloke had been looking for the guru as well.
It has the feel of an oft-told tale and I'm wondering if you've adapted a locally famous joke - which would be a perfectly legitimate thing to do, since such 'folk jokes' are not copyright. Indeed, I believe no jokes are copyright.
Whatever, it's a unique and hugely enjoyable offering. Thanks.
Sharlyn Guthrie09/07/06
Creatively entertaining! Great job!
Birdie Courtright09/08/06
Thanks for a great laugh! Very clever, imaginative and too funny! Great stuff!
Marilyn Schnepp 09/08/06
Simply delightful, entertaining and uplifting. A great read and a Super message. My only question throughout was: "Was it a creek or a river?"...never could figure that out; but immaterial when it comes to writing. Just GRRReat! Loved it!
david grant09/08/06
Ha! Great story. Good laugher. You may be up for a DAVEY for this one!

Creek or River? Depends upon if you swimming or drowning in it!
david grant09/08/06
Oh! One moooore thing. Change the first word in this piece to "On." You can be "on" a plain, but if you are "in" a plain you are underground.
Jan Ackerson 09/10/06
Absolute perfection. Nothing else to say--this is just the best.
Amy Michelle Wiley 09/10/06
Hahahaha! That was great. :-D
Kaylee Blake 09/11/06
Hehe! That tickled my funny bone! Great job.
Verna Cole Mitchell 09/11/06
It looks like you really achieved your goal for writing with this one!
Donna Powers 09/11/06
A very good message, told in an amusing and entertaining way! I really enjoyed this! Thanks for sharing it
Jacqueline Zerres09/12/06
What a great story. Loved the progression. Great ending, too!
Betty Castleberry09/13/06
Oh, I like this one! The light humor is engaging, and it has a nice message, too. Good job!
Joanne Sher 09/13/06
I enjoyed the lightheartedness of this, and especially the wisdom at the end. Very clever!!
Rita Garcia09/13/06
Enjoyed reading this wonderful and entaining story! Perfect in every way!
Jan Ross09/14/06
Congratulations on your "Third Place" win! I really think this was one of my most favorite this week! So creative! God bless you as you continue to grow in your gifts and talents! Very, very well done!
Deborah Porter 09/14/06
Philip, first of all, congratulations on your win this week. It was well deserved. You are not only an excellent writer, but you also pick the best titles.

Would you please send me a private message (with your email address) as soon as possible, as I would like to ask you something about possibly helping with the Challenge in the next quarter. If you could contact me, I would really appreciate it.

With love, Deb (Challenge Coordinator and Editor, FaithWriters' Magazine)
william price09/15/06
Congratulations Philip!
Excellent stuff here. Love the voice. God bless.