This last Fourth of July a group of us was supposed to go down to Russís new place to watch the fireworks. You might remember Russ from the Morpheus Company; he and his girl Stephanie have a place down in southeast Dallas now. The construction over by the POP got to be too much and they moved out of the old studio into a house.

Anyway, Russ called at about 2 in the afternoon to explain that Stephanie wasnít feeling up to having company and that we should just cancel any plans to go down there. Everyone told Russ that was okay, and I hope Stephanie is feeling better, and made other plans.

Well, it wasnít really that much of a plan. We just agreed to meet up with another couple friends at the SUPER JUMBO BUFFET, an all-you-can-eat joint on Park and Greenville (oddly enough, in the same building where Cris was working as a waiter when I lived in that area).

The SUPER JUMBO BUFFET is also right next to the Park Lane train station. Someone got the brilliant idea of taking the train downtown to watch the fireworks.

And apparently, everyone in Dallas had that idea as well.

The lines at the ticket machines didnít seam that long, and the crowd on the platform didnít seem that big, but train after train went whizzing past filled to the brim. The conductor (driver?) on two trains informed the people on the platform that the train was full and to just wait for the next train. That one was too crowded.

Iím talking Calcutta crowded.

We watched three trains go by before I decided that was bullshit. "Look, weíve got Day-Passes. That means we can ride the train all dayóin any direction. Iím taking the next northbound to the end of the line. Those donít seem to crowded."

So we hopped on the next northbound, took it up to the end of the line, and waited for the next southbound train. And that thing was empty. We had plenty of seats to chose from.

There was only one other group on the car with us at that stationóa family of five. There was Mom, Dad, two little girls that might have been four feet high if you stacked them right, and a goldfish in a carrying case. It was one of those plastic containers you usually see for mice or insects, but this one had a 25-cent goldfish swimming around in it.

I started joking with the father. "So the whole family came out for fireworks, huh?"

"They won it," he explained, gesturing to the girls. "I think the case is worth more than the fish."

It filled up pretty quicklyólong before the Park Lane station. Somewhere around Lovers Lane station, someone starting singing "We Are the World". Iím not sure what scared me more: that so many of us joined in or that we remembered the words.

Once downtown, we exited the train at the St. Paul station and hoofed it the rest of the way. We were moving almost as quickly as the train and we could smoke. It also gave me the opportunity to show people Thanksgiving Square and a couple other things you donít know about unless you go downtown.

After ten minutes of walking, people started whining. "Where are we going? Are we there yet?" I kept explaining we were going to the Triple-Underpass, and only two more blocks, and we can sit when we get there, and goddamn you people are whiney.

And I think there were more people at the Triple-Underpass that night then there were when Kennedy got shot. We spread out on the grass between Main and Commerce and waited for the fireworks to begin.

But that wasnít good enough. Even though the real show was going on in the Trinity River flood-plain, and even though it was fireworks and would be up there in the sky, someone decided that the Reunion tower was going to be in the way and we needed to get up on the grassy knoll. A determined ten-minute walk later and we were there.

And Bat realized heíd lost his phone.

Bat and Jamie went back to the lawn to look for it while Trey and Dart called him repeatedly on their phones. As a matter of fact, Treyís battery actually went out trying to help Bat find his phone. He heard someone pick up Batís phone right before his battery died. Five minutes later, Bat and Jamie came back. They had found it.

Then the fireworks started.

I read about the show in the Dallas Morning News the next day and they couldnít stop singing the praises of the Trinity-Fest and the fireworks and the well-behaved crowds and everything else. The Trinity-Fest organizers had set up metal detectors and face-recognition scanners at their entrances. I find it amusing that the reported numbers were 500,000 through the gates, but there were people downtown who didnít go through a metal detector and we didnít have any trouble at all. Thereís nothing like a large group of people to make the authorities nervous in these post-911 days.

It was a fantastic show. The finale almost made me cry.

It was 11:30 at that point and we didnít have much time to spare. The trains stop running at about 12:30 and if the crowds were anything like they were at Park Lane, we might just miss the last train.

I knew that Union Station was going to be a monstrosity and the Convention Center was the next stop south of Union so I had everyone double-time it over to the Convention Center. Everyone bitched during the walk because we walked past Union. "Why donít we just get on the next train north here?"

Trust me.

The Convention Center station was a little crowded, but not the same way Park Lane had been.

It was at this point someone suggested taking the next Blue-line up to Mockingbird and then swapping over to a Red-line. I said that was a stupid idea and we were going to wait for a Red-line train and take it all the way back to where we were parked. Swapping trains in the middle of the trip would be pointless and would cause more problems than it would solve.

So we waited for the next Red-line. We didnít get seats that time, but we did get ON the train. Which is better than what I can say for the folks at Union.

You would have thought the Pope was in town. They were packed 60-deep at Union and the Transit Police were only allowing families with small children and the very old on the train.

Standing on a crowded train is okay until you go through the Central tunnel. Between Pearl Station and Cityplace Station, the train can go some 80 miles an hour. It goes even faster between Cityplace and Mockingbird. And it tilts.

Everything I said about Mockingbird was true. We spent a little more time there than we should of because the people on the platform had to be told "You have to let people off the train before you can get on." People had to be told that. Damn. Thatís just embarrassing.

So we made it back to the car and the windows werenít broken out. We all took that as a good sign and went out to the Church. Why not? It was a Thursday.

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