Saturday, October 24, 2009

Thor, God Of "Gotta Do This Again"

Whenever one mentions the old Norse/ Germanic pantheon, the god who immediately comes to mind is Thor. Thor is often thought to represent brute force, blind rage and raw machismo, but I've come to find out that his energy is actually far more complex than that. Thor served as both the protector of the common man and protector of the gods alike. Thor was the lynch pin of the Norse pantheon, and when his energy manifests itself to us here on Midgard we are always very grateful for it.

Armed with an unbreakable, yet very short handled magic hammer known as "Mjolnir", Thor was the bane of the Jotuns or "frost giants". The Jotuns represented the forces of chaos and destruction and were the arch nemeses of the gods. The Jotuns were constantly trying to make trouble for the gods, as they were very jealous of the beauty and order that the gods had in their home of Asgard. The Jotuns' meddlesome ways would finally culminate in the battle known as Ragnarok, which was instigated by a Jotun with godlike powers named Loki. Thor's role in Ragnarok was crucial, as he was the only god strong enough to kill Loki's son, a giant serpent known as Jormungund.

Thor can be thought of as the bouncer at the club or the vigilant policeman. Not the over testosteroned bouncer with an attitude problem or the crooked cop, but the bouncer who removes the drunk trouble maker quickly so the rest of the bar patrons can keep having a good time. He's not the cop who spends his time writing minor traffic tickets and harassing skateboarders, he's the cop who busts the real criminals instead. In essence, Thor is the tough guy with the really big heart.

Whenever you see people performing Thor- like deeds you are often relieved and left with a very positive impression. One of the finest Thor moments I can recall is when my friend Frank removed a very meddlesome young man from a punk rock gig back in 1992. This gig was held in a very small venue, and had a mixed bill and crowd who were all very hostile towards each other. The crowd consisted of equal parts skinheads and straight edge kids, with a smattering of punk rockers and skaters thrown in. Frank and I were firmly in the last category (skaters) and were two of the few people who were there because we actually just wanted to see the bands and have fun.

Frank and his girlfriend were avid t shirt printers and record distributors, so at most local gigs they had a veritable punk rock flea market set up in the back. Most kids really liked that, but at this particular gig they weren't selling much merchandise. Most of the kids were there to stage dive and mosh, so record and shirt sales were at a minimum. The place was really cramped too, so the record table was a little too close to the stage and dancefloor to be able to make any sales while the bands were playing and the kids were dancing. One person who quickly took advantage of this chaotic situation was a local mohicaned "drunk punk" named Wacky.

Wacky was an infamous local troublemaker who was known for starting fights, exposing himself to people, and generally being an intoxicated idiot any time he went out into public. Later on we would come to find out that he was actually a spoiled little rich boy from Bristol RI, but at the time we didn't really know anything about him. All we knew is that we hated him for being an obnoxious douchebag, and on this particular evening he seemed extra revved up to antagonize people. Add to that, he was palling around with all the skinheads, which made us a bit hesitant to confront him on his idiotic behavior.

For some reason, Wacky targeted Frank's record table and kept knocking his record boxes over. At first he tried to make it look like an accident that happened due to the moshers migrating a bit too far away from the band stage, but by the third time he did it it was obvious that he was doing it on purpose. Add to that the fact that he had a total smart assed grin on his face every time he knocked Frank's records over, and his newly found skinhead buddies kept cheering him on every time he did.

After Wacky's third attempt at annihilating Frank's merchandise, Frank turned to me and said "Dude, the next time he does that something's going to happen." Frank was seriously one of the most blase people I knew, so when he said this to me in a completely un- emotional, monotone way, it was hard for me to take him seriously. Add to that Frank was one of the last people I would ever expect to "do something" to Wacky or anyone else, as he was pretty much a pacifist. I kind of half expected Frank to not make good on his word, but when Wacky had his fourth "accident" at Frank's table, Frank uttered these words which I will forever associate as the epitome of Thor.

"Gotta do this again..."

Frank walked over to Wacky in a way that was completely nonchalant and unthreatening. I heard him say to Wacky "Dude, that wasn't cool" and then saw him put his hands on Wacky's shoulders. Before Wacky could even say anything, Frank's right foot teed off on Wacky's balls with enough force to send his testicles straight to Mars. Wacky immediately crumbled into a sobbing, teary eyed, red faced heap, and his skinhead buddies all ran over to him to pick him up and drag him out of the venue.

Fearing immediate chrome- domed retribution, I clicked open my knife and grabbed my pepper spray. When the skins came back in though, they were all handshakes and smiles for Frank, claiming that Wacky was annoying them as well, and that Wacky would most assuredly not be making an encore appearance at this gig. This was also the last time any of us ever saw Wacky, as he seemed to drop off the face of the earth (or at least drop out of the local punk rock scene). We later found out that he "grew out of" his punk rock phase and now owns a yaught. Go figure.

Another fine Thor moment happened one morning when I was getting off the highway to go to work. For some strange reason traffic was backed up quite a bit more than usual, and I noticed some commotion up ahead. This off ramp was a popular spot for a couple of panhandlers, but they were usually pretty harmless.

This morning though, there was a new panhandler whom I'd never seen before. He was a lot younger than the regular panhandlers and appeared to have a very surly disposition. He was also clearly wigged out on some kind of alcohol and or drugs, as his demeanor was quite erratic and threatening. I immediately sensed that there was some trouble about to happen, so I got my pepper spray and cell phone ready.

Since the off ramp traffic was stopped at a red light, the panhandler was approaching each car in the line and knocking on their passenger side window. When the driver wouldn't roll their window down and give Mr. Meth any money, he either spit at their car or start punching their window. I was about the tenth car back, and he was on car number three when I noticed most of the other commuters taking out their cellphones and dialing frantically. I was pretty much ready to blast him with my pepper spray once he got to my vehicle, when all of a sudden a police cruiser rolled up on the street that the off ramp emptied onto.

A cop jumped out of the cruiser at lightning speed, opened the cruiser's back door and started quickly walking over to the panhandler (who at this time had advanced another three or four cars closer to me). Without even missing a beat, the cop walked over, grabbed the panhandler by the back of the neck and started pushing him to the police cruiser. He ducked the pan handler's head, shoved him into the back of the cruiser, jumped back in the driver's seat and sped off. This took the cop all of about 40 seconds to do, and the entire ordeal on the off ramp only added an additional four or five minutes to my morning commute, tops.

Actions such as Frank's and the cop's completely illustrate the power of Thor. He's there when you need that extra bit of strength, energy or enthusiasm when you're faced with a challenge or conflict. Thor isn't just there to help you beat up drunk guys with spiky leather jackets or haul off unruly transients either. Are you trying to move a refrigerator up to the second floor? Yell "Hail Thor!" and see what happens. My guess is that you'll have that damn thing up the stairs in no time. Do you have a particularly stubborn tree stump you're trying to remove? Yell "Hail Thor!" and you'll get that sucker out with ease. Trying to reach the summit of the mountain? Trying to get that spaghetti sauce perfect? Trying to meet a seemingly impossible deadline? Can't find that box of precious family heirlooms in your overcrowded attic? Thor can assist you in all of these endeavors.

And luckily, Thor was with me just last week as I was traveling down highway 95. I'd missed my exit and had to backtrack a bit when two cars passed me on the highway. They were both going well over 80 mph and weaving in and out of traffic erratically. They were either drunk, racing each other or having some sort of road rage episode, but once they passed me my reptile brain immediately kicked in. Sensing impending doom, I started to pump my brakes, as it was a bit rainy out.

It's a good thing I was paying attention too, as a few hundred feet ahead of me one of the cars lost control. I saw this and moved over into the slow lane, but the car was literally spinning 360 degrees right in the middle of the highway and blocking all three lanes of traffic! Luckily there were no other vehicles up ahead, but I was fast approaching, as was an 18 wheeler right behind me. I thought to myself "If this person doesn't regain control and get their car and get out of the middle of the highway, I may hit them, and the 18 wheeler will definitely hit them, and annihilate me as well!"

Well, just as I was about 100 feet away from the car, the driver managed to get over to the side of the highway. The 18 wheeler and I passed them unscathed, but not without yours truly hysterically screaming "HAIIILLLL THORRRR!!!!" the entire time. The irony was that earlier in the evening I had actually hailed Thor at a heathen drinking ritual known as sumble. I had never hailed Thor at sumble before, but that night it seemed strangely appropriate for some reason. I'm really glad he listened.

Thor's energy is swift, efficient, hard working and righteous. Frank couldn't have said it better, as many times in the lore, Thor was the god who rolled up his sleeves and took care of business, again, and again and again. Many hardworking heathens of today are well known for being Thorsmen, as we are not much for mysticism. Sure, us heathens have magic and mythology just like every other religion, but heathens like to be doers rather than talkers. We're not afraid to use mundane solutions to solve problems, and that's what Thor is all about. Swift, simple solutions for what appear to be complex problems.

In fact, an Icelandic gentlemen I met recently actually said "Even though Iceland is a Christian country, whenever we get in trouble we hail Odin and Thor, because we know Jesus won't do anything for you when you need him." I found this highly amusing, but also indicative of Thor's popularity, even long after the indigenous heathen faith of Northern Europe has supposedly died.

While other religious types might pray for you to have a successful moving day, the heathen horde will show up to one of their folks' house at 6 am with an army of pickup trucks, hand trucks and boxes. It's funny that Frank is to this day an avowed atheist, as he once coined yet another phrase that I like to associate with Thor. This famous Frank witticism is "talkers talk and doers do" and I have added this to my repertoire as well. Nothing could be more true, as talk minus action equals nothing, and with Thor on your side, you can add yet another saying, this one being "It's getting done, and it's getting done NOW!" (That's a Badger original by the way...)

So to recap, we can sum up Thor in three statements:

"Gotta do this again!"
"Talkers talk and doers do", and
"It's getting done, and it's getting done NOW!"


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