As most of the faithful know, I avoid news, politics or any other subject whose very nature inspires contention amongst people with differing viewpoints. I have found, over the years and in often painful fashion, that it is by contention with the well-informed that my ignorance becomes most apparent. It has been said more than once (someone said it before and I’m repeating it now) that a writer should stick with what he knows. Well, I know me, and like most self-serving bloggers, that’s what (who) I tend to write about. Unfortunately, that particular reservoir is decidedly shallow, and what it does contain is very slow-moving, almost stagnant. Lately, when I drop my bucket into this “well” to draw from it yet again, it contains mostly algae, mosquito larvae and tadpoles rather than thirst-quenching substance. Perhaps you’ve noticed.
Well, too bad. Unless I write from the heart (that “well” is full of ashes; dead, thorny vines; coal-black ravens and black widow spiders), you’re getting the same meaningless tripe I usually dish out. We’re in the school cafeteria; you, the student, offer your tray hopefully to me, the warted, obese, hair-netted Bulgarian food service woman. I plop an unrecognizable, pungent glob of ish on your plate. You stare at it with a mixture of horror and revulsion on your face.
“What is this crap?”
“Light-Hodded Huma. You eat. Is Good for you.”
Since I wrote and posted Ten Times I Nearly Died in February, I’ve recalled several other near-death by accident and/or embarrassment incidents that happened in my increasingly ample life. Because I’m running out of ideas and, like most bloggers, am desperate for you to find me more interesting than I really am, I present to you now The Other Ten Times I Nearly Died, in no particular order: (If you hold your nose while you read it, it tastes
less worse much better).
1) My father and I went to San Carlos, Mexico in the summer of 1975 for a beach vacation. Where most people liked to frolic in the surf, dad liked to swim far offshore and tread water. Somehow, he convinced me to join him. As we bobbed in the water perhaps a quarter-mile from shore, something bumped me in the legs, hard enough to tilt my body in the direction of the impact. It could have been a dolphin, a seal, or perhaps a large sea turtle. No matter; I had seen the film Jaws the month before. The wake from my olympic-qualifying swim to safety hit Japan several hours later and swamped several small fishing vessels. As I swam, I actually hoped the monster would find my plump father a more attractive meal; after all, it was his fault we were out there.
2) On a summer’s day in 1974 I had just finished warming up for a baseball game. As I sat on the first row of bleachers, one of my teammates made a wild throw from left field that caught me in the corner of my jaw, just below the ear. Luckily, though I had been knocked unconscious, these were the days before concussions. Even luckier, my jaw was not broken. I couldn’t eat solid food for almost a week. (This would be a mortal injury if it happened to me today).
3) When I was seven, my family visited a public pool in southern Spain. The pool was enormous, the largest I have ever seen, and was jammed with literally thousands of people. I decided to swim underwater to the pool’s end. Though I made it, I was completely out of air when I reached the edge; my access to life-giving oxygen was blocked by a sea of humanity clinging to the side of the pool. I kept bumping my head into someone’s rear end as I desperately sought to break the surface of the water. Finally, with no time to spare, this person finally moved aside and I emerged, gasping but alive. Though thousands of people clogged the pool that day, the bum that only begrudgingly moved and nearly killed me belonged to my very own sister. This was yet another “coincidence” during my childhood that nearly led to my demise at the hands (or arse) of my fellow siblings.
4) When I was thirteen, I went to a water park in Phoenix called “Big Surf.” There was a mechanical wave machine, and if you caught the manufactured wave correctly on your small, rented raft, you would skip off the heads of swimmers on your way to the shore; it was great fun. As I raced across the water’s surface on one particular run, I saw the impediment too late: a huge woman in a bikini, plopped upon and testing the physics of a compromised air mattress. She looked like an immense mound of only slightly discolored cottage cheese stuffed into a bathing suit; her two grotesque albino ham shanks slapped idly at the water in a pathetic attempt to propel herself forward. Her fat foot caught me in the neck, just above my left shoulder; I slid beneath the surface like a herring thrown against a wall. I actually passed out for a second, and came to with a lung full of chlorinated pee water. Someone stole my raft, or it was engulfed by the cottage cheese. Either way, I was done for the day, and couldn’t turn my head for a week.
5) I played youth tackle football as a middle schooler. Pulled from my normal position on the bench and thrown into the game to play linebacker, I soon saw an opportunity to cheap-shot a running back whose momentum had been slowed. Just then, the ball popped out and glory beckoned. I pounced on the loose football, the point of which stabbed me in the sternum and caused me to lose my breath. The entire rosters of both teams, along with their cheerleaders, coaches, fans, mascots and a couple of passing cars then proceeded to pile on top, with the ball still standing on end underneath me. Instant panic. After twenty minutes or so, everyone finally got off and I was able to roll off the ball and breathe again. I slowly got to my knees, briefly regarded the remnants of that morning’s breakfast in my facemask, than gathered up most of my small intestine, which had been spontaneously ejected in the pileup, and teetered off the field.
6) In the neighborhood pool, my middle school friends and I engaged in a heated game of tag, wherein those who were “it” would attempt to pull others to the surface before they swam underwater to the other side. Well, this time Alicia, a tall, beautiful, deep-tanned blonde was “it”, and I endeavored to swim a bit too close and make myself easier to catch. I needn’t have bothered; Alicia was like a Bottle-nosed Dolphin underwater (a really hot, long-legged, blonde Bottle-nosed Dolphin) and was upon me in a second. She wrapped her arms and legs around me and squeezed for all she was worth; I pretended to struggle whilst silently thanking the angels for having opened heaven’s gates to me. I soon submitted, but heaven quickly turned to hell: she wouldn’t let go. My mixed-martial art tap-out of submission turned into a frenzied, panicked fist pounding, and after what seemed an eternity, she allowed me to surface. I coughed and wheezed like an emphysemic smoker bobbing for apples and blew snot bubbles from my nostrils; I doubt she was impressed. This was perhaps the first time I learned that women, like most things that intrigue beyond good common sense, are dangerous.
7) In elementary school, I was chosen by my teacher to be a crossing guard. Because of my grades and ability to smooch posteriorly at such an early age, I was elected captain, proving early on that an attractive resume doesn’t guarantee a productive employee. My friend and I would stand on opposite sides of the cross walk, pitching rocks and hitting them with our stop signs. After one particularly Ruthian swing, my sign detached from its handle, flew directly at my friend (thankfully he ducked), then curved upward and embedded itself three inches into the trunk of a large palm tree. Though he was nearly decapitated, I actually came closer to dying when Mrs. Jorgensen came out and found me dangling from the sign, bouncing up and down in an effort to loosen it from the tree.
8) While in middle school, I was pedaling my bike down a long street at a high rate of speed when it came upon me that it would be cool to swing my leg over and place both feet on the left pedal whilst still maintaining my balance. The bike fell over immediately, and I bounced along the pavement for several feet. Fortunately, again, the concussion had not yet been invented. As I laid in the street, pulling gravel out of the road rash on my arms and legs and marveling at my own capacity for idiocy, a tiny Basset Hound puppy came from a yard to greet me. (I defy you to find a cuter puppy than a Basset; unfortunately, they grow up to be adult Bassets). He was adorable, and I felt immediately better. Suddenly, I heard a great roar as Mama Basset barreled toward me; I had only time to stand before she leaped. Incredibly, she latched her jowls upon my crotch, and as momentum carried her past, she ripped off a chunk of my shorts and flew into the street. I jumped onto my bike, ignoring the pain as I furiously pumped my legs. She ran alongside, biting at my feet until her stumpy legs would not allow her to keep pace. I raced home, terrified that I’d become a eunuch, or worse, that I’d forever lost the ability to urinate with a definable stream, or worse still, robbed of that which other men took for granted before I’d ever been able to use it, or worst, all of the above. (A quick peek in the mirror once I got home allayed my fears).
9) A couple of years ago, I was in an old, high-scale neighborhood in northwest Tucson on a service call. I was standing in the back of my box truck looking for something I needed for the job; once I’d found it I went to step down onto the bumper to get out. For some reason, I missed the bumper (I likely tripped on the endless clutter on the floor; organization is not my strong suit) and tumbled into the street. It was a nice fall (it’s three feet from the back of my truck to the ground) and I was lucky to be unhurt. As I laid on my back, stared up at the sky and pondered my good fortune, a car backed out of the opposing driveway and missed my head by inches. The old bird in the passenger seat looked down at me in horror, then turned and shouted something to the driver. The Cadillac roared off and left me lying in a cloud of exhaust. To this day I am unsure if they thought they’d hit me or if I had been planning some complicated ruse in order to get them out of their car so I could rape/murder/carjack them. I prefer to think it was the latter.
10) I let my wife drive me around again last week. I watched the diving pedestrians, hood-flipping bicyclists and careening motorists impassively as my wife told me a story with exaggerated hand movements and jerks of the wheel. It occurred to me that God must yet have some plan for me, one that can’t be precluded by some bizarre accidental death. Though my thrill for danger has ebbed with advancing age, I almost feel secure enough to step into a busy thoroughfare without looking, knowing full well that my angels will save me. I hope that whatever His purpose for me, I am aware of its significance at the appointed time so that I will become more vigilant after it has passed.