I can’t believe this is my 223rd blog posting. I worry about running out of ideas. I’ve touched on nearly all the disturbing topics: atheism, cocaine experimentation, sexual fetishes, the Tea party, incest, abortion, fratricide, insanity, self-flagellation, etc. Just about the only
taboo topic left is Death. Death has been on my mind a lot after reading about the terrible catastrophes in Japan. Among other things, I started obsessing about various times that I might have died but didn’t. Then I remembered what a relief it was when we learned as children that cats have nine lives. My friends and I always believed that that’s probably true for human beings as well. Why should cats be the only ones to deserve such a break? So I made up a list how many of my lives I’ve gone through so far. I was pretty shocked when I realized that I’ve actually used up eight of my nine lives. I can’t believe it -- that leaves only one to go! Here are the grisly details:
(1) Death by Drowning (1943): When I was six my dad, my brother Steve, and I were walking across the frozen Green Bay ice to the end of the Menominee breakwater when I suddenly fell through soft ice into the eight foot deep freezing water. My dad couldn’t get to me, and I was on my own. Despite my snowsuit being water-soaked, I was able to drag my way through the ice chunks and freezing water, pull myself up onto the breakwater, and run back to my grandfather’s drugstore before I turned into an ice statue.
(2) Death by Hanging (1945): My neighborhood friends and I were playing cowboys in the back yard, and I was picked to be the cattle rustler who the posse was lynching. I climbed up on a tree branch, and my playmates made a noose from a thin metal chain and tightened it around my neck. I started clowning around and leaning over as if I were falling to my death, but then I actually did slip and fall out of the tree. The noose pulled tight around my neck, but, to my luck, the knot slipped out. Rather than being strangled to death, I simply fell on my butt.
(3) Death by Wild Buffalo Goring (1950): On a very dark night on our westward bus trip to Philmont Boy Scout Ranch in New Mexico, Frankie S. and I followed a long metal fence, trying to get to the brightly lit carnival we could see in the distance. Despite a warning sign, we finally climbed over the fence, walked eighty or so feet through some large black mounds, then climbed another high fence to get where we were going. In the morning we discovered that the large black mounds between the two fences were 27 wild buffalos into whose pen we had climbed and any one of which could have gored us to death.
(4) Death by Oil Tanker Explosion (1954): Driving across the Interstate Bridge in Menominee, I showed Frankie how I could lock our Lincoln V-12’s steering wheel in place by turning the ignition key off. I didn’t realize, however, that I wouldn’t be able to unlock the steering wheel as long as the car was in motion. An oil tanker was right behind us. My unsteerable car, moving straight ahead, finally bounced onto the bridge’s sidewalk. The oil tanker scooted around us, avoiding a rear-end collision and fiery explosion.
(5) Death on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (1957): I was driving a group of college friends to New York on a rainy night. When I found myself behind a large semi, I decided to pass him in what I thought to be a one-way tunnel through Blue Mountain. I’d gotten two-thirds of the way past the semi when I suddenly saw two headlights coming straight at me. I’d had no idea it was a two-way tunnel and that I was on the wrong side of the road. I hit the brakes as hard as I could, waited for what seemed like eternity, then whipped my car at the righthand wall the moment I cleared the semi I’d been passing. I felt my car being blown to the side by the oncoming truck as it whizzed by us, missing our car by about a tenth of a second.
(6) Eaten by Bears (1961). On our camping road trip to the west Katja and I pulled into a campground late at night in New Mexico. Not finding an available campsite and too tired to pitch our tent, we just put our sleeping bags down in an isolated area. In the morning a man from Texas walked by and asked if we’d seen the “bahhrs”. We finally figured out he meant “bears”. It turned out that we’d been sleeping on top of the covered garbage pits where a herd of black bears visited every night to scavage for their evening meal.
(7) Death by Immolation (1995): Katja was driving as we returned on I-75 from an airport trip and entered a construction zone. Traffic had come to a complete stop, so Katja did too. When I heard tires squealing, I looked at the lane next to us in order to watch somebody’s spectacular crash. The squealing car, however, was directly behind us in our lane and crashed right into our trunk at full speed, demolishing the rear end and totaling our car. Katja was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She had bent the steering wheel in two with her bare hands. The sheriff’s deputy said that it was a miracle that our gas tank didn’t explode and burn us to death.
(8) Death by Hurricane (1998): Katja and I were winding up our weeklong vacation in Destin FL when we received media reports of a pending hurricane. Despite dark skies and heavy winds, I decided to take one more swim. No one was on the beach, and the waves were high. After I’d body-surfed for five minutes or so, a huge twenty-foot wave came hurtling in. I dove into its base, but the water was so turbulent that I was slammed into the sandy ocean bottom, then tumbled around in a series of somersaults. Banged up, I paddled my way through the chest-high blustering waves to the beach, thanking my lucky stars.
Hmm, so that adds up to eight lives gone. Nearly all of these potential catastrophes were a product of my own stupidity or recklessness. I guess the implication is that it would be good to cut down on stupid, reckless things. That’s not always as easy as it sounds, although I’m trying my best. I did read this week on the Internet that Moses lived to age 150, and that was before they even had Medicare. So I’m going to make that my new safe-living goal. It will be one heck of a birthday party.
-Gayle C (3-19): David.....I didn't know you came so close to death so many times....u do have 9 lives. I am soooo glad you have surpassed it all.... Yes Japan is a tragedy beyond belief....Makes u want to cherish every waking moment we have in this life. L O L. G
-Jennifer M (3-18): Funny idea, nicely done.
-David W (3-18): what a great posting-your memory constantly surprises me-good lord i feel i've had the most boring life compared to these near death experiences-by the way where did you find the graphic-i want to send it to jonny-he still does that kind of stuff with a slight pornographic bend perhaps-hmmm
-JML (3-18): It truly is a miracle that you're still with us. I don't have nearly as many harrowing stories. I'm going to read this to V and L and use you as a negative role model of things not to do.