I demand a Recount!
I'm sure the county clerk must have made an error on this certificate.
First, I’ll let the comic do the talking…
I am not 60. I am 18, with 42 years’ experience. Distressingly, the experience was gained mostly through pain and idiocy.
If I were to be honest and account for the law of averages I should have been smitten from this planet decades ago.
At age 3, in an attempt to climb up the kitchen cabinets to grab my favorite glass baby bottle, I managed to drop and shatter it on the floor. I then followed the bottle and fell face first into the shards.
This might explain why baby bottles have been made from unbreakable plastic for the last 5 decades.
At age 8, I gashed my head open on a desk in first grade when Harold Nixon tied my shoelaces together. It’s not many who can boast that they were followed to the school nurse’s office by their entire class, who were directed by the teacher to use paper towels to mop up the blood on the hallway floors.
I’m pretty sure that if any teacher were to now try that kind of group janitorial/ER cleanup there’d be a slew of lawsuits and extensive trauma counseling.
The rest of my pre-teen years can be summed up by a collection bike accidents, sledding accidents, stair falls, tree falls, childhood diseases, and getting lost in the woods far too many times.
Bike accidents followed me well into my 30s. How I still have kneecaps, elbows and hands is a miracle of chance.
My teen years in upstate Big Flats, NY were a time when I found a group of like-minded, equally stupid pals. We’d amuse each other with dumb stunts and dangerous acts: backwoods campouts that featured liquor stolen from our parents followed by seeing who’d be the longest to stand on the camp bonfire; winter time sledding down hills that were 90 degree cliffs covered with ice; tossing giant rocks into the air just to see if any would land on our heads; and July 4th brought Roman candle wars and tests to see what happens when Bic lighters are thrown into a fire.
Sprinkle all that with random acts of vandalism, for which we always got arrested, and the years from 13-17 could be called the “Festival of the Dunces.”
During this time, I’m sure my parents were plotting to outright murder me in my sleep as the cheaper, less stressful option to raising such a jackass.
Thankfully they were too exhausted at night to carry out their plans.
From age 18 to 25 things get a bit hazy due to all the drugs and booze that were imbibed. (Note that the legal drinking age at the time was 18).
However I do recall that when I wasn’t playing in bands and trying to electrocute myself, there was lots of blotto stunt driving after the bars closed.
Memories of my college years in Buffalo are also foggy… and cold. It’s not many who can claim they nearly froze to death…inside their home. That’s because my housemates and I were so impoverished that heating was a secondary concern to the money needed for booze and pizza to carry us through the long winters.
Once Buffalo spit me out, I headed off to New York City with dreams of conquering the Illustration world. Sadly though, crushing poverty with an equally crushing lack of luck at finding illustration gigs pushed me to fall back on graphic design and the lucrative business of advertising.
Which if you’ve ever worked in advertising, you know it’s the perfect business for anyone who’s constantly skirting death’s embrace. Long hours, crap food, unending stress, and rampant cocaine or alcohol abuse will have anyone clutching their chest in no time at all. It’s even better when you add a divorce followed by a string of dubious sexual adventures into the mix.
Let’s just say that from the years 30 to 38, my blood pressure was so high I could have gotten a temp job as the Lincoln Plaza fountain…and what a nice sanguine color it would have been.
Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.
But thankfully the money earned in the ad biz allowed me to learn the joys of international travel, where I could find all new places that a grisly death awaited me.
Like in Ireland, where driving like an American can lead you to a head-on collision, or off a cliff, or crashing into any number of the ivy camouflaged heavy stone walls that line the roads.
Belize and Costa Rica offered a panoply of extinction events: getting drowned in category 4 white water rafting; being boiled alive in volcanic Hot springs, getting bitten by any number of deadly snakes or insects; having one’s face eaten by a barracuda…or alligator; tumbling off a Mayan Temple; having your brain eaten by worms in Mayan cave spelunking; or getting infected with any number of parasites, bot flies, leeches, and varying levels of Hepatitis. Central American jungles are the place to visit if you wish to test the expanse of your mortal coil.
Then again, South Africa also offered a dealer’s choice in death between encounters with Lions, Baboons, Car-jackers, or dying on a 29K hike in 100+ degree weather.
Speaking of not bringing enough water, hyperthermia was par for course while mountain biking in California, hiking in the Arizona desert, and being high in acid at Burning Man ’96. Of course that was the least of my concerns at that festival considering that one night I rode my bike, sans water or food, miles into the desert while thinking that I was riding toward, and not away from, the camp.
That reminds me. Count driving to Burning Man as a brush with death since my pal Steve and I decided we’d save time on the drive by taking an unmarked shortcut through an irradiated military testing zone.
As I neared 40, I met the woman of my dreams and future wife. She saved me from these near death experiences, only due to the fact that she’s more accident prone than me.
This has helped me to be a touch more alert in life and look out for any perils that may harm her. Unfortunately though, over the course of our 20 plus years together, I’ve learned that my hyper vigilance to look out for hazards that might befall my wife has left me open to falling for the hazards my wife has set up around the house.
Like in the garage, where yard tools are perilously propped up on a shelf and entangled with other tools so that reaching for one launches a dozen projectiles at your head.
Or in the kitchen, where any number of glasses are set high enough up in the cupboard so that I have to climb up to reach for one, only to end up having it slip from my hand and smash into a million shards on the floor…like they’re waiting for me…again.
If I’ve learned anything from thinking back on my life today, and mulling over this birthday, it’s that one should creatively appreciate each day as a gift.
That and to also remember as you get older the law of averages is more strictly enforced.
May you have a more than average week.