I’m no stranger to horrific experiences in the great outdoors. And I admit I don’t always handle them well.
Like the time I went camping, and in the middle of the night, a raccoon the size of a bear devoured my Rice Krispie treats. I’m not proud of awakening the other campers when I used my bullhorn to issue this warning, “You’ll wish you didn’t have those handy opposable thumbs when you need insulin injections!”
Or the time I sat around a campfire smoking a cigar, drinking cheap brandy, and the campground authorities didn’t like the commotion I made when I heard a coyote and hurled my s’mores.
I ditched camping, and it’s not because I’m on the list of banned campers in the state of Maine either. I’m more of an indoor person. And I don’t like danger.
But danger can lurk in the most common outdoor experience as I discovered one day during my lunch break.
Famished, I overlooked the risk of melanoma and Lyme disease to join co-workers, Brandi and Cynthia, for lunch at a communal picnic table. When I approached the table there was one person sitting on each side, and sorry I could not sit on both, I took the one less sat upon.
And it made all the difference.
It started out like any ordinary lunch shared under a cloudless sky on an 85-degree, humid summer day. I plunked down a tall glass of water and used a mini-crowbar to pry the lid from my Tupperware containing last night’s leftovers.
Poised to take my first bite, I heard a curious rumble. I didn’t want to embarrass anyone by asking, “Who farted?” Besides, my hearing isn’t all that good, and for all I knew it was me.
Then I heard the theme from Chariots of Fire ever so faintly in the background as I watched the picnic table collapse. In slow motion.
Brandi is usually ultra-compassionate, but in an uncharacteristic display of callousness, she screamed, “My phone! My phone! The water spilled on my phone!”
Meanwhile, my legs were squeezed between the disassembled table top and the bench, but I could see that Cynthia was in worse trouble. In an uncharacteristic display of bravery, I yelled, “To hell with your phone. Cynthia is pinned under this table!”
And just like the legend of the ninety-pound weakling who lifts a piano to save a life, I bench-pressed the table high enough for Cynthia to roll out from under its crushing weight.
For the record, I haven’t weighed ninety pounds since I was in first grade, which may have contributed to the demise of the picnic table, but I can assure you I qualify as a bona fide weakling.
Brandi dried her phone and fussed about the fact that one of her pant legs was soaking wet, and she was missing a shoe. Once we knew Cynthia had only suffered grass stains, I looked at the back of my legs and said, “My back legs are hurt!” Cynthia, regaining her composure and wit, said, “As opposed to your front legs, you mean?”
Having determined that no one was seriously injured, Brandi’s phone was in full working order, and we had not lost our lunches, we laughed hysterically until we all had wet pants.
Have you ever rescued someone from impending disaster? What’s the shelf life of your heroic act? In other words, how long can you milk it for special treatment?