May 26, 2007
Several people have requested that I run this column from August of 2004. As it happened, Just a few days ago I was flying down I-81 in my pickup truck when I ran over some sort of debris, slicing a big gash in one of my tires. The tractor trailer behind me was close enough I could count the bugs in its radiator. I managed to get to the shoulder without getting flattened. I took a deep breath and looked over to my guardian angel. She was hodling her head in her hands and groaning. “Not again!” She said.
So, here’s the re-run. “Dillsburg” is a town in southcentral Pennsylvania that I once covered for the newspaper I work for:
I had a close call coming out of an alley in Dillsburg the other day. My fault. Just wasn’t paying attention and almost got myself whacked. Of course, if the other guy hadn’t pretended to be Dale Earnhardt….but that’s not the point.
As it was, I had to give another thumbs up to my guardian angel. And I made a mental note to be more careful: The old girl’s not as nimble as she used to be. You’ll know her if you see her: lots of band aids, a patch over one eye, a permanent case of the tremors, and a habit of jumping at loud noises. She can sometimes be heard to mumble to colleagues: “I never knew just how long eternity could be.”’
I really am a timid sort.
Looking back, though, I am amazed at the things I’ve tried. Even so, my tendencies have leaned more toward Casper Milquetoast than Mighty Mouse. “Who’s he tryins’ to k-k-kid?’ my guardian angel asks, stoically trying not to scratch at her hives. “The guy has no sense.’
Well, she may be right. I never really claimed to be brave, simply incautious; it started when I was a kid.
I loved to climb up to the tops of trees during bad weather. I would get as high as I could, so when the winds kicked up, I could ride the storm. I never got killed. Not even once. The angel, however, got a real workout. I can hear her now, mumbling something that sounded like “born-again kamikaze,’and chewing on her halo. Understand that I was young, and like everyone young, figured I was going to live forever.
It was the same when I got my motorcycle. It was no Harley or Boss Hoss, but a mid-size Japanese bike the color of a bluebottle fly. It made a noise like a bee who’d been drinking Red Bull. I loved it. It was snappy, nimble as a bicycle, and it would go over 100 miles per hour. It’s a good thing guardian angels can’t die, because that motorcycle would have killed mine, otherwise. I always put my brains in my back pocket when I rode. I did every damn-fool thing on that Suzuki except get killed.
Probably would have done that, too, if I hadn’t woke one day on one side of a bridge with the car I had hit on the other side. I still don’t know how I got away from that one, though I think the nervous lady in the wings and robe had some thing to do with it. Well, whatever happened, I seem to have grown out of all that daredevil stuff. I drive a minivan, and brag about how good it is on gas, rather than how fast it goes. I think that’s the better way to be.
During one of our recent heavy storms, I caught myself looking wistfully at one of the tall trees in my yard. A climbable tall tree. I thought, briefly, about climbing it, riding the storm for old times’ sake.
“Right,” I seemed to hear a celestial, if harried, voice say. “But you do this one with out me.”
I stayed on the ground, but I wasn’t happy about it. One thing I can’t stand is a quitter.
© 2006 Marsh Creek Media,
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