Warning: Life May be Hazardous
by Greg Moody
Take a moment.
Think of your life.
Are you as amazed as I am that we’re still here?
Not because of war or The Bomb or any of the great questions that came with being a Boomer (“Are you sure this is safe to smoke?”), but just by surviving the life we were given.
I rode around in any number of Fords and Chryslers with steel dashboards, unrestrained, bouncing up and down in the backseat like a chambered round ready for flight, ready to give truth to the Jay Leno line about 50’s family cars: “Get in an accident, and your folks could hose off the dashboard and sell the car.”
I got hit in the forehead by a baseball bat, somewhere between the right frontal bone and the forehead boss. I wasn’t wearing a helmet. I was lucky. It was just another kid swinging the bat, so there wasn’t much on it, but still, I had a goose egg the size of a grapefruit shuttering my right eye and a mother waking me up every ten minutes for two weeks to see if I was still alive.
I think about that moment quite a bit, wondering if it had an effect on how my mind works, or doesn’t. I do know how lucky I was: one inch south and I could have lost my right eye; two inches east and it would have done a number on my temple; even now, I can still find the site of impact on my face. It’s not visible, but if I run my fingers across my forehead, I can find the crack that, I’m pretty sure, wasn’t there when I started the ride. It runs from my hairline down to my right eye socket.
I’ve gotta wonder how many IQ points slipped out of that crack over the years.
Riding on the front handlebars of my sister JoAnn’s big, blue Columbia bicycle, I pondered just what kind of noise the spokes would make if I ran my bare toes along their edges as they spun. I discovered that it’s difficult to judge minute distances between toes and spokes while in motion and that the sound is likely to be a scream, followed by a crunch as your face hits the asphalt.
I got run over by a sled driven by my brother, locked in an ice shanty during the spring melt, nearly choked to death on a piece of raw potato, stood close by as three of the neighborhood tough guys threw lit matches at an orange juice can filled with gasoline and proceeded to blow up a stand of young birch trees, just missed having my head rammed by the bow of a fishing boat speeding toward shore, steadied the business end of a .30–30 with my shoulder while my buddy pulled the trigger so we could see what kind of noise it made (loud), and, rolled a Volkswagen Beetle eight times down a hill (I think it was eight. I lost track at four.), then, drove what was left of it home.
I fell off the top bunk of any number of bunk beds, always feeling that it made perfect sense to put the kid afflicted with nightmares on the top bunk in any and all situations; fell down countless stairs; got caught in the back of the head by a 2x4 that got away from a carpenter on a roof; walked between the prop blades of a C-2A Greyhound’s starboard engine on an aircraft carrier just before they cranked her up (I remember looking up and seeing an ashen faced co-pilot screaming something in the cockpit); and, while in Norway for NATO War games for the Naval Reserve, promptly proceeded to: 1) Have my helicopter listed as shot down; 2) Step on a simulated mine; 3) Get figuratively run over by a tank (someday, I’ll explain how one can be figuratively run over by anything); and, 4) be killed on a landing beach by a Seal team.
(In fairness to me, it was cold and raining when they dropped me off on the landing beach at 4am on some unknown fjord, and there was a barn off to the side and it made perfect sense to go to it and open the door and stand just inside out of the rain until, of course, it began to feel creepy and, then, it made even better sense to walk out of the barn and just go stand in the rain until the landing began, which, is, of course, when the Seal team came out of the barn, one of the members looking at me and drawing a line across his throat.)
We take our lives in our hands every time we start a car engine (Accident), or eat a meal (Choke and/or Listeria), or take a pill (Side Effects May Include: Heart Attack, Stroke, Suicidal Thoughts, Incontinence, Impotence, Hair Loss, Weight Gain, Tooth Decay and the Inability to Read the Little, Tiny Words That Make Up This Warning.).
We have been living on the edge since the very start of the game.
We always have been.
We always will be.
No matter how much the federal, state and local nannies try to protect us, I have come to learn that life is a dangerous game and the ticket to the game comes with a price that we all know. It’s a steep price, but at some point in time, we’re all going to have to pay it.
There’s only one thing to do about it.
Maybe I should start.