In action movies, snap decisions usually go like this:
“Captain McMurdock, sir! The albino cannibal protestors are closing in on the compound with thermonuclear pots and pans!”
“Wicked picketers! OK, team, listen up! Sully, you and your men round up 15 gallons of epoxy. I don’t care how many people you have to Greco-Roman wrestle, just do it! Barcelona, initiate Operation Jump Rope along the perimeter. Petey-Pete, looks like we’ll be needing that sewing kit after all… And Ms. Brumpum?
“You keep lookin’ gorgeous, gorgeous.”
In the real world, of course, the scene would unfold more like this:
“Captain McMurdock, sir! The albino cannibal protestors are closing in… I think. That’s what Graham told me, anyway.”
“Where is Graham? Why isn’t he telling me himself?”
“He would, sir, but he had to do an errand first.”
“In the middle of an albino cannibal protestor onslaught?”
“Prentice told him you said it was okay. Something about sports socks.”
“[Sigh] Fine… OK, team, time to launch Operation Smack-That-Thang! Spanish Joe, set the turbines for ‘verisimilitude.’ Gus, you know what to do.”
“Yes, like we discussed.”
“I, um, I… What are we doing again?”
“Dammit, people, we have ACPs breathing down our neck! We’ve known this moment was coming. We’ve trained for this! Now, are we ready?”
“Sir, yes, sir!”
“Then let’s go crack some placards!”
“Uhhh, sir? Can I go pee first?”
Such is life. I know this because I went camping with three other families in New Hampshire last weekend, the centrepiece of which was tubing down the Saco River. The deployment of those adults and children from campground to river was not conducted with action-movie precision. It was more like Beckett-play uncertainty – Waiting for To Go.
What’s great about a river, though, is that it will always be there for you. And so we did eventually figure out transportation, call dibs on the tubes, assemble beverages, take care of bladders and begin floating leisurely down the river. There are few more relaxing ways to spend an afternoon while deluding yourself that you’re adequately sunscreened. I imagine this was the kind of thing the Romans did just before their empire collapsed, except the water probably wasn’t quite so chilly on their decadent tushies.
Halfway to our destination, we paddled to the bank where a rope dangled from an overhanging branch. A Tarzan rope! Now we were in action-movie mode! Out swung one child, then another, an adult, my middle daughter, another child, my youngest daughter (oh-dear-let-go-let-go-let-go! “Great job!”).
Next thing I know, my wife is scrambling up the bank. Though she and I are closer to our broken-hip years than our wild years, swinging from ropes is still the type of thing we pretend it’s not too ridiculous to do.
“Go, Deb, go!” I shouted from my tube, where I was planning not to budge, because, man, that water really was cold!
Deb launched herself. But her takeoff was weird, as though she had dropped down the rope. And she hit the water too quickly, awkwardly.
“I think I just broke my finger,” she said as she surfaced. Another adult swam to help her. I was going to, you understand, but I could see that matters were under control and, umm, the cold water…?
Back on shore, Deb held out her ring finger. It was twisted a full quarter turn to the left. It looked like some kind of gag plastic finger. “I think I’m going to gag!” said one of the kids. So there you go…
“I think it’s dislocated,” she said.
“You need to get that checked,” I said.
“It’ll be fine,” she said. She always says this.
We got her rings off before the finger began to swell and convinced her to keep the hand in the cold water. We had no choice but to continue floating down to where the cars awaited us. From there, we would reassess and likely head to the nearby hospital where we would have first-hand experience with American healthcare and massive personal debt.
“I did it!” It was Deb, two tubes back.
“Did what?” I called.
“I popped it back! I just pulled on it and it popped back into place.”
Seriously? “I just pulled on it”? She set her own bone? Just like that?
Sure, it later turned out to be fractured and the ligaments are messed up and she’s in a cast now, but as far as I’m concerned, my wife is freakin’ Arnold John McClane Rambo Lara Croft! She’s a bad-ass action hero. Can’t swing a rope worth shit but she’s one tough tuber!
Speaking of excitement, just two more days for my blockbuster double-book giveaway. I’ll be making the draw at the end of the day Friday and announce the lucky winner next week. Can you feel the tension?