Surviving Old Age and the Merits of the MAN TRIP
At 46 years old, you might think that I’m mature. Or at least heading in that direction..right? I mean, after all, I’m past the age of feeling invincible and doing stupid things that can get me hurt. At my ripe old age I’m supposed to be all “hey careful you don’t take your eye out!”, and “slow down people, this ain’t the mainland!” My stepsons will vouch that I am always on them about not going to close to the edge of cliffs, being careful with pocketknives and fire, you know, normal stuff that kids (especially boys) are naturally drawn too. Don’t even get me started on the topics of bows, arrows, and pellet guns! But as it turns out as men age, we tend to revert back to our younger foolhardy ways at the first opportunity we can.
Who among us doesn’t have a tale or two about when crazy Uncle So and So who had way too much rum one night and ended up falling into the bonfire? Or how about when Grandpa took his first test drive on a quad and ended up slamming into the neighbors trailer during their family reunion dinner? I mean, I can personally think of many stories that start with “Oh man…remember that time when..”, or perhaps “I thought I would never stop laughing when…”. Not to mention I suppose that for some reason or other I seem to have been the star performer in some of these, er, memorable moments.
Consider if you will the phrases our parents said to us, that we as kids felt were just ridiculous and would never ever happen, especially to someone like us! For example “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”. Classic. Or maybe “Don’t run with that!”. Or even more relevant “Always cut away from you!”. Pffft..as if. Parents…sheesh!
As a kid, I certainly got into my share of broken bones, skinned knees, fat lips, knocked out teeth, deep cuts, and of course too many bumps and bruises to even count. We called them War Wounds. Medals of Honor. They were the starting point of a great story and something to show off with pride! But as I grew older, and my taste for the extreme and painful became more and more averse, I figured that come adulthood all of these mishaps were behind me. Certainly I had learned my lessons the hard way. Right?
It turns out that as you get older (and I debate the wiser part) you bounce along without incident for the most part, following societies rules for safe behavior as you go. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t swim on a full stomach (is this really even a thing? I mean, the last thing I want to do after inhaling a large plate of poutine is go swimming!). Don’t play with matches, always point the business end of a weapon away from you. You get my drift. But then an opportunity arises that you didn’t account for that takes you back to those days of recklessness and foolhardiness. Let’s just call these opportunities what they are. MAN TRIPS.
A MAN TRIP by definition can take numerous forms, making it the chameleon of trouble making potential. It can sometimes be as simple as a trip with a buddy to the store down the road. Or perhaps a quick trip down a dirt road that has previously not been explored. Or maybe its a weekend away with old friends or new. It can be short in duration, or long (and sometimes painful) depending on the circumstance and can take place at home, abroad, or even in the house. Yes, the MAN TRIP is a dangerous yet seductive beast that is legendary and yet with all it’s inherent risks it is not only sought after with vigor by men all over the planet but ranks second only to the most dangerous of all MAN TRIPS which of course is the Bachelor Party.
As I was sitting down at home tonight thinking of what to write about for this weeks post, I was skimming through some old photographs from adventures past and I came across some classic incidents and accidents that I’ve been in. For example, remember the old “eye” warning? Just so happens that is true, since I almost took one of mine out with a nice tree limb.
Then there is the infamous meat draw story. One day, after a long day of saltwater fishing for salmon off Sooke, BC, my buddy Paul and I decided to head into town for a meal. Not wanting to hang out in town, we took the twenty minute drive into the city to hit a pub for supper. By the time we arrived it was quite dark, and due to it being a Saturday night the parking lot was full. Not finding anywhere in the pub lot I found a place across the street and we pulled into a dirt lot and got out and prepared to cross the road to the pub. Just as we were getting out of the truck, I heard an announcement over the pub’s PA system telling the patrons that the last chance for the prime rib meat draw was coming up, and to hurry and get tickets! Well..enough said!
Paul crossed the road first, and since I was fumbling around with my wallet and keys I had fallen behind so in order to not miss my chance at the meat draw I took off at full speed to cross the road. Unfortunately, I did not see the asphalt island in the road, and promptly tripped and flew through the air, landing on my outstretched hands and arms. When I hit the ground, I knew right away from the immediate wave of nausea that things had gone horribly wrong.
“Hurry up man!” Paul was yelling, not wanting to miss the draw. But when he turned to have a look for me he saw me on the road, curled up in the fetal position, with a car heading right towards me. He ran into the street, grabbed me by the belt, and literally picked me up and dragged me to the side of the road. “Jesus ya silly Newfie, what the heck are you doing?”
“My arm is busted” I said. “Take me to the hospital”.
“Seriously” he said, not believing me, “I’m starving man!”
“Seriously. Sorry bud, dinner will have to wait”.
So off we went, and it turns out that it takes a considerable amount of trying to convince an Emergency Room admitting nurse that:
A) You have haven’t had anything to drink. Honest.
B) That it is normal to be running to a pub for a meat draw, I mean…who doesn’t?
C) See A.
After hours and hours of waiting, it turned out that I had in fact broken both arms, and cracked a rib or two. And while it was actually really funny to both Paul and I and makes a hell of a story, I can tell you that wiping one’s posterior with two broken arms is a challenge that I don’t recommend anyone take on. Lucky for me they left one arm in a sling rather than a cast, so while it took twice as long to heal I was able to maneuver.
Of course broken limbs and almost poked out eyes aside, there are other more subtle dangers that MAN TRIPS can produce. For example, there’s always the case of extreme sunburn because you decided that for the first time in 20 years you would expose your normally lily white stomach and back to the harsh rays of the sun while boating for 8 hours. Thank god you got that “base burn” over and done with hey? Or how about the copious amount of bee stings you received one time because you decided to go “off trail” and be all rugged and stuff? Did I mention I am allergic to them? Luckily not to the point of death, but most definitely to the point of incredibly painful swelling and tenderness for weeks.
These are just a few choice selections or my own history, and I bet if you are reading this you will no doubt be recalling some of your own injury stories too. But MAN TRIPS can often make you do other things that a sane person wouldn’t consider on a normal weeknight. Take for example the Viking Funeral.
If you follow your history lessons at a kid, you will know that a Viking Funeral is when the Norsemen would lay their dead in a boat, light it on fire, and push it out into the ocean so that the dead can be sent off to Valhalla in a blaze of glory. So how does this relate to the MAN TRIP? Easy. Nothing spells fun in the woods with your friends more than white gas in a zip-lock baggie, some fireworks, and a bear banger or two. Combine ingredients with something that floats, add some flammable starter material such as newspaper or wood shavings, set all on fire and push off into the water. This is usually followed by hiding behind the nearest rock, tree, or friend who may have nodded off, while you wait for the whole darn thing to “go off”. Sound dangerous? You bet!!
Now, I don’t recommend this of course. I am in no way advocating the reckless use of gunpowder and white gas. And after a few MAN TRIPS when things got a little hairy at said Viking Funeral, we have since stopped the practice.
So what is the point I am trying to make you are wondering? What do any of these things have in common? I guess my point is that if I could do all of them over again, I would. I’m a strong believer in the statement that you are only as old as you feel inside. Apparently I am 11.
The only thing I will say though, is that when things do go wrong, they hurt a lot more and for a lot longer. As I write this now for example, the spots on my arms where I broke them ache, as they do now more often than not. That’s why they invented ibuprofen though I am pretty sure. It was probably dreamed up by a someone who just recently came home from a MAN TRIP. And even though you may get the odd injury from time to time, the healing you receive from spending quality time with family, good friends, and the good old outdoors more than makes up for it. After all, without the adventures of old Uncle So and So, life would be pretty boring indeed.
LONG LIVE THE MAN TRIP!