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The three times I should have died.

June 19, 2009

Here are three times I probably should have died. I’ll try to think of more, but these are a good start.

Roofriding – on summer nights with nothing to do back in high school we would drive our cars to the top of this long, straight hill out on a rural road where one (or two) of us would lie down on the car’s roof, head just above the windshield, arms outstretched with hands holding onto the roof rack if there was one or the roof of the car (though open windows) and then hold on for dear life and scream in delight and terror as the driver sped back down the hill, reaching speeds of 60 and 70 mph. Some of the record-holding roofriders in town would wear ski goggles. Others like me would hit 45 mph (you’d be amazed how fast 45 feels holding onto the top of a car, going down a hill at night) nearly die of fear, and kick the roof, thereby telling the driver to slow down.

Nobody ever crashed. Nobody ever fell or got hurt. But we damn should have. Funny – now I live on that road and drive it every day, much slower and with 3 car seats in the back.

 The Water tower – I was a freshman in college at a small school in central Pennsylvania, where I was recruited to play soccer. For underage kids like me there wasn’t much to do in terms of partying except for frat houses and their parties. Being on the soccer team got me into a lot of frats and a lot of parties. One night one of those parties ended up with me and a couple dudes from the frat taking a backpack of beer up the ladder of the water tower on campus. I wobbled up to the top and remember just sitting down on the top, at the edge, with my feet resting on a very small cable beyond which was probably a 90-ft drop, sipping cans of cheap beer.

 Too drunk to be nervous. One of us really should have fallen. We were wasted and up very high. Some innate fear must have blocked it as an option after that evening because we never even talked about doing that venture again.

 Car Sledding – back to high school. One winter night after a fresh dump of snow, we went down to the high school parking lot and tied a rope to the back bumper of Grub’s dad’s Toyota. I laid down on my belly in a red sled and held onto the rope. Grub put it into gear and began driving, making turns and dragging me joyfully around the deserted lot. It was a blast. Eventually he turned left and then too-quickly turned right again. I was sliding right like a water-skier when he went left and when he came quickly back right again I was still heading right. Last thing I remember is seeing the right rear wheel directly in front of me and neither me nor the car slowing down. I threw up my hands to block my face from the wheel and that’s when we hit.

 The car slid to a stop in the snow and I could hear Jess in the passenger seat saying, “Dude, you killed Pat!”

 Turns out I was fine. My hands hit the hub of the back wheel and I was somehow blessed with amazing strength that very moment and was able to actually push myself back off of the moving car in reverse of my sliding momentum.  It was pure magic I survived. Not a scratch on me but we left the parking lot soon after to laugh about it, everyone still in shock.

So maybe I shouldn’t have died in all three instances but I easily could have. Easily. I’m glad we eventually smartened up and all I can hope is that my kids never get as bored as I was on those nights…

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 20, 2009 4:03 pm

    Or maybe you can steer them to somewhat safer activities for kids who need thrills – ice climbing or extreme mountain biking or whatever enthralls them.

    Some former neighbors just lost their 21-year-old – died after he fell over or off a railing on a third-floor balcony while attending parties there. They’re bereft, as is his ten-year-old brother.

    Yep, funnel your kids toward something just a bit smarter …

  2. June 22, 2009 1:54 pm

    How did I never know this about you?

    The roof riding sounds fun and stupid. We used to go shagging — but that was crouching down behind the car and holding onto the back bumper as they drove down the snowy road — kinda like waterskiing. Only got dangerous when you hit a patch of pavement long enough to stop the slide. Ouch.

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