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Last weekend, while scrutinizing the corners of Florida's Everglades National Park for signs of alligators, Florida panthers, scorpions, rattlers, and unclassified poison-fanged fish, my friend Rob reminded me of how, as children, we lived in constant and real (to us, anyway) fear of death by quicksand.

I wonder if today’s generation of children thinks about quicksand as much as I used to. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was positive I would some day encounter quicksand – I thought I came close a few times, in fact, but the 100% reliable Tree Branch Dip Test™ proved otherwise – and, more so, I knew exactly what to do if I ever did find myself in a quicksand fix. The secret to surviving quicksand, as all boys of a certain age knew, was to lie perfectly still. Any sign of struggle would just make the quicksand work faster; flail your arms or try to pull yourself out, and pretty soon you’d be nothing but a Little Slugger hat ominously balanced on the surface of some bubbly mud.

In my imagination, quicksand was not limited to exotic locales like Marrakesh and The Mummy’s Tomb. One could find it, for example, in the wooded lot behind your elementary school. In fact, when I was eight years old, a rumor persisted that three or four children disappeared in quicksand behind our school. I stayed as far away as possible. And nothing could allay my fears, least of all the (possibly) true story about a neighborhood kid who wandered a little too close to a local park’s construction area, and silently drowned in a hot pit of tar that had been allocated for asphalting a new basketball court. (Hot tar and wet concrete were the quicksand of the urban dweller.) That park became cursed, and I never did visit once the new courts had been paved over. No one wants to have his basketball swiped by a ghost, unless that ghost can dunk.

The quicksand discussion got me to thinking about being a child, and all other the ways I imagined I would die. Here’s a partial list, to the best of my recollection:

  • killer bees
  • electric eel
  • choking on a missile fired from a Battlestar Galactica Cylon Raider
  • cobra bite
  • python squeeze (I had a girlfriend in high school who loved snakes, and owned a python; that thing was my nemesis.)
  • nuclear blast/fallout
  • zombie bite
  • serial killer
  • shark attack
  • sharktopuss attack (An animal of my own invention, and not to be trifled with.)
  • cyanide in Tylenol
  • razor blade in apple
  • Tylenol in apple
  • cyanide in razor blade
  • apple doll (possessed, armed)
  • volcano
  • left for dead (with success)
  • bat
  • scorpion
  • poisoned soda
  • Mazinga
  • buried alive
  • karate'd to death
  • crazy advanced aging disease
  • bunk bed mishap
  • exploding pancakes
  • fatally mistaking switchblade knife for switchblade comb
  • drinking delicious-looking Dawn dishwashing detergent
  • jumped by tards
  • butterfly flapping its wings in Malaysia
  • uncomfortable shoes
  • curb job
  • c.h.u.d.-ism
  • balloon dick
  • mongrelism
  • dance-fight
  • herky jerky
  • nazis

It’s an amazingly romantic list, especially when compared to the list of ways I now presume I’ll die:

  • colon cancer

This entry was a birthday gift to myself.

WE FIRST MET ON 02.25.2005

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