Tuesday, June 12, 2012

That Which Does Not Kill Us Makes Us Laugh

            The recent experiences of two friends caused me to reflect on the truth of the above statement. One of those incidents involved falling headfirst into a trash cart. The other centered on a deathly combination of high heat and humidity, a blood donation, and an extremely constricting undergarment. (Hint: Rhymes with thanx.) 

            Hearing my friends’ stories brought to mind one of my own humorous, near-death experiences (yes, there have been others) which occurred on a vacation when I was fourteen. The three-day drive from Texas to central Oregon with six people in a Rambler station wagon was in and of itself a test of survival. But survive it we did and, after a couple of days rest, were pronounced fit enough to trek on over to the Oregon coast and visit the sand dunes.  

            When we arrived at the coast and I saw the beautiful, windswept dunes reaching gracefully for the sky, I was impressed. And when I saw people scurrying all over them like ants on an anthill, I decided dune running must be great fun. Five hundred people couldn’t be wrong.  

            I followed my two younger cousins—native Oregonians and veteran dune runners—up a steep ascent and took in the view from the summit. Funny how that anthill now seemed more like a mountain. A very tall mountain. I mumbled something about needing to catch my breath and encouraged my cousins to go ahead. I watched them make their way to the bottom with no problems. It didn’t appear to be particularly threatening. Surely, if they could do it, I could. I started my descent on a run. 

            What I hadn’t observed—and what no one had bothered to tell me—was that you don’t run straight down a seventy-degree incline. You zigzag. Twenty feet into my run, my arms were circling like windmill blades in a gale, and my legs were pumping at full capacity in an effort to catch up with my head. Thirty feet into my run, my life flashed before me and I hit the sand face first, coming to a stop only after completing three head-over-heel revolutions. 

            Lying flat on my back in the sand, all I wanted was to recover my breath and take an inventory of my body parts. See if they were all intact. But I didn’t do that. And I’ll bet you know what exactly what I did do. I sat up and looked around to see if anyone was watching.  

            OF COURSE, THEY WERE WATCHING! They probably hadn’t been that entertained since seeing The Flying Wallendas on the Ed Sullivan Show. Five hundred people, eyes wide, mouths agape, stared while I smiled and acted as if I did this sort of thing every day. Then I stood up and with great dignity wobbled to the bottom of the dune.  

            Once family members realized I wasn’t dead, they started laughing. They laughed on the drive back home from the coast; they laughed all the way to Texas. Weeks later, as I continued to remove sand from body orifices, they continued to laugh. In fact, just a few weeks ago, my sister said, “Remember the time you fell down the sand dune in Oregon?” and started chuckling. 

            Almost fifty years after that incident, she’s still laughing. And to prove my point, I’m alive and laughing as I write this post.    




  1. I can just see it--perhaps because it sounds like something I would do.

    I was in Panama City with my sister several years ago. We were floating peacefully on air mattresses in the gulf, when a big wave came and completely flipped my mattress upside down, sending me somersaulting underwater and slamming me headfirst into the sandy bottom of the gulf. I flipped and spiraled for what seemed like an eternity, and came up sputtering for air, grateful that I did not break my neck or drown. When I looked up at my sister, she was doubled over laughing so hard I am certain she peed in the water. She couldn't even talk for minutes afterward, and for the rest of the vacation, she would periodically look at me and burst out laughing. I'm glad my near-death was so amusing for her.

    1. Love it! Thanks for sharing, Nicci. I'm hoping I get to read some of more folks' experiences.

  2. I am wired so that any time I see a person fall, I laugh. Apparently, reading about it makes it hilarious. Thanks for the entertainment, Dee Dee!

    Every year I was in high school, I made a public tumble where anywhere from 100-300 people witnessed my fall. Have you ever seen penguins slide in on the tide? Yeah, well, I learned to do that onstage, on a gym floor, on concrete and UP stairs. I've got skills.

    But I'm still laughing at the sand dunes!


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