Thursday, September 12, 2013

Quicksand! Dang, Now We Are In Trouble.

Growing up I thought quicksand was going to be a much bigger problem than it turned out to be.

OK, I totally stole that line from an ecard thingy my girlfriend posted on the facebook, but truthfully, I was fascinated and terrified of quicksand as a kid. It took up a large part of my fears - probably a smaller part than getting eaten by a shark (we lived in Mississippi. The chances were pretty slim.), but still something to look out for.

It seems a large portion of entertainment geared towards kids had people sinking slowly into quicksand, generally British explorers puffing on pipes and uttering something like, "Oh, bother." Quicksand was everywhere in cartoons and old movies - if you were outside, chances were pretty good, at least according to TV, there was a pit of quicksand just waiting for you to fall into.

These old movies also taught me that gorillas and skeletons were somehow the most terrifying things ever back in the old days, but that's another story.

I asked my parents what quicksand was exactly, and they told me it was just water and sand. TV was right! The stuff was all over the place.

A few months later, I had an enemy. I can't remember exactly why we were enemies, just the usual little kid stuff, I suppose.

Wait! I remember! He totally called bullshit on my cyborg story.

See, during this time, "The Six Million Dollar Man" was was a popular television show. The hero was an astronaut who almost died until the government implanted super-strong robotics in him so he could solve crimes and beat up Bigfoot.

Cashing in on that popularity, I had half-convinced a group of kids that I too, had robotics in my arm. Luckily, nobody asked me to lift anything heavier than my 6 year old muscles could handle. Maybe there just wasn't anything heavy enough for me to lift to impress them with, or maybe I got out of it because, hey, kids are dumb.

But this one kid wasn't buying it. He wanted proof. I explained that peeling back the fake skin on my arm and revealing my circuitry would cause an explosion that would kill us all, but he was skeptical. Worse, I could see the other kids were losing faith in my robotics, also.

I don't recall how I got out of my lie, maybe my timing was right and everyone had to go home to eat before I had to whip out my circuitry, but I could sense that the crowd had turned against me.

I couldn't eat my dinner that night. Who the hell did that kid think he was, ruining my story and calling me a liar? The nerve! And he turned all my other friends against me! How dare he slander me like that! I had to get back at him, but how?

I had the answer. Quicksand.

I was able to get out after dinner and run to the back of his apartment building. There was a sandbox outside. I set a hose into the box and turned on the water.

I got the quicksand to a good consistency then went home in the dusk, secure in the knowledge that I was gonna make that kid pay for doubting me. Like a mini Walter White, my enemies would perish due to my knowledge of science.

I had trouble sleeping that night. What if that kid didn't know not to struggle against the quicksand and drowned? There were only about 7 inches of the stuff, but who knows how powerful quicksand is? Maybe it ate a hole in the bottom of the sandbox or something.

What if some other kid went in the sandbox? What if a baby crawled in there? I only wanted to punish my rival for his slander, not kill any innocent babies. And I didn't even really want to kill that kid, just sort of punish him a little. I might have gone a little overboard with my revenge.

My stomach was really churning now, but it was too late for me to go back and fix my trap. All night I was haunted by thoughts of innocent people drowning in my quicksand trap. One after another, they all fell in - a mailman, my parents, my sister, my teacher, friends - who knows how many people would die before the sun came up and I could fix things?

As soon as I could make an excuse to get out of the house, I ran over to the sandbox. In the light of the day, my quicksand trap didn't look all that lethal. In fact, it looked like a bunch of wet sand in a plastic sandbox. I might have poked around just to be sure there were no babies trapped in there, but everything seemed OK.

Walking home I reflected on the beauty of human life, the futility of revenge, and more importantly, the importance of always being honest in storytelling. This was going to be a new start.

OK, not really. I was like 6 or 7 years old. I had a lifetime of revenge fantasies, lies, and exaggerations to go. But I did learn a vital lesson. If called on my bullshit, I could totally whip up some quicksand.

P.S. When doing a Google image search for British explorer in quicksand, about half of the images were cartoons of scantily clad ladies up to their chests in quicksand. You people are weird.

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