I’ve always lived in a certain kind of fear when I’m out in the wilds of wherever we all go to vacate and recreate — the dread that I’m going to be killed while I’m on vacation. Every year, you know, there is at least one such obituary in the paper.
“Executive killed on vacation,” says the headline, which then goes on to state, in appropriately somber tones, how Arnold Koznopis, executive vice president of Suchandsuch Corporation, was eaten by a shark while snorkeling two feet from shore, or fell from a great height while snowboarding for the first time, or hit his head on a pumpkin, or like that. “Gee,” I think to myself, “That could easily be me.” All of which leads me to be careful when I’m off the grid and out of town.
I was therefore pleased and delighted to meet the little man who is the subject of this story at a bar in Maui, carefully enjoying a cocktail. I thought I recognized him right off, I just wasn’t quite sure why. “Having a good time?” I asked him.
“Actually, it’s been sort of tough,” said the little man, his featureless, bulbous head bobbing back and forth under the influence of the gigantic Mai Tai he was weilding. He looked like he wanted to hold forth, so I just sat back and let him. Throughout his little chat, he showed me some of the snapshots that he said his wife had taken of him during his vacation. I’ll share those with you as well. You may recognize them.
“Well,” he said, leaning back and coming breathtakingly close to falling from his bar stool, “It all started about two weeks ago, when I got off the plane from LA and hit Waikiki. I figured I would take a swim in the ocean and dove in headfirst from the pier. How should I have known there were rocks underneath there? Here I am about to smash my arm! How do I look?”
He looked okay to me, considering.
“After that,” he continued, “I figured I would go for a swim. That’s me on the left, doing fine… and then, you know… afterwards I needed a little help. See me waving?”
I did indeed.
“On the way into shore,” he said sadly, “I seem to have stubbed my toe on something under the water. I wish I had been warned.”
“I was okay, though, until that boat and surf board came along and clocked me.
“Then, on my way back to my room, what do you know? Along came a flash flood that knocked me off my feet and hurled me high into the air! I seem to have lost my feet entirely, as a matter of fact! Where could I have left them?
“I said to myself, look, pal, you’d better stay out of the water, entirely! So what d’you think happens then? Out of nowhere the ground beneath me just kinda gives way and pow! I’m plummeting to my death. And where did my hands go?
I have no idea!”
“No sooner did I hit the beach then along comes this incredible wave with sharp stuff coming out of it and I’m down on my butt again!
I’m asking myself, what’s going on? I mean, why is all this happening to me?””Then before I can even get back on my ankles, because that’s all that seems to be left at the ends of my legs, for some reason, I’m picked up by another wave and tossed like a sea monkey up against this very sharp and painful wall….
… after which I nearly kill myself on some rocks that just, like, cropped up out of nowhere underneath the surf!
“The riptide is vicious! I’m dragged out to sea!
“There’s no ground beneath my feet at all! I think all is lost!
It’s a sudden drop off! I’ve heard about those! Why didn’t anybody warn me?””Finally, I get out of there and on my way back to this bar, there I go again! I guess I didn’t walk slowly enough?”
The little man with the very round head looked at me and leaned in conspiratorily. “I just think it’s great that my wife is along to take these pictures of our vacation,” he said, waving to a small, virtually featureless woman who was even then coming out of the Restrooms with a digital camera around the space where her neck should have been. “She says there might be some kind of commercial use for them.”
The little guy then leaped to his stumps and hopped across the room with elan, stopping at the Men’s room. I asked him if he was going to be okay in there. “Sure!” he said. “What could happen to me in here?” he said, giving me a merry wave of the wrist.
I finished my drink in silence, thinking there are worse things than going back to the office. So that’s what I just did.