I can think of a couple of times in my life when I thought for sure I was going to die. Off the top of my head, the first one involves me and two of my friends in a Honda Civic driven by my buddy’s mom. We were heading up to Michigan for a weekend of clandestine beer drinking and the like. It was winter and although the roads were clear, anyone who’s ever survived a Midwestern January knows that driving’s always a relatively sketchy deal when it’s snowy and in a place like Michigan, with notoriously underfunded municipal programs (like clearing snow and ice, for example) it’s doubly so.
So, we’re cruising down a 2 lane highway at about sixty miles per hour. I’m in the back seat. Suddenly, the car starts to fishtail pretty violently. My friend sitting shotgun turns to his mom and says “quit fucking around, mom!” at which point shit gets pretty hairy. The car locks at about a 25 degree angle and just starts hurtling towards the steep embankment on the side of the road. We hit right at the drivers side headlight and the car flipped completely so it landed back on its wheels facing the other direction.
The entire time I was absolutely positive I was gonna die. When we landed, it was dead silent until my friend sitting shotgun broke the silence, screaming “mom! You killed my car!” which is so monumentally hilarious and inappropriate that it goes down as one of the best things I’ve ever heard anyone say ever to this day. At that point I realized that I was covered in broken glass due to all the windows exploding and I asked if everyone felt okay and suggested that we should get out of the car because if we’d fucked up the integrity of the gas tank, we could potentially explode.
Keep in mind, I was sixteen and this seemed like the kind of thing that happened when cars flipped. I didn’t really know what I was talking about (obviously) but we all got out of the car and that was the moment where the veil dropped forever and we told our friend’s mom that we all smoked cigarettes, which was a surprisingly liberating ancillary result of the accident.
My buddy’s mom was understandably very upset and I’ve never seen anyone go from zero to absolutely shithoused as quickly as she did once the cops finally got us to their house. It was a real scene. She was dancing to the Stones, saying really inappropriate things, and gyrating in a way that was simultaneously unnerving and hilarious. I remember that I’d eaten Chicken McNuggets right before the whole thing went down. The only injury that any of the four of us sustained in the kickflip-180-in-the-Honda-civic fiasco wasn’t discovered until the next day when I took a shower and realized that I had a tic tac sized piece of glass lodged in my forearm.
Another time I thought I was gonna die we were coming back from a European tour and right as our plane was about to start its descent into Chicago, the turbulence went crazy. Now, I’m generally a bad flyer, so my move for dealing with things like turbulence is that I look at the stewardesses and try to gauge how much I think they’re pretending not to freak out. Well, we were in the very back of a large trans-atlantic plane, which is not only the most bumpy spot in a plane, but also right by the galley, so when the plane started shucking and jiving, I looked back in time to be comforted by the flight attendant screaming “Holy shit!” and all the plates and silverware breaking free of their restraints and scattering all over the aisles. From then on it was full blown panic. I was holding Neil’s and Chris’s hands and kind of crying/whining and I was not nearly the only person on the plane screaming and freaking out. In fact, when the plane landed, the number of barf bags that the stewardesses had to go around and retrieve was staggering. More shocking were the people who had literally shit their pants and needed to wait for the stewardesses to bring them blankets to tie around their waists in order to not offend the customs officials with their yellow and brown stained garments.
The walk off the plane was a slow and stinky reminder of the terrifying last 15 minutes of an otherwise benign flight. There were barf splashes and poo residue all over. Some people had straight up abandoned their pants, and well, it was grim, to say the least.
The other time I thought I was gonna die, I was drenched in mud in a forest in France with nothing in my pockets, about sixty miles from where everyone I knew was staying. The whole thing was terrifying and while there was no “car flipping” near death, I was sustainably terrified for a much longer time than I’ve ever been before or since. This story is WAY too long to go into, and it’s probably the most bizarre night of my life. I’ve hinted at it before, but I kind of feel like once I write about it, I’ll have nothing left, so I’m not gonna go there just yet. Suffice it to say though, shit was nuts. That was also the first time I ever saw anyone ask a cop if he knew where to get any heroin. It was a real scene, that snowy wood in france.
Okay, this baby is making a lot of noise and ignoring her isn’t working, so I gotta go. Toodles!