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Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by cometazzi, Sep 20, 2020.
What happens in the backstage stays in the backstage
I'm a storyteller. I love to tell stories. Some of them are even true.
Consequently, over the course of my life there's probably not much that I "have never gotten the chance to tell" regarding my experiences. But if you mean never gotten to tell here on TDPRI...
In 1986, I was living in the town of Wewak in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. One day a friend (David) got word that an old man named Kon Kon was gravely ill. He lived in a remote village of the banks of the Sepik River. David came and got me and we traveled in his Toyota 4-wheel drive for about four hours to the small town of Pagwi on the big river. There David stayed with his truck while I got a ride in a dugout canoe with Kon Kon's daughter and another relative to go retrieve Kon Kon and bring to town for medical help.
The dugout canoe was long and narrow, and they had a small outboard motor on it, so we made good time to the remote village. Once there, from the river up the bank was a distance of about five feet. A log was the only bridge between the water and the bank. The nationals climbed right out of the boat a walked right up the log. When I tried it, I slipped off the log and fell into the Sepik River. I sank into mud and silt up to my thighs.
I was embarrassed, but the villagers were shamed (shame culture). I felt like a clumsy oaf, but to them, they hadn't provided me sufficient access up to the bank of the river. So two old ladies hopped in and retrieved me, took me by the hands and walked me up the log to dry land. Once there they proceeded to wipe the mud off my legs. Of course, all of this just deepened my sense of embarrassment.
We then entered the hut where Kon Kon lay. It was late afternoon, but pretty dark inside the hut. It took a couple of minutes for my eyes to adjust. There was a small fire in the center of the hut, and the smoke stung my eyes and made it harder to see. I greeted the old man with the appropriate greeting (there are four distinct greetings in the Iatmul language that are time of day appropriate). Then his daughter Josepa fell upon her father, keening.
Soon we were all back down the bank to the dugout canoe. In that part of the world, you are two degrees off the Equator, and the sun sets very fast. We started back up the river, against the current, with that outboard motor propelling us. But just before full on dark, the motor stalled out. They had so trusted in the motor that they didn't bring a paddle in the canoe. As the guy tried to restart that motor, we were adrift on the Sepik River.
As this was happening, I looked ahead and noticed a curious sight. It looked like fog rolling in at the water's level. Then I realized it wasn't fog but a cloud of mosquitos! Just as I figured out what was coming, Josepa turned to me and said with an impish grin, "Ol bai kai kaim yu planti." Which loosely translated means "They're gonna eat you alive!"
And she wasn't wrong; those mosquitos loved white meat. I had left Wewak town wearing a tee shirt and khaki shorts. As those blood suckers descended upon me, I swept my hands over my arms and torso to drive away the mosquitos, then down to my legs and then back up again. When I finally got back home, I looked like I had the measles.
Fortunately, the young man was able to restart the motor, and we made our way back to Pagwi without further incident. All of us then loaded into David's truck and we drove back to Wewak.
As it turned out, Kon Kon was dying of cancer. I later visited him at the "hospital" (which wouldn't even qualify as a clinic by Western standards). He looked at me said, "I no gat marasin." In other words, they didn't have medicine to treat him. So he decided he wanted to go back to the village to die. I was there when they were moving him out to a waiting truck, but he went limp and the color left his eyes even as I watched.
Oh, and as a direct result of feeding the mosquitos on the Sepik River, I contracted malaria. I didn't go to the hospital or see anybody about it; I just suffered through it. Later that same year, I returned to Texas. And six months later I had another malarial outbreak in my bloodstream.
My doctor had no idea how to treat me for it. He had never seen a case before. He couldn't even confirm my "diagnosis." It's a bit disconcerting to watch your doctor pull books off of his shelf to try and figure out what you have and what do do about it. He finally sent my blood sample off to San Antonio, and an infectious disease specialist confirmed what I already knew. The doc then gave straight quinine for ten days. It turns out that a side effect of quinine can be tinnitus, and it happened to me.
So I've had tinnitus since the spring of 1987, but it has nothing to do with loud rock music and Marshall stacks. I've talked about my tinnitus before, so I've also talked before about the malaria and quinine as the reason behind it. But I think this is the first time I've told the whole story.
Well there was how my soon to be wife broken my front teeth... but it still embarrasses her.
When young, I toured globally with one of the great ballet companies... the stories I could tell... the diplomatic duties, royalty, palace & embassy parties.. and best of all being one of the few straight males jetting away from home for weeks on end staying in swanky hotels with 40+ nubile young women.
When in your early 20’s, nothing is as ego flattering as strolling arm in arm in a great capital city after a show with a whole bunch of female perfection then have them set the floor alight dancing at a club and then watch the other guys faces as you escort them all safely back to your hotel.
Interestingly I actually got more valentines cards under the door from the guys! i had the whole super fit mountaineer/climber vibe going on then. I would still let them buy me dinner and try it on to our mutual amusement.
From mid September, 2001 to late March, 2002, I did not set foot on dry land, and I only saw sunlight three times during the same period.
Arctic or sub?
Almost five years ago, I was involved in a three vehicle accident that took the life of my dear friend, Bill C.
Bill was T-boned by a red light running drunk driver, and Bill’s car was driven into mine.
Bill was killed, I got banged up, and the drunk didn’t get a scratch.
Bass player Bill and I had just finished our regular Friday gig.
We were both on our way home.
Bill was a few miles from his home, and I was about 30 from mine.
The experience haunts me.
Bill left behind a wife of thirty five years, two great kids, and three grandkids.
He never knew he was going to have a granddaughter.
He’d just retired from 30 years with the IRS.
Bill was kind, responsible, generous, and a wonderful song writer/bass player.
We played together for over thirty years, and recorded several projects together.
The drunk 21 year old was sentenced to 10 years.
I wonder if he’ll learn.
Sub. It was a mind numbing expedition, to say the least.
I saw Flo & Eddie in the 90's.
My parents and myself were on our way from Iowa to Little Rock, Arkansas to visit my sis and my brother-in-law who was stationed there in the USAF. This was about 1956 and I was 6 years old. The roads back then were very narrow and winding. There were no interstate highways between Little Rock and southern Iowa. Add to that, the narrow highways had curbs and a 70 mph speed limit. Perfect for today's 4 lane roads but not the very narrow 2 lane roads of the '50s. You'd kind of pucker when you met semi tractor/trailers on the narrow, winding roads.
Anyway, we were somewhere in the Missouri Ozarks and stopped at a small roadside Ma and Pa restaurant for a bite to eat. When we walked in a sign in the window said "Open", the lights were on, but there was no one around and the cash drawer was standing open, with no money inside. We surmised the place had just been robbed. My older brother said we needed to hightail it out of there or get caught up in this likely robbery. We did just that and never heard a word about it. On the way back the restaurant was closed and the lights were out. We made it to and from Little Rock with no other issues. Got to see Bagnell Dam and Bull Shoals Lake. Quite an adventure for a 6 y/o.
i hear they smell of farts and BO.
My God, I wouldn't dare.
I was maybe 8 and was reaching into the fridge for something to drink. A glass jar of tomato juice fell out and hit my foot and broke. My grandmother was standing there and all she saw was the broken glass and all the tomato juice flowing all over the place thinking it was blood from my foot. Needless to say she almost had a heart attack and I ended up with 3 stiches..
Bill, I almost feel guilty for clicking the "Like" button on your posted comment. If TDPRI had a "Sad" reaction option, I would have chosen that. I can't imagine how haunting that must be. As one who has enjoyed retirement and watching grandchildren grow up, your friend Bill had a lot to live for.
And there's a part of me that wants to be mad at the kid guilty of vehicular manslaughter, but I feel kind of sad for him at the same time. Not so much because he's in prison, but because he has to live with the consequences of what he did, and he'll have to live with that for the rest of his life. Hopefully he will learn.
I was never much of a drinker, but in my bad old days (back when I was in my teens) I drove impaired as a result of my smoking dope, and I caused a fender-bender. No one was hurt, but it could easily have been much worse. I thought of my own past as I thought of that now 26-year old serving time. There but for the grace of God...
When I was 14 or 15, I flipped our Farmall tractor over backwards and lived to tell about it. I had an old '51 Chevy we used to run around in the fields behind our house, and it was stuck in the mud. So my friend and I hooked up the tractor in order to pull it out. Note to self: DON'T hook the chain above the rear axle of the tractor. I let the clutch out and before I realized what was happening it was too late. I launched myself of the tractor seat and hit the ground running backwards. Then the tractor came right over and also hit the ground a couple feet in front of me. Then my buddy says "Uh, I gotta go home now, see you later."
My Dad was happy that I didn't die, but he wasn't too thrilled about the tractor lying upside down.
Only one of many occasions when my guardian angel was working overtime.
I also have some good Navy stories!
Not that long ago, I was in so much pain that I, well, soiled myself. I also have become accustomed to the full bedpan experience. I can't believe I'm talking about this. On the other hand, the thought of bedpans in my future doesn't bother me much. You can get used to anything.
One day in Chicago 30 years ago, one of my neighbors was accosted on the street by a crazy guy who wanted a hug from her. I came between them and started talking to her about something else. I guess I pulled him back, as he said, "Get your hands off of me." To which I replied "You get your hands off of me!" We were each grabbing the other and staring each other down. When it comes to stare-downs, I usually win, unless it's my cat. After I turned up the heat of my gaze, he released his grip and wandered off.
He may not learn. My friend lost his mother to a drunk driver 50 years ago. The drunk driver did a little time and got released. Just to go back to being the town drunk (driver). He lost his license a few times and it never stopped him from drinking and driving. I grew up with a guy who killed his best friend while drinking and driving. He still gets drunk and drives. I hope the killer of your friend learned his lesson. I’m sorry for your loss.
At the age of 18, I accidentally stabbed myself through the forearm.
One of the oddest feelings on earth is pulling a knife out of your body. (I don’t recommend it...)
The scar isn’t even big enough to be cool-looking.