Remember how I said that my brother Danny and I are a little too hardy for own good? That we trump common sense with our own pain tolerance and general resistance to lasting damage? I'll get to that in a moment.
Let me start, though, with telling you the truth about Deliverance. You know what movie I am talking about. It was a 70's movie best remembered for a couple of things. One involves "squealing like a pig" and the other involves lots of foul language getting shown. It was gritty and life like. It was shot "naturalistically" (not to be confused with "surrounded by buttloads of nature" which it was, as well). Now, if you didn't get that "squealing like a pig" reference, you might want to go see it or at least Google it or something. It's not central to this story, but it does help you to see where I am going.
As I figure it, Deliverance was either made by a group of Southerners trying to keep people out, or it was made by someone in New York who doesn't know what a tree is (and yeah, I know I can look it up, but who cares to? it is funnier this way). Because a little known piece of trivia about Deliverance is the fact that it scares the utter bejeezus out of Southerners. We don't want to get Ned-Beattied while out wandering around. We are not sure what part of the South those guys are from, but we don't want to be there. Most of us sit around and stare at our neighbors and ask "Is he the one?". This includes those of us who grew up in real rednecky or swampratty places. We were nervous about who might be out there, since the movie clearly showed someone was out there that acted like that.
I'll go ahead and spoil it for you. There ain't no one out there along the banks of muddy Southern rivers (unless it is the Mississippi or maybe the Tennessee). There are miles of weeds, miles of mud, yards of alligators, and the occasional bridge (but never any cars). You might see signs that some fisherman came down to fish sometime in the past fifteen years, but these are going to be rare, and possibly a coincidence. Alabama rivers are especially bad. They are so lonely fish tend to hate hanging around them, for fear of depression. If there was some sort of species of randy redneck looking for a city boy's bum to pound, I am sure he dried up years ago from lack of things to do.
This is why my brother Danny (see, bet you thought I forgot about us) and I decided one day that it might be fun to raft down stream. Except we didn't have any rafts. We had the Sepulga (a "river" only about twenty or so feet across and occassionaly so shallow as to essentially stop and magically start reflowing a few feet on down). We had flood waters due to Alabama summer rains. We had an afternoon to kill. So, well, we unrafted right on down an overfilled river along with all the flotsam and jetsam that a man could stand.
I think it started with us just wanting to see if I could walk across a flooded river. Or something. I don't know why ideas like this come to us. They just do. We ended up a football field or so downriver from the bank we set out from, and decided "what the heck" and just kept on going. Now, this is no Stand By Me kind of moment. While there were life lessons, there were no bonding moments. There were no dead bodies. There was no River Phoenix and there was no Stephen King cameos. I did nearly get drowned by my dog who thought the best place to rest while swimming was on my head. But that's about all. On to the life lessons.
The first life lesson was leeches. And that is all that needs to be said about that.
The second one is that being able to float on your back as good as I can is curse. The curse part comes when the water gets to going nice and rapidly fast, and I am on my back and all happy. Then, there is this sharp rock that would be out of the water and standing tall on most days but now is just enough under water so that the only part of my body that gets that low is the top tip of my buttocks. And well, I'll sum up life lesson number two as "I broke my coccyx".
Life lesson number three could best be said as "leeches will swim after you if you just peel them off", but again, that is all that needs to be said about that.
Life lesson number four has to do with alligators and swimming with them. I remember panicking but I don't recall dying. I guess it is just something along the lines of "not so bad as long as they don't eat you or your dog, which I suppose they didn't".
Life lesson number five is that Danny and I tend to come out of said situations pretty much ok, but tired.
But finally, life lesson number six. If you spend some hours floating downstream after days of summer rains and get all tired...just wait until you have to walk back through Alabama mud and forests. Sweet Jesus have mercy.
And not one person told me that I "shore did have a purty mouth."
Written by W Doug Bolden
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