It was my Dad’s birthday today and we did our customary thing of all going out for dinner, according to our ancient family tradition.
Other families have rich cultures that span back hundreds of years, they wear special outfits and play traditional music and dance traditional dances and eat traditional food.
But us? We go out for dinner. We don’t care where, as long as the food’s nice and expensive and the service is brisk and impersonal.
We don’t have any kind of heritage, but these days, who does? I’ve never seen anyone all kitted up in their traditional garb unless it’s at some festival or other and to be honest, I always thought they look a bit retarded.
In the globalised world of tomorrow we will all worship film stars and traditional food will be served 24/7 at McDonalds, and it will be full to the brim of Ecoli, which comes from shit, nom nom nom.
Now J-Rab’s reading this over my shoulder and telling me that I’ve already done the whole ‘my family has no tradition’ diatribe and that all my readers are gonna remember from the time before and think that I have a ratty memory.
Problem is I think you need to actually have readers in the first place for that to happen.
Now she’s tickling me incessantly and making funny squeaking noises and I’m laughing like a bastard
But anyway, at dinner this evening my Mom was telling us how she saw this show about airplane accidents (she watches shows like this for the express purpose of fuelling her already plentiful reserves of general paranoia) and what happened with this one plane was that the pilot undid his seatbelt!
(This is how she tells stories. She inserts pregnant pauses mid story to try and build up the suspense while an ad break plays in her head).
And the next thing you know! The entire windshield in front of him was sucked out in a tremendous BANG! And soon afterwards, he followed too!
The story is actually pretty cool because the guy survived. His foot got hooked somehow and he flapped around outside the plane for 14 minutes before they managed to pull him back inside. But get this, the temperature outside the plane at that altitude was minus 20 fucking degrees!
Later on, they discovered the windshield malfunctioned like that because there was a screw that had been made according to incorrect specifications.
It was 2mm too short, and it nearly cost that pilot and everyone else in the plane their lives.
A terrible thing happened at the park where J-Rab worked up until Wednesday last week. It’s a small zoo and they have everything there from Ocelots to Servals to the big guns, Lions and Tigers.
Anyway, behind the part that is accessible to the public, there are a few more enclosures with Tigers and Lions which are kept off exhibit so that they can breed in peace, without visitors filming them and putting it on YouTube.
On Sunday afternoon, Vicky, an intern from Belgium was chilling in off exhibit with a guy that volunteers at the zoo every weekend and knows the animals well.
At least he thought he knew the animals well.
Tequila is a 4 year-old lioness who J-Rab describes as a ‘poor, angry, caged wild animal’ and who lives in off exhibit with her mate, Chaos.
The dude who volunteers and Vicky were petting the lions through the enclosure fence, something I myself have even done before, when Tequila decided ‘fuck this’.
She bit down on Vicky’s hand and pulled her arm through the fence up to Vicky’s shoulder.
Tequila then got a hold of Vicky’s arm, this time much higher up, and did her level best to try and tear it from Vicky’s body.
By the grace of whatever powers might be, Tequila eventually let go of Vicky’s arm, but the damage was severe. Vicky collapsed on the ground with a broken collar bone, a broken humerus and enough tissue and muscle damage to her arm that the doctors were saying yesterday it’s doubtful if she’ll ever be able to use it again.
In the car on the way to the hospital, Vicky nearly died twice, but luckily one of the other girls there knew basic first aid and was able to keep Vicky alive.
After the doctors examined the damage, they discovered that the reason Vicky didn’t die outright from the mauling was that Tequila had just missed Vicky’s artery.
It was 2mm. 2mm closer and her artery would have been torn open and she would have bled out in the car on the way to the hospital.
And that really is the thickness of the barrier between this life and the next and in some cases it’s even thinner.
It shouldn’t have to be so extreme, but until you’ve nearly died, you have no idea how lucky you are. Life doesn’t owe us jack-shit, but we owe everything, everything to life and while it might be difficult and shitty at times, it’s also the best thing we’ve ever known.
And if that isn’t worth fighting for, I honestly don’t know what is.