The 9 Lives Theory
1969 was not a good year for me in truth, nor for my parents. Yesterday you read about Splat!!Well that story is one of three that centre round 1969. You see l was always clumsy, l still am, albeit not as much as l used to be. Suze sometimes refers to me ‘reticent and unadventurous’, but l feel if she lived my life and stood in my shoes, she may feel slightly differently! She may even come to understand why l don’t take half the risks or even a quarter that l used to take.
When l was younger and by this l mean till around 50, which is only five years ago, l was still taking risks and doing stupid things. I don’t do it anymore and in some ways my Aspergerian mind creates an overthink. Most of us on the spectrum do just that – we overthink hence why we are usually so damn anxious and stress filled.
So these days, someone suggests something and l tend to think so far out of the box it is better to simply say ‘not yet’ till l take in the bigger picture. I do that based on my accidental behaviour.
Examples of proposed adventures …
Bungee Jumping is met with “Are you fucking insane?? My rope would break!”
Parachuting is met with “Are you fucking insane, WHY would anyone want to jump out of a perfectly stable plane that is NOT crashing? My chute would fail to open!”
Swimming with sharks is met with “You seriously want me to even answer that??”
So Suze now thinks l am unadventurous because of these three and many others. Would l have tried these things before? Yes of course, l didn’t break three ribs water skiing because l didn’t try it, l broke them because it went wrong, l didn’t shred my kneecaps because l didn’t try motorcross, they were shredded because the bike wouldn’t stop and l hit a barbed wire fence at 20 mph! I didn’t break my collar bone because l didn’t enjoy climbing trees, you get where l am coming from yes? I used to ride horses on a regular basis until one day Blazer decided she was a Hunter and took off at 90 mph across a freshly baked and ploughed field and threw me off and l swallowed the field and lost three teeth.
These things don’t happen to me because l am not doing them, they happen, because l am doing them. So l decided that l must think things through properly and that takes me a while, the debate is there for a reason, the one question l ask is ‘If l do this will l live?” That’s not a rhetorical question, that is an actuality question, l don’t mean woot woot, what a rush, l mean, fuck will l die doing this?
When l was younger and say much younger than 50, l wasn’t really scared of anything – don’t misinterpret that as the thing the nutter says, l have been scared of three things in my entire life :
1] My Father – from young to 40 years of age – he terrified me until l faced up to him on my 40th.
2] My own mind and my mental health – afterall l have 26 suicide attempts to my name – which thankfully have failed, the last attempt was 2008.
3] Dying before Scrappy – l know she is an old dog, but l want to see her live her life as she and l are the last pack members. Dying before Suze – having waited all my life to meet the right woman, l don’t wish to die before l get to enjoy life with her.
Out of the three l have defeated 2/3rds – however the last one has become more of a concern for me in recent times, because they are currently looking for signs of Lung Cancer in my investigations to my current problems, and whilst l don’t think that is the issue, it does mean that you stop and look reflectively on your life. I was a heavy smoker for 35 years and only gave up because my lungs are badly scarred in 2015. But l started smoking again in August 2017 to cope with stress, so you might see why this is on my mind.
However, that aside the point is that l wasn’t always this hesitant about trying new things, l would do anything for a new rush. This behaviour of mine was with me from a young age and most notably was seen to be true when l was around five years of age and collecting Red Backed spiders.
My parents always told me when l lived Malaysia that l had to do certain things, l had to dress a certain way, l had to always take my malaria tablets, l had to sleep with a mosquito net, l had to have the evil foul smelling coil burning to keep death away, l had to eat certain things, l had to drink water all the time and the list went on and on, but one of the things l had to do was ALWAYS wear sensible footwear.
Don’t ask, Mum was a wizard or something – but here is ‘sensible footwear’.
Back then, l owned three pairs of shoes only, one for school, one for sports and one for everything else. The footwear for everything else were my thongs, what most of y’all probably know better as flip-flops. You see even on the beach you had to wear your thongs. Barefoot was only really allowed in the house and maybe downstairs in the amah’s quarters, but NEVER were you allowed to be barefoot anywhere else.
Thongs on the beach!
Not once, well tell a lie, okay … before the NOT ONCE, l had never not worn my thongs on the beach, because of the nasties lurking there. However there is always a once for everything in everyone’s lives , you know?
To celebrate my recovery from the boils which was a pretty damn painful experience as well as ‘near death’, as a family we all went walking on the beach one night. The beaches in Malaysia were really quite pretty, and the sunsets well, they were just absolutely vibrantly fantastic. I have said this before, but these photos don’t do them a great deal of justice but they were truly works of beauty. It was a nice time to simply stroll along and pick up shells, and just chill out once the heat of the day had burned away.
I don’t know what possessed me, quite possibly the thought of ‘What happens if l do this? Attitude maybe. But l took off my thongs and walked in the gentle surf and was really enjoying it until l felt the slightest of sharp pains underneath my right toe. So l quickly put on my thongs again and went to run off to my parents who were about fifty foot in front of me, when suddenly l felt really odd, real sluggish and my body felt like it was no longer mine. I looked down and OH NO, there was blood everywhere, my right foot was covered, my ankle was covered because of the wash of the surf and l couldn’t see my thong properly.
I managed to let out one single scream and then … well life became really strange and even odder as l collapsed to the sand. In the few minutes before everything went black, l recall seeing my parents scared faces, hearing my Mother screaming, seeing some some of the Malays from the kampung, seeing my Sister getting smaller then my eyesight failing, and suddenly l couldn’t feel anything, l was struggling for breath and then l blacked out.
Once more l awoke a few days later to almost the same sight l had seen earlier that year, my parents sitting by the bed, and one of the RAAF doctors looking at my charts! Upon seeing my eyes open, l do remember Dr Savage saying this in his broad rugged Australian accent “G’day sporto, back with us eh? Thought we were going to lose you this time, well pretty much like the last time and of course the time before that! Not really your parent’s year is it mate? Tell me Rory do you have a deathwish or are you just keen to test the 9 lives theory?
Apparently – MY LUCK – had decided that it was time to test out the spines of a sunken Fahaka Puffer – the notorious Puffer Fish – lying beneath the sand, and thankfully l had only really made contact with a few of the spines which had punctured the underside of my big toe and in so doing the fish had poisoned me with tetrodotoxin which just happens to be one of the deadliest poisons in nature.
After l had blacked out, my Father had picked me up and ran to the base which was astonishing, but certainly shows the level of his fitness back then for sure. Luck was on my side, the hospital had all the necessary treatment there as they had had a spell of puffer fish poisonings on the locals and so l was treated very quickly indeed, but it was a touch and go time, as l very nearly didn’t make it, as l had already gone into respiratory failure when he arrived at the hospital.
What can one say to that – better luck next time or is my lucky day the terminology l am looking for?
You may know of this fish better as the Asian delicacy served in some types of sushi and sashimi, where the eaters of this cuisine deliberately eat it.
I don’t know if the 9 Lives Theory holds any water to it in truth, because in Malaysia alone in 1969 l nearly lost my life three times, which would leave six right? Well at the last count of near death experiences l numbered 34!
The third installment of 1969 will be tomorrow.
Oh yes, last note here … sometime ago, someone asked me if l would care to try Fugu which is the name for Puffer Fish sushi and l did debate it , but figured luck may not be on my side a second time with this species, so gratefully declined, and ate a penis instead!