I feel sorry for people who don't have kids. I really do. When kids are young, they're cute and cuddly. When they're older, they help you to see the same old hackneyed things in new and interesting ways. For example, my youngest recently stumbled on the fact that all politicians are assholes. And he's only 14! This generational continuity gives me great comfort, since at that exact age, I arrived at that very conclusion. Only back then, Richard Nixon was in the White House, and the war slaughtering thousands of young people was in another distant country I had previously never thought about.
But I digress. Back in July, just after the first big rain this year, me, my kids and some of their friends all headed down to Sabino Creek to look at the devastation. It was awesome. The creek had flooded its banks and washed out the local park while uprooting trees, barbed-wire fences, ongoing construction, bricks, blocks, sheds and picnic tables.
Really, I can't remember seeing anything quite like it, and I've been in this desert cornhole of a town for many years. Water is such an incredible force. I've seen cement picnic tables picked up in flash floods and broken like loaves of day-old French bread. I've tried to get my horse to ford Sabino Creek when it's flooding, and she has flatly refused. Life is so much safer when your pets are smarter than you are.
In any case, that July day, I admonished my eldest son, 18, and his friends, all wide-eyed and beyond stoked with excitement, to stay the hell away from the goddamned rushing water. A flooding Sabino Creek may look like the chilly Colorado, but it's chock full of fencing, auto parts, leftover rebar, patio furniture, tree branches, roots and the occasional dead animal.
They promised me they would, but I still had an uneasy feeling. Sort of like the feeling you get when, ah, well any time you're dealing with brainless teenage males: It's a fact of the animal. It's why they drive too fast, forget their condoms, join the Army and eat at Taco Bell. Eighteen-year-old males think they're invulnerable. The vulnerable ones? Well, they don't live to tell about it, do they?
But that day, I was in denial. Truth is, I live my whole life in denial. If I didn't, I'd go stark-raving mad. I actually left the creek that day having convinced myself these kids wouldn't be stupid enough to go in it.
Wrong again. And man, were they stoked when they came home. Covered in scratches from barbed wire and tree branches, bruised and battered, eyes glowing like they'd just discovered radium, my son and his friends regaled me with the tale of the journey on a raft, purchased at Target just that day. (They were planning on returning it to get their money back, claiming it was defective, since it now had a hole in the bottom, and they'd lost an oar.) Never mind the helicopters, police cars and media vans in pursuit; they completed their heroic journey in record time. I mean, if ever there had been a record, they were sure they had bested it and lived to tell the tale.
But what really gob-smacked me was that the next day, virtually every male I talked to, of whatever age--from my scientist husband, to the cowboy at the ranch, to the guy who cut my hair--said the same thing: "I would have done it." In fact, my horseshoer did me one better: He said he and his friend had done it back in the '70s, only at night, and one of them had fallen out of the boat.
He failed to mention whether they tried to return it for a full refund afterward. I don't think they even had Targets back then.
Yet humanity survives. And survives and survives. It's a fucking miracle.