Monday, 26 January 2009

A story in three clichés

This picture reminds me of a small story which I will tell in three clichés.

(photo by Lorenzodom)

Cliché number one

When I was a little boy I was obsessed with "survival" stuff. Like many boys my age I had manuals on making fire, knots, improvising shelter, catching food etc. I was geeky in the extreme about it. I had hand-drawn charts of survival expectations (in days) as a function of ambient temperature and availability of drinking water. I also had a little box that contained survival gear: compass, fishing line and hooks, matches encased in wax, plastic sheeting, a knife, the manual. In the eventuality that I should need to survive, I would be well prepared.

The opportunity to test my skills came sooner than I had thought.

Cliché number two:

As the son of Italian immigrants who had had no formal education it was very important, no, it was imperative, that my sister and I do well at school.

One day I got the worst grade in a maths exam that I had ever received. I got the bottom mark. Not only had this never happened before, but I was certain that my life was worthless and I would probably be exposed to fallout akin to that present some milliseconds after the big bang, just as soon as I got home and told my parents about it. I was toast.

There was only one thing for it. I could not go home, so I quickly consulted with my best friend and we agreed that the best option would be to run away from home. We knew the theory of survival in the wilderness off by heart. Trouble was, our knowledge pertained to survival in the widerness and I lived in a large city. I had also left my trusted survival box at home (where else). Never mind. After school we would start our new life.

We started, as runaways do, by sheltering under a bridge, and discussed how our knowledge of survival theory should best be translated into practice. Fire, Shelter, Food.

We gathered some feathers, twigs and paper and made a fire underneath the bridge. We didn't need to catch any food as we had an apple! So we roasted the apple, but that took too long so we ate it raw, just a little bit warm on the outside. Still hungry we were a bit at a loss as to what to do next and after several hours in the cold and the prospect of sleeping under a windy bridge I thought that I'd better let my parents know that I had run away, lest they worry about me.

I found a telephone box, called home and announced to a very very worried mother:

"Hi, It's me. I've run away!"

(Relieved to hear my voice, and feigning calm ) "Why, sweetie?"

"I got the bottom grade in maths. You'll be mad at me."

"Where are you living?"

"Under the bridge by the river. I've made a fire and cooked an apple."

"Are you still hungry?"


Cliché number three:

"Come home to your Mamma. I've made Pizza!"

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