There are times that you tend to remember far better than you ever thought you could. For me, this was one of those times and I would love to share it with you.
It was hot, blazing hot, and our packs weighed heavy on our backs. We had been out in the wilderness for seven days, with nothing but what we had taken with in the backpacks. No buildings, no toilets, no chicks…it had been a long time since any form of civilization.
But today was the final day! After this we would be back, basking in the glory of fast, greasy food, luxuriously cushioned seats, and schoolwork! (Okay, some things we weren’t looking forward to.)
But that was still five miles away. We had been hiking since 5:00am, and had traversed eleven miles already. The camp was barely in sight, but we still had five miles to go! It was starting to drive some of us slightly berserk.
“Stop it!” Dale yelled at me.
“Breathing! Cut it out, will ya!”
As confused as I was why he would turn on me when his own breathing was horrendous, (gasping in, then gasping out, heaving with each breath, not to mention the slobber drooling from his cracked lips) I cordially ceased inhaling. Shortly after, I passed out.
I woke up with the hope that my buddies would have carried me the rest of the way, but did they? No. Instead they thought it would be a good idea to slap my face until I woke up. Selfish imps.
“I can see that things are starting to deteriorate,” Bryon said, as he continue to slap my face giddily, despite my cries of “I’m awake!” and “You’re dead to me!”
“Let me tell you all a story,” he said as I leaped to my feet, helped by my friend Dale. “It’ll help pass the time.”
A sour feeling, almost a premonition, passed over me. I knew I should have said something, but unfortunately all my doubts about Bryon’s stories had been lulled in the back of my mind by all his other bad decisions over the last several days. (The following story is that tale, shortened, censored, and made comprehensible by yours truly.)
“Once there was a boy whose parents loved him very much. Maybe. Okay, at least a little. Maybe more than a little…”
“Get on with it!”
“…and he didn’t say a word to his parents until his seventh birthday. On that day, he asked for a pink ping pong ball. His parents didn’t know why, but it seemed to make him happy, so they did.”
“After that he didn’t say another word for five years, until his twelfth birthday, when he asked for a case of pink ping pong balls. His parents didn’t know why they shouldn’t, since he had been so good, so they got the balls for him. As soon as he got them, he mailed them off to somewhere, but his parents couldn’t find out where.”
“This went on for years, and he’d always ask for more pink ping pong balls, then he’d ship them off. His parents asked, pleaded and begged him to tell them where, but it was no use.”
“Finally, on his twenty-first birthday, he asked for a ping pong ball factory. Because he hadn’t shown interest in anything else throughout his life, his parents took out a mortgage on their house and bought him one. All day, every day, he would sit in the factory, making thousands and thousands of pink ping pong balls, and then he would send them off by the shipload to somewhere.”
“At last, when he had turned fifty, there was an explosion at the factory. His parents heard it from their house and ran as fast as they could towards it. When they arrived, pink plastic was everywhere. Their son was lying on his back, his arm burned by the hot plastic, and his legs blown off by the explosion.”
“Weakly, he motioned for his parents to kneel down by him. As they did so he gasped, ‘The ping pong balls…the pink ping pong balls. I sent them to…Blah!’ And he died.”
Eagerly, we waited for the punchline. Confused, Bryon looked at us saying, “That’s it.”
We could have strangled him. That story had no purpose, no reason for existing and had wasted 30 min of our lives! It kind of reminds me of this post.
But Bryon’s story did pass the time, because we were almost back to civilization and bison burgers! And that is the only reason he is still alive today. (See why it’s a story of survival? Sideways, winky face!)