2018-10-12 / Commentary

The Key to Senility

40–Something

Last Friday I almost became the first human being to die of thirst in his own neighborhood. A series of mistakes, missteps, and possibly my own impending senility led to this near tragedy.

My first mistake was deciding to run in the afternoon instead of the morning. I should have known better because it’s Columbia, the “Famously Hot” city. I thought it’d be a little cooler in the afternoon. After all, it was October. I was wrong... very wrong. It was 95 degrees and about 250 percent humidity.

My next mistake? I decided to run anyway.

Sure, I had multiple issues jogging... in Hell , but there wasn’t anything a nice long shower, several large Gatorades, a couple of Advil, and some air conditioning couldn’t fix.

Unfortunately, I found out it was going to be a while before I got any of those luxuries, because as I dragged myself down my driveway and reached into my pocket to grab my house key, I realized my next mistake. There was nothing in my pocket but a sweat soaked dust bunny.

Panic ensued. I became even more aware of my impending dehydration, and I suddenly wished I knew my neighbors better. If I did, I could have just gone to a buddy’s house, had a few beers, and laughed about the whole thing as I waited for the wife to return home from the Upstate.

Instead, the genius in me decided the only way to remedy this situation was to find my key, and the only way to do that was my biggest mistake: retrace my route...all five miles of it.

So I started walking with my head down to scan every stupid inch of asphalt I had previously jogged.

About a mile in as the dust built up in my throat, it occurred to me I could have easily gotten some water out of the hose at my house before I started this little quest.

Needless to say, I didn’t present a pretty picture. I was already dripping sweat verging on complete dehydration. My head was down scanning the ground, and I was letting expletives fly every time I mistook a crinkly leaf or random coin for my house key. I also looked like I was casing cars parked on the street as I searched for my key underneath them.

To make matters worse, my back felt like someone was jabbing a knife between my shoulder blades. The only way to ease the pain was to stand up completely straight and cock my shoulders back as far as possible. This made me look like I was bowing up for a fight when I was already “suspect-stalker-walker-guy” checking out neighborhood Volvos.

The good news was that after four miles of this frantic searching, the heat finally relented. The bad news was it was cooling off because it was getting dark. I couldn’t even see my hallucinations.

I gave up the search and called my wife. I told her she’d have to get home soon or get me an ambulance. After that humiliating conversation, I somehow managed to crawl back to my house. I went to the door in hopes I had left it unlocked and suddenly fell to my knees like I had just discovered the Holy Grail. There before me was my key sitting in the dead bolt...right where I had left it.

Frankly, I was too darn happy to condemn myself for such a boneheaded move. That condemnation would come much later when I would share my exploits with the family.

I have to say this aging thing isn’t for the weak of spirit.

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