Whiling away an afternoon on the patio of my favorite bistro was quite pleasant, right up until the moment a passing waitress tripped and spilled a pitcher of ice water onto my laptop. The ensuing smoke and black screen of death told me that I was once again going to have to blindly rely on the geek speaking kindness of seventeen year old strangers to get my computer resuscitated. I've never been good with technology. Come to think of it, I've also never been good with water. I don't even like to drink the stuff. It's probably because I've almost drowned twice in my life. And there was no alcohol involved either time. There was stupidity involved, but no alcohol.
The first time I was seven. I couldn't swim, but I had a friend who could, and he convinced me to float out with him into Lake Michigan on a log. The lake was choppy and we drifted against some rocks. I got trapped under the log against the rocks. I was rescued just as everything got sparkly and angels started singing. Then there was an ambulance, lots of doctors, a stay in the hospital, and bowls and bowls of strawberry ice cream. To this day I can't eat strawberry ice cream without smelling antiseptic.
The second time was about six months ago, and it happened because of my love of architecture. I love gargoyles. I've photographed hundreds of them throughout the country. I never go anywhere without a camera in case I run across an interesting old building hunkered down hiding itself from the eyes of a lustful wrecking crew just itching to tear it down and build a Starbucks or a Subway. It seems like there's one of those on every corner these days, sometimes even on opposite corners, so that you never have to go more than fifty feet in any direction without the possibility of bacon or caffeine.
But I digress….
I was telling you about the second time I almost drowned. I was near another lake. This one was mostly frozen because it was winter. I was trying to get a really spectacular gargoyle in frame while backing up slowly and zooming in and out. Well, apparently I backed too far and backed myself right off the edge of the boardwalk and right into the lake. Luckily my camera strap got caught on the piling and I was able to hang on to it. Unluckily I was alone in a frozen lake with no purchase for my scrambling feet.
I had gone numb by the time two young Swedish girls found me hanging from the piling with only my nose and eyes above the water. The girls were touring with a group of nuns looking at old churches in the area. They shouted for help and the nuns came running. Several of the girls had phones and called 911. Unfortunately the phones were also camera phones. The girls did a great job filming the rescue and lots of people have enjoyed watching me being pulled from the frozen lake by a paramedic and two nuns in full habits on YouTube. The last time I checked the video had 290,000 hits.
The thing that makes it popular?
My clothes froze and stuck to the piling and the paramedic had to cut them off of me to free me. Did I mention that I was blue by that time? Did I also mention my name? Let me introduce myself. My name is Harold Ball. The caption for the YouTube video?
Nude, Blue, Harry Ball Handled by Nuns.
I'll never live it down.