Friday, May 7, 2010




1 : poison
2 a : to excite or stupefy by alcohol or a drug especially to the point where physical and mental control is markedly diminished b : to excite or elate to the point of enthusiasm or frenzy

When my older brothers were sixteen they got their first junker car in a series of many. One day (I was probably 8 or 9) I lingered nearby while my brother Heath poured coolant into the radiator.

"What's that?" I asked.

"It's antifreeze," my brother said. I leaned in for a closer look. "Don't touch it—it's totally poisonous," he elbowed me out of the way.

When he finished he walked back into the house, leaving the car's hood open. A glowing drop of antifreeze hovered around the radiator's mouth. I stared at it. For an instant, my brain must have shut off—I reached out, ran my finger through the drop and shoved it into my mouth. And then I panicked.

I ran into the house screaming, "I'm going to die!" My grandma casually asked me what happened. I just kept screaming that I was going to die. She walked me into the kitchen and filled up a small glass of water while I spit into the sink.

"Here drink this," she said. I swallowed the water in one big gulp. "Feel better?" I nodded.

"See?" she said, "water cures everything."


This is one of those weird anecdotes that sticks out in my mind for many reasons:

1) I ate antifreeze. I don't remember the taste, but had I ingested a greater amount, I could have possible become INTOXICATED in the very traditional sense.

2) My grandmother didn't ask me why I thought I was going to die, she merely gave me a glass of water and then announced: water cures everything. This was not the first or last time she used this reasoning, although later in life, when I became more of a smart ass, I would retort: Oh yeah? Well what if I was drowning. Then what?

3) My faculties really did seem to shut off in that moment, as though there was no consciousness between eyeing the drop and the drop being in my mouth. I think about this lapse in brain activity often, usually when I'm in any position of height—in the window of a tall building, or on a bridge (frequently). These moments make me realize the very thin line between life and death. What if my brain were to shut off again—for just two seconds—I could find myself dropping from the Burnside bridge into the Willamette River.

And that would be that.

This may be pushing it, but lapsing into an absent state for a long enough period to reason jumping off a bridge is somewhat of an INTOXICATING thought. The kind of thought that makes me want to jump and squeak for a minute—so scary it is thrilling.


  1. I have often found this of myself in high places as well. this is probably where my fear if heights comes from. It's such a strange occurance and quite disorienting.

  2. That's funny—because I think this feeling actually makes me enjoy heights. Weird.