We finally bought a new sofa. And to make sure it doesn't go to waste, I've been watching a lot of TV lately. I might as well, since there just happens to be a television set directly in front of it. In most American homes, the sofa's placement is scientifically determined by the position of the TV. There's a formula and everything.
"The circumference of the sofa is one half the radius of the television, times pie with whipped cream, divided by the amount of time it takes the kids to change the channel to the Cartoon Network."
I've always been good at math.
When I can get the remote away from the children, I've been particularly fascinated by reality shows, especially the ones where some guy with the survival skills of Crocodile Dundee, Jeremiah Johnson and the combined armed forces of the United States, is dropped off in the middle of a barren wasteland or rain forest or some other inhospitable terrain like Buffalo. Then, for our viewing pleasure, he has to spend a week trying to find food, shelter, and water, all while attempting to stay within the proper camera angle so the viewers don't get a peek at the boom mics hanging from tree limbs or the catering table set up just outside the scene's perimeter.
In each episode, our survival heroes find themselves in even more dangerous situations than the week before. Coming closer to a death from exposure, starvation, dehydration, or the worse case of Montezuma's revenge on either side of the border. You'd swear they're competing to see who can eat the most revolting, live and slimy creature, in the most extreme, nausea-inducing, camera close-up.
"Why do you watch this stuff," my husband asks?
"You never know when you'll need these skills," I say.
Learning to turn a hiking boot into a three course meal could come in handy someday, given my culinary expertise. Yes, if anyone is going to have to know how to repel down the face of an Arctic crevasse while filleting a Polar bear with her free hand, it's going to be me. Why just the other day...
* * *
From the safety of my living room, the landscape outside may look like a beautiful winter wonderland, but looks are deceiving. Yes, today I'll be stepping out my front door and going to...the mailbox. (cue dramatic theme music)
I know it sounds crazy, but yes, the mailbox. And I'll be completely and utterly alone. Except for my cameraman.
I'll be making my way across the treacherous, snow-covered expanse with no provisions or equipment, save for the Trusty Swiss Army Knife given to me by my Brownie leader when I was only six.
"Gloria," she said, "never go anywhere without your Trusty Swiss Army Knife, especially to the mailbox."
I've never forgotten those words. How could I? They're tattooed on my left bicep. Don't tell me Brownies aren't tough.
No food, no water. Not even a compass to guide my way across the frigid topography. Yes, without sun, moon, stars, or Patagonian Sherpa to lead me, I could wander for days unable to find my way. (Warning: Outlandish Aside Alert)
Why, just last year, on a day quite like today, a woman foolishly attempted to make it to her mailbox in bathrobe and fuzzy slippers and was (cue suspenseful music)...
Let's hope I don't meet the same fate as she, but rather, demonstrate how to survive the hostile environs of The Front Yard, despite the fact that I have mysteriously developed a British accent and am talking REALLY LOUD.
WELL, I'VE MADE IT TO, er, I've made it to the porch steps by sheer will and determination. Now I must descend without the aid of climbing gear. As my Brownie leader use to tell us before cookie sale time, "Don't panic. Always take time to assess the situation. In every worst case scenario, there's a solution, if you just keep your wits about you."
And, there it is. The solution. The extension cord on my cameraman's battery adapter (hey, we've got a tight budget here, do you know what those batteries cost these days?). I'll just fashion the cord into a repelling line and tie it to the belt of my bathrobe. There, that's got it. I'll be down these icy steps in no time.
What's this?! Blimey, my line's gone slack!
Me: "What's that you say? You think I should turn back?”
Cameraman: "Yes, there's no mail delivery today. It's a government holiday."