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I kind of know how it feels


Obviously, it all brings back many memories for me. All of the people phone me, or a lot of people phone me, anyway, and they ask me what I think of the boys. All I can say is all there is to be said and all there is to be said is that I am glad it looks as though they’re getting out of there.

A cave is not a tree, how true that is – although I suppose, if pressed, one could do a rough list of similarities – and twelve Thai boys are not the one boy which was me, Harry.

As for words of advice, what good are they? Keep away from endorsements, maybe. I believe I’d tell the boys that. Yes. To sell one’s name and likeness as I did for a cheap knock-off version of Stretch Armstrong dolls was a mistake and my appearance on “Webster” a disaster, and “well-documented,” too, as they say.

Even now, even today, there are some times, not a lot of times but some times, when I get recognized as Harry the little boy in the tree from 1981. How many people are there who can say they’ve seen the top of Nancy Reagan’s and Ted Koppel’s heads from 140 feet above them? Probably very few. Some paltry number, I’d wager.

Ignore the newspapers, too, I’d say, if there still are newspapers and if there ever were newspapers in Thailand I don’t know. Back in 1981, The Houston Post mostly ran that one famous picture you remember, probably, of Dad looking up into the tree and shouting, “Harry! Get the fuck down here right now!” but I did not get the fuck down there for thirteen whole days.

“Bated breath” and the whole concept of it is a thing I have never understood, especially as regards a nation waiting with it. And yet Ted Koppel prattled on about this, this “bated breath” situation, ad nauseum, until on Day 9, I started throwing at his head whatever could be found up in the tree to throw.

A lot of this is coming back to me as I’m talking about it now.

There is one thing that is better I think about getting stuck in a cave rather than getting stuck in a tree and that one thing is this:

THE PEOPLE

- or the onlookers or as we called them, the gawkers. Like on the twelfth day I looked off one side of the tree and there were lines of people holding signs that said “JUST FALL ALREADY.” These people had gone and painted signs in very big letters so as to be visible to someone way high up in a tree. And I looked off another side of the tree where I saw other people and these wore robes and believed my predicament to have been foretold in a book of prophesy, for I was seven years old and the number seven appeared a lot in their book. And finally, I looked off another side of the tree and saw Ted Koppel, so I went back to looking at the people with the signs.

In the end, you remember, on the evening of Day 13, I climbed back down the tree, totally of my own volition, ignoring their assorted ladders and helicopters and ropes and etc., and as I have been made to understand it, a nation rejoiced.

As for fame, I might tell the Thai kids it is fleeting. Be ready for the fleeting, for there is always going to be some girl who is going to go and do something like fall down a well and everyone will forget about you just like everyone forgot about me.

There is one thing that is better I think about getting stuck in something in 2018 rather than getting stuck in something in 1981 and that one thing is this:

TED KOPPEL HAS RETIRED.

Say what you will about the world getting worse but you will never convince me. Our Ted Koppel-less future is amazing.

I hope the soccer kids get out safe and sound.

Comments

  1. Now I understand the title to your blog "The rise and fall of Harry Hamid".

    I hope the kids get out safely too. The fact that one of the experienced divers didn't does worry me, probably not as much as it's worrying the kid's parents, but still.

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    1. Looks like 8/12 now.

      Of course, those kids are going to be screwed up for life, but I'm glad it wasn't a worst case scenario.

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  2. Those poor little kids are going to have PTSD after this...how could they not? You know, there are days when I wouldn't mind being high up in a tree on my own...far from the 'madding crowd' so to speack. I'd for sure throw things at people.

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    1. I've really needed to cut myself off from everything more lately. The Cartoon Network seems safer than the news, especially if all it's going to do is make me angry and not inspire me to go out and create change.

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  3. I always thought that Ted Koppel looked a little too much like Alfred E. Neuman to be a network anchor...

    -Doug in Oakland

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    1. I don't know exactly why i chose to turn this into a Ted Koppel hit piece.

      I saw him once at a death penalty protest back in the Nineties. I lived in the death penalty capital of Texas at the time and he was covering a controversial execution.

      His head looked even bigger in person.

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    2. They're all out of the cave now, and Mr. Musk's submarine wasn't involved in the rescue.

      -Doug in Oakland

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    3. It's not a real news story until one of our beloved eccentric billionaires works their way into the story.

      I'm sort of glad it was Musk because otherwise, my money would have been on the President insulting the kids on twitter.

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  4. Thought I'd seen Koppel on CBS Sunday Morning recently. Still has pretty good -- but no longer Rick-Perry great -- hair.

    One of the more hilarious misspellings by social media hot-takers is "baited breath", which has always reminded me of someone I woke up next to after a long, hard party from my college years. (Sorry about being off-topic; my hopes are high for the boys and their coach and I actually hope they can cash in someday, at least before someone else does on their story).

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    1. I like to see him pop up once in a while and hear his perspective on current events - as well as Dan Rather's and Tom Brokaw's. It reminds me of simpler times. You know, nuclear annihilation, Satanic ritual abuse, and naughty lyrics in rap songs? The good old days.

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  5. That cake reminds me of hearing how crappy some of the star wars early toys were made. Most of the figurines on there are kind of like that, except the stormtroopers

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    1. The funny thing is that a couple of the ones I can see aren't Star Wars at all. The front one - the green one with four arms - was from Battlestar Gallactica and the one behind him was some generic thing whose head you could squeeze.

      I don't remember the cake, but I remember my action figures!

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  6. Ted really does have a giant head - you could have landed on it quite safely. He would be no good at all in a caving network, unless to use his hair to plait rope.
    I like the quotation marks "STAR WARS" like even that is only fleeting fame in the history of everything. It was a sign.
    I'm looking forward to looking back and all the boys being out and safe and we have forgotten it because there was no tragedy, only terrible suspense.

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    1. I'm happy they got out. I am happy they got out because it would have been awful for a child to die in such circumstances, but also because this post would have seemed a lot less... funny had things gone a different way.

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  7. I have always felt that in a better, wiser world we'd elect people like Koppel to office. Despite the journalistic speech, he's always seemed leveled headed.

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    1. He seems like sort of a logical thinker, which might be a negative in politics. We certainly do like the dream, even when it's a bad one.

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  8. The kids got out! I am so very happy! You were in a tree for 13 days?? Wow!! What an experience!!! I got stuck in a cave once, in camp. Actually, it was an opening, while we walked through the cave. I wiggled backwards and went out the other way. I was lucky!

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    1. Unfortunately, this post if mostly fiction. I'd love to be able to put "The Little Kid in the Tree, 1981" on a job resume.

      I've always been a claustrophobic, so a tree would have been a bigger draw for me than a cave. You couldn't get me into a cave at gunpoint.

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  9. Three cheers for the Koppel-less future!

    You did well to stay in the tree for so long. The most I ever managed was a couple of hours.

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    1. We used to have this huge jungle gym in our back yard and I'd go sit up there and stare into the distance for hours. Jungle gyms probably outnumbered trees in my neighborhood, though.

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    2. In my yard it was a 2-story hay stack

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  10. It seems they made it all right. Thank goodness for that. Maybe, they will listen to the the post-tree Harry. He, who saw things from above, and got down when he was right and ready.

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    1. Everybody at work seems shocked they got out. I think we're all so used to bad news that good news confuses us.

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  11. When I was young, which I was once, I thought it was "baited breath" as in smells like bait because I knew what bait was all about.

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    1. You go with what you know. I need to do a post sometime about all of the homonyms I messed up on growing up.

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  12. Like Joni I always thought it was baited breath...until today!

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    1. The educational value of this blog is at an all-time high!

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  13. If my memory is working it was Jessica that fell down the well which was just an open hole in the ground. Problem was the hole was in her backyard. Oh, that reminds I need to pick up those animal traps before the grandkids get here.
    Joking aside, kids getting hurt do pull on your heart strings.

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    1. I am thrilled there was a piece of good news... or any news that in no way involved our political scene, which is normally all that American media seem to cover.

      There are rarely any children anywhere close to my house. Which is good because I might be a "Get off my lawn" kind of person.

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  14. Interesting. I had no idea about your claim to fame. I am going to have to do some research to learn more about this Harry fellow and the tree. It was nice to see all of the boys get rescued in Thailand. It feels nice to get some good news for a change.

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    1. I wouldn't have made it in a cave. I think I'm claustrophobic. How did the kids not freak out?

      Someone at work told me that during the rescue itself, they drugged the kids to get them out - so they'd use less oxygen and not freak out. I don't know if that's true, but if I ever get stuck in a cave, I hope someone does that for me.

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  15. So, how did the caterpillars taste?

    You did survive on caterpillars, right?

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    1. Rainwater and caterpillars, obviously.

      They taste like chicken.

      I had a whole eating and excretion scenario in the back of my mind for this, but I tend to shave everything down when I actually write. Someday, when I try for another novel, I'll be able to bring in all the parts that get shaved off in blog posts.

      Who knows? Those might be the best parts.

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  16. Such great writing--for a minute, I thought it was true! I was almost killed by a tree once. I was about 6, climbing a tree in our back yard by myself when my collar somehow got caught on a branch. I was dangling there suffocating when my dad just happened to look out the window. I don't think he ever ran so fast in his life. It kind of made up for the time that he pushed me down the hill on my toboggan right into a park bench...

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    1. Oh wow. That's wild!

      I think I could probably do a blog on an ongoing basis that is only about times my brother and I almost died doing stupid stuff. It's sort of amazing we lived and I don't remember some of it now - possibly because of the head damage I sustained.

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