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:
- 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.