Oh no! It’s The Evil Quicksand! I remember brief snapshots of many television episodes and movie scenes where our beloved hero, or his loooove interest, has fallen into the unforgiving embrace of quicksand. A slow decent into the dark soil as we see a single bubble rise and pop from the surface of this camouflaged killer. “Come on Tarzan! Please save the beautiful Jane from the pit of despair!” Well, I probably wasn’t that eloquent as a young boy, but it’s hard to type out the girly screech that I’m sure escaped from my mouth.
Personally, quicksand was just another reason to never go camping. Why would I want to run screaming through the forest as an angry black bear chases me and my honey soaked chin. AND, deer ticks strategically parachuting down onto my nether regions infecting me with lyme disease bite after tiny, itchy bite. AND, just when I look over my shoulder at my inevitable death, “plop!” Nooooo! Quicksand! At that moment three buzzards start circling over head and a pack of wolves cry and sing of my demise to the full moon in the sky. Fuck you, mother nature. I’ll take my chances with the insects in my alley. “What’s up, Spider?”
After a little research, I discovered that 3% of all the films released in the 60s had a scene involving quicksand. I was born in 1970, but I watched all those movies and now kind of understand my intimate nightmares of the wonderful wild. It’s been ingrained in me to fear the jungles of something like, um, Yosemite Park. I personalized that fear of nature and, consequently, fell into a deep need for amenities. “Oh, happy hot water. Meet Mr. Soap. You two loooove each other, don’t you? Look at the mess you guys are making! Not on the face! NOT ON THE FACE! Oohhh, you got me.”
I asked my roommate Michele, “How many deaths, do you think, are caused by drowning in quicksand?” “Per year? I dunno, a hundred?” “Nope. zero.” It turns out it is impossible to drown in quicksand. I know! According to physics, the human body is more buoyant in quicksand than water. Once you get half way down, say to your waist, quicksand will start to push the other way until, I guess hours or days later, you will float to the top. You could still die from , say, hypothermia or sun stroke or the honey badger, but you wouldn’t drown. Not even close. Which makes quicksand the AIDS of mother nature. It won’t kill you, but it’s friends will.
Strangely enough, I found an online community of quicksand enthusiasts. They call themselves “sinkers.” But as I tried to click on the links from the search list, their sites were either gone, or in one case, just the old HTML like some distant village that decided to go on vacation with the Mayans. “These are the lost artifacts of the great civilization known as, The Sinkers. Oddly, the entire village is surrounded by a moat of quicksand around two feet deep. Hey! There is one now! No, you don’t see me. I am at the bottom of the quicksand. At the bottom?!? It’s only a few feet deep! That’s not true. I’m definitely lying lifeless at the bottom. I’m sorry, viewers. But it seems that all this time, this has been one elaborate Hollywood hoax. Will you please get up. I can’t hear yoooou.” I suppose I would have abandoned this ridiculous community as well. Maybe for one a bit more risqué. Like the Euro Gay Police Network. Serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual police. Which is real.
So, I guess, quicksand gets a downgrade. You are essentially stuck. There are a few tricks to get unstuck, like gently moving your leg in a circular motion to allow water to trickle back into the super compacted soil that has a grip on your Air Jordan. But still, not drowning. I immediately start thinking of all the ways one could get “stuck” and how you could personalize it. My first thought is every cubicle I’ve ever seen. A wasteland of connecting particle board where slaves toil away at whatever their supervisors have fastened to them as they try to justify their thankless job by putting pictures of those that are counting on them on every possible surface. “Here is a picture of my little Joey. He is selling candy bars at the gas station to fund his little league trip to Yucaipa. I had his mom take this picture because I haven’t actually seen him since I took this job. But he has medical coverage now. Oww! Sorry, my left arm just went numb.”
Sometimes getting stuck isn’t a bad thing. I will occasionally get “stuck” at my local bar. I will personalize my slow decent into my bar stool with multiple rounds of Bodingtons and Jamisons as roots slowly attach to the hard wood floor beneath. Or the day in which you have a list of pressing business that you have to attend to, but you can’t remove yourself from the warm sheets of the woman you met a week ago. Sometimes there isn’t any reason in the world to remove yourself from the soft flesh of a welcoming bosom. Yep, I was stuck in the quicksand of her cleavage. If I would have only known this info earlier, I would have referred to many things in my life as quicksand. “Have you met my friend, Quicksand? We met over at Quicksands. She is studying over at LMU, but currently works as an assistant at Quicksand, Ashkenazic, and Quicksand. Sorry I didn’t go to your party last week, but I was stuck in quicksand. That’s where that honey badger bit me.”
In hindsight, I feel a bit ashamed of believing in such a ruse. It just goes to show you how ridiculous some folklore can be. I probably would have avoided a candy store if I saw the 1960s underground classic, “The Vines of Death!” Where rogue licorice attacks an unsuspecting community of Mormons. “Watch out, little Mitt! But here comes some black licorice now!” And to think, I pulled for a guy named “Jaguar Paw” in Apocalypto. He too almost drowned in quicksand. You tricked me, Mel Gibson! As punishment, here is your role in “The Vines of Death!” “Who is my co-star? Noooo! Not the BLACK licorice! Dear white, creamy, milky God! Help me! Scotland is freeeeeee…”