I’ve decided to share my latest book (The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man) with my followers here, free of charge, one chapter at a time. It’s hilariously introspective, and its overall message is one that is so important to me. So… Since I think the introduction is something you’ll actually really like, and since I love what you get when you first crack open my book, how about we start there?
When I was not yet three, Dad let go of my hand after our family had finished crossing a busy intersection, and turned his focus for the shortest moment to Mom and my other two young siblings. “Stay here,” he told me.
To some this would be considered a lousy parenting moment. To me, after a lifetime to ponder it, and now that I’m a parent myself, I consider it… a lousy parenting moment.
He turned back around just in time to watch me sprint as fast as two-year-old legs can toddle, straight into heavy traffic.
A big, heavy, old-school Camaro was flying through the intersection and was maybe twenty feet away, going full speed straight at me when I entered the street.
I should have been dead less than one second later.
There was no way for the driver of the Camaro to even hit the brakes before he got to me, let alone bring his car to a stop in time.
The thought of the flashflood of dread which must have flooded both my parents in that moment makes my own fatherly stomach churn. I mean, before you can even think the thought, to know that you are about to witness your child’s face splat against a car’s bumper… I don’t want to envision how that must have felt. Probably the way I felt when Michael Jordan jumped for a three pointer at the buzzer just before he took away my team’s chance at the national title. Utah was almost cool there for a minute. And okay, Mom and Dad’s moment was probably worse.
I didn’t get hit by the car. As if some invisible force stepped in, the Camaro just stopped dead in its tracks. And stopped isn’t even the right word. That would invite images of somehow slowing down, even if dramatically, and then stopping. No, it just went from full-speed to dead-still as if it had hit a wall of impenetrable air.
But, get this. There was nothing there to stop it. At least not anything that could be seen by the naked eye. And it happened just a foot or so before the fender made impact with my chubby little unsuspecting mug.
Dad and Mom always told the story and said it was as if angels had stood between me and the car. I think Mom definitely believes that to be the case. How else do you explain such a crazy phenomenon? God obviously wanted me alive. Not to brag or anything. I’m obviously a pretty fucking important person.
A few months later, I was alone in the living room while Mom prepared dinner, and I began playing behind the brown and yellow floral curtains. While standing bare-footed on a heating vent, I grabbed the frayed cord of a hanging lamp that was plugged in next to me, and I began gnawing on it as any intelligent three-year-old would.
I was immediately electrocuted.
Mom came out to check on her kids and saw my arm extending from beneath the curtain. “Get out of there, Danny!” she shouted at me. I didn’t move. “Danny, come on, get out of the curtains!” she demanded again. Still I did not move.
She yanked the curtains back, ready to give me a thorough chewing and found my unconscious tiny gray body, clumped on the floor. My eyes were rolled back into my head. Panicked, she shook me. I showed no signs of life. In that moment, Mom probably felt she was holding her dead child.
I don’t think I ever fully appreciated the weight of that until my own son, Noah, came into my life.
In a panicked frenzy, she pulled my lifeless body onto her lap and tilted my head back to begin mouth to mouth resuscitation. I immediately and violently sucked in an impossible amount of air and began hysterically screaming.
A child’s horrified cries probably never sounded as sweet as mine did to Mom in that moment.
When the electricity took me down, I had swallowed my tongue which blocked my airway. Had Mom come out of the kitchen any later than she did, this story would have only been told by a mother who had been mourning for the past three decades. I’d be buried in some plot in Salt Lake City right now, and knowing me, my ghost would follow my folks from house to house, doing all sorts of weird shit to creep them out. I’m kind of a belligerent badass that way.
But, once again, I didn’t die. And I am for some reason here to tell the tale myself. A tale that I don’t remember, if I’m being honest. I also don’t remember running into traffic and being saved by angels.
Yet the stories were told so many times throughout my younger life that they have become real memories to me. It was I, that at some point, decided what kind of car it was that stopped miraculously. My parents never have made mention of it that I know of. I think I decided exactly how far away the car was. I decided how busy the intersection was. It may have even been me that decided who was holding my hand just before it happened. It was my imagination that made the curtains brown and yellow the day I was electrocuted. It was in my imagination that Mom felt I must already be dead when she pulled me onto her lap. There are dozens of other details that I remember from those two incidents, all which fill in the gaps of an implanted memory.
The rest of my stories in this book are all real memories to me. They start later in my life, when my mind could actually make more sense of the day to day, and really learn more abstract lessons from such simple events.
The reason I share these two earlier stories is because I find two things about them to be overly fascinating (well, that and they tell me it’s always good to start off a book with something gut-wrenching or dramatic).
First, I cannot think of any deep lessons that I personally learned. I have had other near death experiences since then, and the life lessons I’ve absorbed through each of them have been plentiful. Yet, the best I can come up with looking back at these is “don’t let go of your kid next to a busy intersection,” and “replace household fixtures that have frayed power cords.”
But those aren’t my lessons; those are my parents’ lessons. They are simply tips that I can think about and implement in my own life as a father, nothing more. I would be willing to bet that my parents learned much more significant lessons than that in both situations.
Second, I have a difficult time feeling any of the natural humor that certainly had to exist in those experiences, even if it didn’t surface until much later. If life has taught me anything, it’s that even our worst experiences and heavy trials are laced with and surrounded by things we can laugh at, if we are willing to let go of the need to appear perfect or to be martyrs, and actually laugh at ourselves.
I attempted to insert at least a little humor into my narration of the stories above, but it felt insincere to me and so for the most part, I left it as was: as factual as it could be based on what I’ve been told. When I compare that humor to the reflective humor I sincerely felt as I wrote the rest of this book, it almost seems like humor shouldn’t be included in the above stories at all.
I bring this up because I really hope that this book pushes people to look at their own life stories and search for both the humor and the lessons that exist within all of them. I think it is safe to say that as we do that, we can look at both the lessons, and the degree of humor we are able to find, and determine whether our stories are our own or if they ultimately belong to someone else.
The stories above, just like the lessons, actually belong to my parents. They don’t belong to me. The stories that fill the rest of these pages are mine, and I cherish them the way I treasure a dear friend. I laugh with them the way I’d laugh with a dear friend. And I contemplate them, the way I’d look back and recount the past with a dear friend as well.
Was I saved by miracles as a child? I don’t know, and I can’t say. Like I said, I can’t remember it. I only have the incomplete stories and perspective of others to bank on.
As one who struggles to accept religion and a defined definition of God, I do have to ask myself why certain unexplainable things happen. Is everything actually a coincidence, or are some of the details of our lives guided and nudged more than I’d like to give them credit for? And do we as human beings exaggerate our own memories, even to ourselves, and use our stories to strengthen our own faith and promote our beliefs to others?
Again, I don’t know and I can’t say.
All I can do is tell my own stories, and see the biggest miracle of my life for what it is: I have been able to laugh and learn through, or after, every difficult thing I have ever been through.
Everything in this book is true according to my own memory (minus the frequent ridiculous and obvious exaggerations). I have not made anything up. Perhaps some tiny details have implanted in my mind over the years just like the color of the drapes or the make of the car in my stories above, but I have not purposefully invented anything. It is also not lost on me that these are all from my own perspective, and the details may vary greatly had the same stories been told by others who were there. Like an old wise colleague of mine used to say, “no matter how thin, there are always two sides to every pancake.”
And isn’t that what makes anyone’s life stories so great? There are almost always at least two versions to be heard, sometimes more, and sometimes they all greatly contradict the others.
The best stories are those passionately told around a dinner table, only to have another family member or friend lovingly cry out, “that’s not how it happened!” or “you left out the most important parts!” at the top of their lungs while immediately jumping into an even greater version of the exact same story.
Every life story you or I tell is a living, breathing, always evolving memory, and the method I used to decide which of my stories to share was simple. I believe that any memory which constantly surfaces, no matter how big or how small, is attached to a greater lesson. And so over the course of days, I sat down and listed out every memory (no matter how seemingly unimportant it was) that constantly has surfaced for me throughout my life. Then, I itemized the greater lessons learned in each of them.
My list ended up really surprising me. Not only was it much longer than I anticipated (I only included a fraction of them in this book), but I also saw very quickly just why I have been shaped the way I have. I easily saw which of them have influenced what I now believe, and I uncovered so many factors that have made me feel certain ways about so many things as I age. I suddenly could see why I act and react to so many different stimuli the way I do. I understood why I have great compassion toward certain people, and immediate annoyance or apathy towards others. I was reminded of important lessons that I’ve let fade with time. I was also able to finally understand some of the greater lessons that I had never put into formed thought.
When I was done with that exercise, I chose some of the memories that I thought fit together nicely, changed the names of almost everyone, and got to work on this book.
If you purchased this book, I can only assume you got suckered into buying it by some four-toed carnie selling used books and magic toad potions to finance his personal drug habit.
You probably should have bought the potion.
But thank you for buying (or borrowing, or finding) the book.
I hope you are at least entertained and absorbed enough with the following chapters that you don’t stand up in your favorite coffee shop and vehemently rant about the bleepity bleep portion of your life you’ll never get back because of this bleepity bleep author who’s so bleepity bleep mind-numbing and dull.
If you do find yourself in this situation, do us both a favor and toss my book into a recycle bin as you change modes and quietly exit. Maybe someone with time to waste on my ridiculous stories will fish it out and read it. Maybe a homeless person will use its pages to start a small trash fire in the alley and stay warm. Maybe some impossibly old matron will use it to smack her impossibly older husband for telling the barista that her boobs don’t look perky enough to be as young as she claims she is. Maybe some guy wearing biker shorts will look down and see that he dripped pee on his own leg while using the urinal, and use my book to wipe himself clean. At worst, that hotty you’ve been eyeing across the shop will think you’re the good kind of human for recycling.
END OF INTRODUCTION
Dan Pearce, from my book: The All-Important, Well-Fed, Giant White Man
Next up: Chapter 1: Don’t Do This. It’s Bad.
If you would like to start from the beginning, or catch up on a missed chapter, you’ll find all the chapters I’ve published so far by clicking here.
Of course, this book is for sale on paperback, hard cover, or as an e-book. If you find yourself unable to live without a copy, I would *so* very much appreciate you ordering one. You can find it on Amazon here (paperback and Kindle). Or hardcover here. Or Nook here. Or iBooks here.