While on a 15 minute break at work today, Sir Kyle and I engaged in a discussion via email. I told him that I wished to share our little talk for the public record, and he said that was fine.
His only condition was that I not edit it to correct his spelling errors, typos, run-on sentences, lack of capitalization, page breaks, etc. I said that I didn’t like it, but that I would honour his request.
Here it is:
JAMES: Sometimes I wonder whether I’ll ever stand up from my chair here in “the zone,” listening to my music and my podcasts, doing my work, and discover that everyone has simply…vanished!
Just like in The Langoliers!
SIR KYLE: I am unfamiliar with that. That would be pretty sweet though, assuming everything still functioned as normal.
JAMES: In the book, they eventually land the plane at a deserted airport, only to discover that the jet fuel in the tanks is stale and matches won’t light and stuff. So as a smoker, you’d probably hate it in another dimension.
SIR KYLE: There are many ways to create fire. I am sure I would figure something out, in a pinch. But that is what I meant by saying ‘if everything was functioning normally’.
JAMES: You’d never figure it out. I’ve tried the old Neolithic methods. There’s a knack.
SIR KYLE: Well first off, thanks for the confidence. Figuring it out isn’t hard. The idea behind it is fairly simple, after all. Though if you want to use the sticks right then it does become a bit of a carving issue, but nonetheless, the idea is pretty straightforward. Actually succeeding…yeah, unlikely. Though presumably I don’t have a lot else to do. And using glasses/magnifying glasses is actually fairly easily done. But I digress. Alls I need is electricity. Or lacking that a well-placed lightning strike.
JAMES: Now-now, don’t internalize that statement.
I’m just saying, it’s freakin’ tough. You don’t get your spectacles, electricity, or any kind of accelerant – I’m talkin’ diggin’ a piece of flint out of the ground and scraping a some birch bark for some fine tinder. MAKE IT WORK!
You: “Eh, I’ll do it later.”
Me: “See those storm clouds, Sir Kyle? You’ll be DEAD later! Put that noble blood of yours to work or you’re not making it through the night! Get on it!”
You: *Click!-Click!-Click!* “FUCK!”
SIR KYLE: How does one not internalize a statement directed to them beginning with the word ‘you’? Not that it matters, you are right, I’d be horribly screwed. Especially without my glasses. I have done quite a few solo trips in the woods…used to be a favorite pastime of mine. The longest I went was five days, and even when you have the tools that stuff can be tough in the wrong conditions. Some wind, rain/general dampness mixed with some bad luck, poor planning and absentmindedness can lead to a cold night, matches be damned.
JAMES: You’re right, I did say “You’d never figure it out,” didn’t I?
What I meant by that is, anyone who’s not Survivorman (who does that kind of stuff for a living) is likely to die from exposure out there. Heck, last week the coffee cart lady didn’t come by my cube as per usual and I almost didn’t make it through the work day.
As an aside, how humbling is what you were talking about just now? Your Kryptonite? Your prescription bifocals! If you ever find yourself in the wilderness and lose those things while trying to cross a river or something, you’re done. Prescription anything, really. Only brought one puffer on your backpacking trip? You’d better believe that’s a-paddlin’.
SIR KYLE: Humbling? Hmmm, not overly. Not having glasses would be a disadvantage, but it isn’t quite forgetting your epi-pen. I have nothing that goes against your argument, humans are generally pretty pathetic. I can at least find some confidence that growing up how and where I did gives me a marked advantage over most folks who have lived in the city for their entire lives. But even that only goes so far, what with this being a first world country and my having been born here as a white male. I wouldn’t know hardship until I immediately died from it. Nonetheless, with all that said I am sure I would last longer than 50% of the population. Amongst my demographic surely in the back third.
I am humbled enough in everything else I don’t let reality bother me too much.
JAMES: That’s why I’ve chosen not to live in reality.
Hey, here’s a question for you: if you and I were to become stranded in the wilderness like in The Edge, who do you think would live longer? Or even make it out alive? There are no roads or power lines to follow or train tracks to stumble across, either. We’d have only our cunning to protect us.
Also, we’re not stranded as a team – we’re alone in this scenario. Otherwise, one of us would probably kill the other with a rock, if only to win the bet.
Search and Rescue Guys With Their Chopper: “Well-well! We didn’t think we’d be seeing you again! Where’s Sir Kyle?”
Me: “–Didn’t make it. The mosquitos drove him nuts and he jumped off a cliff.”
Chopper Guys: “Hey, there are mice and then are men, right?” *Slapping my back* “Come on, the steak dinner’s on us!”
SIR KYLE: I’m not sure of your background. You grew up in a small town though, so while not the styx, it aint exactly bright lights big city. So chances are you have like…cut wood, at least. You strike me as someone who has camped in the past, so I am guessing you could probably fashion a shelter, understand things like ‘don’t get wet’ and be able to prioritize your energy use.
I think that a few things would work in my favor though, the greatest of them being my diet is used to being pathetically small and not at all nutritious. You love well prepared food, I couldn’t care less. Advantage Kyle. I have camped a lot, and even taken a youth survival course, but since I don’t know your background I can’t really speak to where we stand on that. Draw. I think we both want to live about the same amount, and are equally stubborn. Draw. I would never take another life without good cause, which I don’t think this scenario is. Advantage James.
I would say me, as I hope you would say you. That is the first box you need to check off in that situation anyway; ‘confident of survival’. The reality is that so much in that situation can come down to luck, and chances are decent that that is all there would be to separate us.
James, hungry, sitting on a rock by a riverbed. He has managed to tend a fire from a lightning strike, but has nothing to cook. Out of nowhere a deer scrambles down the bank a hundred or so metres from him, falling and cracking its skull on the rocks near the water.
JAMES: I like that you took the time to give the idea some careful thought, Sir Kyle.
Very diplomatic of you to give us each differing experience points, too.
Still…I think the fact that you’d do that at all betrays a certain weakness, and you would undoubtedly die out there.
Can you meet me at the elevators? Like, right now? I want to show you a cool rock I found in the parking lot.
Kyle, this rock – you’re not going to believe it. It has little sparkles and shit in it! You’ve got to see it!
SIR KYLE: I am a logical person. Often to my detriment, somehow.
But this goes both ways now, doesn’t it? Your overactive imagination would have you contemplating how a meeting between Cobain and Bieber might pay out then, bam, cougar attack. Now James and his ideas are bleeding through deep claw gashes, and his neck, limp and broken, is firmly clutched in the jaws of one of nature’s ultimate killing machines. Probably a poor argument, as there is no preparation that can save you from a cougar attack. Let’s go with bear. Assuming we aren’t dealing with Grizzly’s that fits my point better.
And more to the point, what weakness does it purvey? Sound, reasoned ideas are going to go a long way in a situation like that. Until the inevitable dementia kicks in and I start chasing rabbits and other small game on all fours, think the sun is my buddy and the moon is trying to rip us off and leaving offerings at ‘the stump’.
…This rock you speak of is intriguing.
JAMES: I’m telling you, you’re going to love this rock.
Okay, I’m going to address all of your points in turn:
– My “overactive imagination,” as you call it, could only help me in such a situation. In fact, perhaps it’s you who has a lack of imagination and a grandiose image of himself, what with your suggestion that your thoughts are “sound and reasoned.” I seem to remember you arguing that you’d be just fine in the desolate wilderness because you’d simply have to harness “electricity” to start your bonfires. Durrrrr!!! There’s no electricity out there! I realize you’re happy I gave you a knighthood, but come on now. I didn’t give you the powers of an X-Man!
(Interesting aside – did you know that the etymology of the word “bonfire” harkens back to the dark ages (and before), when tribes would actually make fires during their pagan worship out of actual bones? BONEfire? Look it up!)
– Cougars? What are they, like? Eighty or ninety pounds? Essentially a fourth grader with sharper teeth and claws. Moot point. I’d choke it out in fifteen seconds.
– Bear? Again, no problem. I’d simply climb a tree. Then, after the fear had abated and I realized the bear was climbing up after me, I would find a way to descend, grab my already-prepped fire-hardened spear and pull an Anthony Hopkins, allowing it to skewer itself with its own body weight. Bear coats for everybody! So just me! Like my bear coat, Kyle? Oh that’s right, you jumped off a cliff and you’re dead!
– Oh, and the Bieber-Cobain situation? Well, that’s a no-brainer, isn’t it? Cobain would simply commit murder-suicide instead of plain old suicide!
SIR KYLE: First off when I mentioned electricity we were in a scenario where it was simply a time-distortion, not stranded in the woods. Modifying contexts to fit your arguments is bush league.
Second…off…I don’t see how saying I have sound and reasoned thoughts comes off as grandiose. I don’t think that qualifies, but I guess that’s your call, so be it. I will note that your first point essentially amounts to “this will work for me because this (completely different thing) won’t work for you.” It’s really a pointless statement and does nothing for your argument other than cast parts of my character (wrongly, and with no evidence) into doubt. Stay away from ad hominem. I know in today’s day of internet commentary it has become popular, but it isn’t how you make points. Or at least it isn’t how you make reasoned and logical points. But then who am I, other than some self-important non X-man (my super power would be napping).
The other stuff I have no real problem with. I could see you winning a wrestling match with a 80-90 pound cougar, though you may get in trouble for assaulting a woman. Bears are easy, no denying that. If they don’t really want to eat you it’s pretty easy to get them to leave you alone. Assuming there are no young around. If there are…well…get a rock. And a God. And as for Bieber-Cobain I think that scenario can go many, many ways. Most of them ending in murder, admittedly. But I would like to think it may inspire Cobain to stay around and make sure that teens get the depressed, life-hating influence they deserve!
JAMES: …hey, I don’t remember exactly when you said that you had “magical electrical powers,” I just know you said it!
SIR KYLE: Okay we’re done here.