3.11.2010

i cave

I went into a cave yesterday. I shouldn’t go into caves. I know this about myself. I shouldn’t go into caves because once when my younger son was two he got stuck in one of those horrible plastic tubular playground things that for people like me is more like a catheter to hell. I’ve always been a bit claustrophobic, but that day in the bright blue and red pipette cinched the deal. He was lost and scared, and wouldn’t follow his brother out, but needed me to come in and rescue him. I considered for a moment leaving him there, but I really love that kid, so I did what every mother would do; climbed through the burning fires of polyvinyl chloride damnation to save her child. It may have seemed less dramatic to the onlookers, but they didn’t live it.
            Why did I go into the cave? Because it was big. Bigger than an airplane. Bigger than an elevator. Bigger than any tubular playgound I’d ever seen. I convinced myself that it was the word “cave” that was getting to me. I watched the movie about the cave. There were so many happy people oohing at stalactites and ahhing at stalagmites I was sure I could be one of them. We took a 10-minute trolley ride through the jungle to the mouth of the cave. Which looked like the mouth of a giant claustrophobic-eating monster. I’m sure the happy people thought so too, and in we all went, because we’re brave like that.
            A few hundred feet into the cave I slipped and fell on my ass, banging my elbow and worse, my camera, on the slippery monster-throat walkway. The guide helpfully suggested I be careful, obviously having noticed I was a happy and carefree spelunker with a devil-may-care attitude about the perilousness of the circumstances. “This is me being careful,” I explained, backside wet but otherwise fine. In body.
            In retrospect falling was an astute tactical maneuver. My advice, should you find yourself claustrophobic and in a cave, is to fall down. You will spend the rest of your cave walk worrying only about remaining vertical. When you walk through the room of the cave where the millions of bats are surely sleeping and will not suck your blood or get caught in your hair, and you are gagging from the stench but terrified to let go of the railing even though you just stuck your hand in a fresh glop of guano, you will be too busy to think about your claustrophobia. And you will have me to thank for that, no co-pay, no paperwork.

11 comments:

  1. laugh out loud funny, Monique. my fav: "but I really love that kid". You could have tried putting some french fries at the entrance and see if he came out.
    Perfect piece of writing, keep it up. Travel writing? I know someone who can book you a great tour of Italy.

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  2. Thanks, Donna, And sign me up for the Italy tour. I bet they have some great caves there.

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  3. Was this at El Junque? You are very brave; you could never get me into a cave, even an Italian one with a pair of Pradas at the end.

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  5. Beth, go wash your hands. (and thanks.)
    Cheryl, it was the Camuy Caves near Arecibo. And the Pradas were knock-offs; don't bother.

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  6. Practical and hilarious advice for would-be spelunkers. I have to remember this. Judging from the cool picture, I take it your camera survived as well.

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  7. A French fry, Donna? We're talking Monique's kid. Potatoes Au Gratin at least.

    “This is me being careful." I am speechless. I love this piece.

    (Monique, tell me you weren't wearing the Crocs...)

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  8. Debbie, the Crocs don't leave the house, unless I'm going over to Cheryl's. Had I worn the Crocs, there would be no blog post. And thanks.
    Lynne, the camera did survive. And it's a damn good thing because it would have been a shame to have lost the pictures of the last cave I ever went into.

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  9. I love you comments about the cave I didn't get to go to. It sounded like you had such a good time.
    Howie went to the post office this morning and was surprised that he didn't run into you.

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  10. There are certain things I don't joke about and crocs are on the list.

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  11. Debbie G. that is too funny!
    Mila and I decided that should there be a next time, we will wait outside the cave watching Batman videos.

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