I have been physically lost twice in my life. By lost, I mean someone had to come and find me before I expired.
The first was when I was 7 years old and thought I could take care of myself in downtown Zaragoza, Spain. Within a hundred yards, I had no idea where the hell I was. It seemed like a week but was probably no more than 10 minutes.
The Old Man found me, threatened my life for scaring Mom like that, and reunited me with my siblings, who, in truth, would have been fine if I had stayed lost.
The last time I needed rescuing was shortly after high school, an incident that doesn’t bear exploring beyond the fact that I was inebriated and mostly naked.
Otherwise, I have always had the presence of mind to find my own way out of the official status of “being lost” and into the status of “being in trouble.”
Why is this important? Well, needing to be rescued is a lamentable condition largely particular to my gender.
According to statistics recently released by the National Park Service, search-and-rescue operations were conducted in Utah’s national parks 324 times last year, a 68 percent leap from 2014.
Here’s the most interesting part: Half the rescues were for guys, typically in their 20s.
Note: I am not talking about men and women. I’m talking about “guys.” There’s a difference in the same way there is between a woman and a “gal.” One implies a certain level of reason, the other not so much.
If you’ve ever been a guy — and there’s no shame if you’re not, given that 89 percent of us (that’s right, I’m a guy) are morons — you’ll know what I’m talking about.
A guy will look at a 500-foot cliff and think, “It’s 105 degrees, the only water I have is in my bladder, and I’ve never done this before, but I bet I could climb that awesome thing.”
Conversely, a “gal” is more apt to think twice, as in, “How will I take selfies if I need to use both hands to climb?”
But we’re talking about guys. The important thing is that it’s usually a guy stuck on a cliff, wedged in a slot canyon, or wandering around with his tongue full of needles from trying to lick cactus for moisture. Meanwhile, trained professionals are forced to go get him.
Part of the reason is that guys are more adventurous than normal men. Their brains haven’t caught up to their physical capabilities, and it makes them vulnerable to self-destructive impetuousness, known in the psychiatric community as “gross dumbassery.”
Add booze and/or the mere presence of a reasonably attractive female in the bargain and you’re on your way to a perfect search operation — even if it’s just a “body recovery.”
Guys are going to be guys, no matter what. If nothing else, this column should serve as a pointless reminder to them to be careful this summer. It’s dangerous out there for the young and inexperienced.
It’s also dangerous for the old and well-experienced. I’ve reached the age when even my backyard is dangerous. The only difference is that I’ll be easier to find — if someone notices that I’m missing.