Thomas Wictor

Things I never did because I knew they’d kill me

Things I never did because I knew they’d kill me

Today I got a World War One postcard from Estonia. The envelope had a stamp on it that reminded me of the time I didn’t listen to the little voice in my head that warned me to not to be an idiot. I paid for not listening. The few times I ignored that voice, I’ve come close enough to shake hands with the Grim Reaper. As a result I always obey my instinct. Here’s a list of things I never did because I knew they’d kill me.

1. Take LSD.

I once ate hallucinogenic mushrooms in college; I remembered that disaster when I got my postcard from Estonia today. Here’s the stamp on the envelope.


It’s about eating Amanita virosa, the most poisonous mushroom out there. That’s quite an image. A. virosa blows up your kidneys and liver, hence the death’s head.

In college I got very high on pot one night, and someone suggested I try mushrooms. He had a literal garbage bag full of them in his room.

“I’ve already used them to make tea,” he said. “Their potency is already pretty shot, so take a bunch.”

He was the expert. I therefore ate three handfuls. An hour or so later, as I sat in another guy’s room, I heard this deranged, low-energy chuckling: “Huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh-huh.

It went on and on and on. Finally I realized it was coming from me. I stood up and looked out the window; the outside had become a painted backdrop. My brain was so scrambled that it scared the hell out me. I went into the bathroom and sat in a stall with the door closed. The light coming through the gap at the top of the stall and the ceiling made me think I was an inch tall, standing outside the closed door of a room.


That made me so afraid and disoriented that I went to my dorm bedroom, which had cinder-block walls. In each little dimple of each brick, there was a tiny person, waving at me and talking.

Billions of little jabbering people in my wall.

The trip lasted about ten hours. I never took any kind of hallucinogenic again. If I’d tried LSD, I never would’ve come back.

2. Go scuba diving.


In high school my biology professor told me that a tiny percentage of people who went scuba diving died from pressure-induced cardiac arrhythmia. Since I’d already died from arrhythmia once, I knew that the second I got to the proper depth, my heart would start skipping beats, and I’d croak. I knew it in my bones. That’s too bad; I’ve had lots of dreams about scuba diving in office buildings. I would’ve loved to try that.

Someone needs to fill a skyscraper with water and let people scuba dive in it. Think of how much money you could make.

3. Go sky diving or learn to fly.

Because this would happen.

Either I’d be hit by a plane, or I’d hit a skydiver. No question.

And I know we’re all going to be old someday—if we’re lucky—but is there really an eighty-seven-year-old on earth fit to fly an airplane? Don’t you need some pretty fast reflexes, like in this case, when suddenly a skydiver appears in front of you?

My father was eighty-four when he died. For the last five years of his life, he was the most dangerous driver I’ve ever seen. The only thing he didn’t do was drive on the wrong side ofthe freeway, but that was because he avoided freeways.

He’d sightsee as he drove. Signage fascinated him. He’d have to read every sign out loud as we passed it. He’d pronounce each business name with an arch, insinuating sarcasm, as though he thought the companies were trying to get away with something, but they hadn’t fooled him!

Costco. Dominguez Auto Repair. McDonalds Hamburgers. Merritt’s Hardware. J and R Flori—

“Red light! Red light! Red light!”

He slam on the brakes: screeeeeeeeeeeeeech! We’d skid to a stop with an inch to spare. Then he’d glare at me, his dignity affronted.

I know! I saw it!”

Dad in a plane? God save us all.

4. Shoot a high-powered semiautomatic rifle.

I’d be the guy who lost his face or fingers in the one-in-a-million malfunction. Shooting guns is scary enough without the knowledge that you’ve got all that pressure right by your head.

When I bought my first gun, I went to an indoor range. Some guy was teaching his tiny girlfriend how to fire an M1911 .45 caliber semiautomatic pistol.


The pistol produced yellow muzzle blasts the size of basketballs. Each shot gave me an adrenaline rush. I looked around and saw that all the booths and walls had bullet holes in them, so I went home without firing my new gun. My gut told me, “GET OUT!

So I did.

5. Meet any kind of wild animal, under any circumstances, regardless of how “tame” they are.

The bear is muzzled, but he’s still got claws. I think he did this just because he’s an asshole.

The only animals I like are house cats. I read that when you meet Koko the talking gorilla in person, you can’t make eye contact, or she’ll kill you. she likes pets and communicates in sign language, but any wrong move will make her tear you limb from limb.


Yeah, I’ll give her a pass. She’d smell the fear and smash me flat. I just don’t get that. Why attack something that’s afraid of you? Shouldn’t you save your violence for a threat instead of a cowering weenie that would never hurt you?

Nice Koko. Good girl. Go to hell.

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