Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


At One with Nature
I confess — something I share with many hippies is a desire to connect with nature. The modern world focuses so much with the superficial, you know? The blinking and beeping and chirping of computers and cellular phones, the numbing comfort of sitcom laugh-tracks, the overwhelming spectacle of big-budget action movies, the compelling lure of naked boobies all over the Internet... Think of the knowledge and peace we as a people could gain by turning away from these distractions from time to time and instead savoring the pastoral.

It’s perhaps no surprise, but while the hippies and I have this yearning in common, our paths significantly diverge. For example, hippies seek out the tutelage of shamans, spirit guides, healers and visionaries to learn about the natural world. They frequently sit around being all natural and filthy. Some smoke or ingest a selection of natural, psychedelic flora in order to melt the shackles of mundane reality separating us from our animal brothers and sisters, fostering an embrace of the Cosmic All. And I can certainly respect all that, if by “respect” you mean “deride.” But me… Well, I prefer to instead put nature in my mouth and stomach, if at all possible after it’s been killed, or at least reasonably subdued.

One time I sat on a bar stool and listened to a very attractive young woman tell me about some rough times she had experienced (I think she had said her ex-boyfriend was too focused on his band, boo hoo hoo). Her life had been turned around during a morning jog, when she saw a deer. The deer looked at her, and in that instant she felt a jolt of spiritual connection. It was quickly over — the wise, noble deer went back to nibbling at the spoiled cottage cheese mixed with dogshit stuck to the side of the dumpster, and she made her way back to civilization, where she became a vegan and devoted herself to… to…

Shit, I can’t remember. Reminding humanity of that which is has been lost by the artificial lifestyle of Western culture or something. At the time I was completely dazed by her total stupidity, which had made my penis go irreparably soft. I abandoned my hope of using it to feel a jolt of spiritual connection with her vagina, and excused myself to seek adventure elsewhere.

After waking up the next afternoon and waiting for the tremors to stop and the feeling to come back to my legs, I enjoyed a few moments of quiet reflection. Piecing together the previous night’s activities, I had to admit to feeling a bit jealous of the pretty cretin and her supernatural deer. If only all my encounters with the natural world could be so enlightening; so free from spines, fangs or toxins.

But you know, as Gandhi once said, “Dude, there’s enlightenment, and then there’s enlightenment.” Why does enlightenment always have to result in inner peace and be topped with a fruity, mystical foam? Shit, there have been a few instances when I’ve felt my consciousness expand faster than Michael Jackson’s pantaloons at a Chuck E. Cheese, and it wasn’t because some flea-bitten varmint beamed me with a ray of woodland wisdom. It was because some rogue piece of nature, apparently forgetting the way the food chain is supposed to work, was trying to eat or kill me.

Like the time I was in the yard jacking off with a beer bottle in my ass and fell into this nest of angry scorpions. As they began to sting me in the eyes and genitals, I yelled out to the priest to put down the video camera and…

Okay, that never happened. But you know the only damn reason you’re reading this is because most of these stories end up with something terrible getting stuck in my pee-hole. So don’t judge me.

I may never have managed to get any scorpions stuck in my pee-hole, but once I was attacked by a giant spider. It wasn’t at all action-packed and exciting, like the scene in that movie where the two intrepid, gay midgets with the ring have all the magical adventures. I did, however, feel my consciousness expand. It expanded to include the thought, “Holy shit, big hairy spiders are totally fucking scary.”

It happened on the lovely, pristine waters of the Itchetucknee river. Despite the fact that you can’t bring booze in there, unlike Ginnie Springs, the crystal-clear, spring-fed Itchetucknee is a popular summertime destination in this area. People of all ages rent big, black inner tubes from nearby merchants and pay a nominal fee to spend a few lazy hours floating down the river, enjoying the cool water and gorgeous scenery. No additional fee is necessary to enjoy the thrill of having a multi-legged piece of that scenery break off and attempt to stab you in the face with poison.

I had only been on the river for a few minutes — my inner tube was still partially dry — when my buddy Jim looks over and says, “Hey. You’ve got a really big spider on your tube.”

Now, I grew up in a town built on a swamp, and I’ve spent a lot of time harassing the local wildlife. We’ve got these things around here called
banana spiders, which can spin a giant web, say across your front door, in about two seconds. I’ve been walking face-first into these webs and emerging sticky but unharmed about nine times a week since I was a kid, so big spiders don’t freak me out.

Calmly leaning over the front of my tube, I see the spider. It’s hard to miss — the damn thing is as big as my hand. Not to mention ugly, brown and covered in hair, just like pop singer
Ashanti without her makeup.

“Man. That is a big spider,” I say, and give a little chuckle. Jim gives a little chuckle, too. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, but he suspects that whatever it is will be plenty entertaining. “Alright, Ashanti. I’ve got nothing against you. But this is my tube, so you’re going to have to hitch a ride somewhere else.”

I purse my lips and blow a little air toward my arachnid hitchhiker. Nothing. I try again, blowing a little harder. It ripples the spider’s fur, but engenders no response. Jim smiles. I blow again, this time with more force. The spider turns to face me, as if noticing me for the first time. “Look, dude, you’re going to have to go in the water,” I say, furrowing my brow and blowing once more, this time really trying to push some air.

The spider races up the side of the tube, heading right for me, exactly like those fucking things in the Alien movies. Wisely, I let out a piercing, high-pitched scream and flop backwards. Of course, I’m in the middle of an inner tube, so heaving in that direction lifts the front of the tube, launching the giant spider toward my face at a velocity which surprises both of us. My scream ratchets up in both pitch and volume, and at the last second before the horrid beast’s fangs pierce my skull and full my brain with fiery venom, I slip through the tube and duck under the water.

I thrash around under the water for a few seconds, than pop up, out of breath and wild-eyed, and start batting around my tube, flipping, shaking and submerging it until I’m satisfied it hosts no giant spiders.

I climb back aboard, and look over at Jim. He’s incapacitated with happiness, quivering with glee at how the events played out. I get my bearings, the adrenaline stops flowing and after a minute or two my breathing starts to return to normal. Jim is still obviously delighted. Thinking about what it must have looked like, I start laughing a little as well.

“Heh heh! Whew,” I say. “Close one. Biiiiig spider! I didn’t even know I could scream that high, heh heh heh.”

A few minutes later, and I’m totally relaxed. The river is beautiful, the water is cool and the sun is shining. It’s like paradise. This type of thing is one of the reasons I put up with living in this ass-backward state in the first place. All the trees and plants and shit are pretty and green. It’s nice. I float over some fish, and think, “What’s up, fish.” I see a turtle on a log. He’s just hanging out, soaking up the sun and enjoying life. We’re not so different, me and that turtle. You know? I float past a banana spider, suspended on his web between a few branches of a nearby tree. “What’s up, banana spider,” I think. “Sorry about that scene with your spider cousin a little ways back there. I may have overreacted. But I have nothing against you spiders.” The banana spider nods. Me and the spiders are cool. In my own drowsy, mellow way, I’m beginning to feel at one with nature.

About 20 minutes later, a group of teenage girls comes floating up behind us. We can hear them swimming, gossiping and splashing for five or six minutes before they come up on us. Just a bunch of all-American girls having wholesome summertime fun. They come around a bend and see me and Jim drifting along.

All of a sudden the girls become very quiet. Before I can turn around to get a look at them, one girl’s voice shrieks out:



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