I am not an outdoorsman.

Oh, I’ve made a few feeble attempts to up my Manliness Quotient from time to time, such as joining the Boy Scouts. I’ll tell you this much – I wasn’t exactly Boy Scout material. I was fat, slow, and I abhorred the outside like a rapper hates broad daylight. I only got one badge, and it was for something like basket weaving or sleeping or Atari or something equally sedentary. The one excursion we went on was to go fishing at a man-made lake in our town. As I am prone to doing, I got there late, and the group had already left. Well, being 12 and fat and completely against exercise, I figured it would be a fantastic idea to walk around the lake to try to find the troop. Although it was man-made, that lake wasn’t a punk – it was HUGE, and there was no sidewalk or anything. I had to constantly be on the lookout for water moccasins, alligators, quicksand (seriously), and snapping turtles.

And I walked that bitch.

It took me 3 hours to get all the way around it, and of course, I never once saw my Boy Scout troop. I think they tricked me, just to get me to exercise. My fat ass managed to hobble to a liquor store that a friend of my mom’s owned, and I used her phone to call my mother – who wasn’t home. This was well before the advent of the cellular phone, folks – this was 1984. If somebody wasn’t home, and you didn’t know where they went, forget it. You’d never find them. You had a better chance of finding a long-lost wealthy cousin with a penchant for giving away funds than finding the actual person you were seeking. Did I mention that my mom’s friend’s name was…Piggy? PIGGY? I am not shitting you. To this DAY, she’s Piggy. And her daughter was called Li’l Momma. Yeah. I walked to PIGGY’S (which was right up the block from Piggly Wiggly) to use the phone, only to discover that THAT’S the moment my mom picked to go run errands or whatever. I be damned. So, after walking for 3 hours, with legs of lead and lungs of molten lava, I then had to walk all the way home from there, too. Another 4 miles. I certainly got my exercise that day – hell, that was a year’s worth of cardiovascular, for my fat ass – and I immediately quit the Boy Scouts. Bastards. Damn if I was gonna let them molest MY black ass. There’s no merit badge for anal rape. Well, not in my troop, at least.

Fast forward 13 years. My buddy Chef had been talking about going whitewater rafting for months. “Oh, Damian, you gotta try it. The adrenaline rush is like no other. It’s so relaxing. It’s you versus nature.” Fuck nature. I had no beef with her. He knew good and damn well I wasn’t about to go on that trip, but he didn’t let that deter him from his Satan-assigned task of recruiting me. There was no way I was going, so it was entertaining to me to hear him go on and on about it. For a while. Soon, though, the sounds of Wonderful Rafting began boring into my brain like that insect from “Star Trek: The Wrath Of Khan”. I wanted it to stop. I wanted to hit him for bringing it up. I wanted…to go. Dammit, it DID sound like fun! He assured me there would be no swimming involved (being black and all, not liking to partake of the swimming), and no real danger – just a bunch of folks riding in a raft down a river. Hell, why not? Even I can simply float without mishap, right? So I finally broke down and said yes.

Not wanting to go alone (I didn’t count Chef, since he was the one dragging me into this), I convinced CabanaBoy to go with me. He had never been rafting either, so I figured we could be co-newbies on this adventure with nature. Now, the river we were to be rafting down was about a 4 hour drive away. Naturally, I was running late, and by the time CabanaBoy and I left for the place, we had only 3 hours to get there. We made the first leg, 145 miles from Greenville, SC to Atlanta, in about 90 minutes. We were rolling, man. We got to the rafting site with only minutes to spare. After greeting and gearing up, we got on a bus with the others and rode up a mountain to the launch site. The fun began.

Me and Cabanaboy.

In the woods of Tennessee and northern Georgia.


With a bunch of white people.

On the river where “Deliverance” was filmed. Did I mention that before? No? Well. Let THAT soak in.

As we rode up the mountain, I noticed this HUGE waterfall roaring to my right. I asked, half-jokingly, “We don’t have to go down THAT thing, do we?”

Chef: “What’re you talking about? Of course we do. We’re going above it, aren’t we?”
Me: “Don’t fuck with me, Chef. I’m serious. Do we go over that or not?”
Chef: “If you don’t believe me, believe gravity. We ARE going above it, and our shit IS back down the river. How do you think we’ll get there, hmm?”
Me (scared): “Hey, somebody, do we go over that? Be serious, ’cause I think I’m gonna get real black up in here if we do.”
Everybody: “Yeahsurelooksthatwayuhhuhyoubetnobigdealdon’tbeababyyou’llbefinepunkass.”
Me: (to Chef): “I swear to every God in the sky, I’m kicking your ass for this. Don’t laugh. I’m not EVEN bullshitting. That’s your ass.”

So, after feeling my stomach constrict to the size of a walnut, and my balls leave my scrotum and take up residence somewhere near my adam’s apple, I resigned myself to the fact that we were going over that 20 foot drop, thinking surely no one has died doing this.



The roaring got louder. It was coming from the river, and from inside my own head. I was gonna die.

To be continued…