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The frozen Pnårp

Last thing I remembered on October 24, 2010.

Whereas last week was filled was contrasts, this week was simply filled with water: A vast, gray, unending expanse of icy, icy water known as the Atlantic Ocean—and the near death by freeze-drowning of yours truly, Phillip Norbert Årp!

Anyone who read of my plunge into the Thattagawatchee River strapped to a gurney last week—and who isn’t a complete, blithering idiot—can of course quickly conclude how this came about. But of course, you would be wrong! For, you see, the Thattagawatchee doesn’t drain into the Atlantic—it drains into another river, which drains into another, which drains into another, and another, and another… which eventually drains into the Atlantic. So, there, mister smarty-pants! Pnårp showed you!

Anyway, after being washed about two hundred yards (107 smoots plus one leg) down the Thattagawatchee River, my terrifyingly filibusterous riverine journey came to an abrupt halt atop a jagged rock. Fortunately, my sudden and newtonful impact on the pointiest portion of this rock resulted in no injuries other than a ruptured toenail. And to make matters even less worse, the impact broke me free of the gurney upon which those Harshbarger Hospital quacks had confined me!

But, making matters much, much more worse, upon attempting to clamber up the rock in order to begin squealing at the top of my lungs for help, I discovered that my legs not only refused to function, but had apparently not even made it quite this far down the raging Thattagawatchee. Not since Pope John Paul II, in a particularly frantic bout of psychosis, had canonized every male citizen of Goobertown, Arizona, had I been so flabbergastedly stupefied. I realized, however, that if I didn’t quickly recover my wherewithal, far more than my legs would be in danger: My very nose would be at stake.

Fortunately, my wherewithal was within reach, having been snagged on another rock outcropping about ten yards (5 smoots plus one arm) away. Unfortunately, these were ten yards upstream, and without being in possession of my wherewithal, I wouldn’t be able to travel so much as a single yard (0.5 smoots plus one pinky) without entering into an incontinent fit of panic.

As I clung legless to the pointy rock, water rushing by me faster than even Pope John Paul II could dole out sainthoods, I began to formulate a plan. The little wheels inside my skull spun madly, putting pieces together, and… Ha! I had it! I knew just what do to! Now, all I needed was a crowbar, a crow bar, a six-pack of ducks, a case of self-sealing stem bolts, some crotchfruit, and, time permitting, a copy of the 1957 edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica autographed by Rory Calhoun and Jada Fire.

Looking frantically about me, I located a patch of crotchvegetables growing along the river’s shore, but no crotchfruit were to be found. In fact, I wasn’t even sure if they grew in this part of the country, let alone in late October. Damn! Now what!?

Formulating another plan, even amidst my rising panic, took only moments, but I quickly dismissed that plan too when I realized that finding a fnordsmith at this hour would be even less likely than finding crotchfruit this time of year. It looked as if my occasional martial enthusiasms and censures of supine neutrality wouldn’t be getting me out of this one any time soon. I had two choices: Either go mad from the revelation or flee from the light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.

Madness it was—I let go of my jagged, sedimentary little savior, and, leaving behind my wherewithal forever, allowed myself to be carried out to sea.

After about ten miles (9.5 kilosmoots), the Thattagawatchee River emptied into the Whatanamagansett, which after another long and smootful distance ended at the Umbagungamagoggaquot, where the water was sufficiently deep that instead of casting me about like a rag doll and hurling me against every pointy rock in sight, the current slowed enough to allow me to merely float along serenely like a bloated corpse. So, float like a bloated corpse I did.

Great Galoob’s Ghost! Not only had my legs and my entire wherewithal been left behind, but now both my arms had joined them! Damn these rivers and their pointy, pointy rocks!

Days passed, and one river drained into another, and eventually my armless, legless, wherewithout body finally made its way into the Atlantic Ocean, with me still trapped inside. Somewhere near where the Oskeewhageetchum River had joined the Hoosiewhatsits I had begun having out-of-body experiences, imagining myself floating not along unpronounceable rivers but a tunnel of pure silver light, where the garden gnomes peeped out of brilliant golden doorways and tittered at me like little girls still in their pigtails. But alas, these experiences were mere hallucinations, a fact of which I was made horrifyingly aware when I was dragged back into reality by a pair of crows perched on my forehead pecking at my corneas.

“Hey! Hey, hey! I’m not dead yet! Stop that!” I squealed, shrill as Rebo and Zooty at a squirrel-knocking contest. The carrion birds paid no attention. “C’monnnn! Go find your own cadaver! This one’s mine!”

Darkness fell and broke its hip, and, since the Sun had been quite high in the sky mere moments before, I was forced to conclude that these nasty little birds had succeeded in pecking out both my corneas! Clearly, another round of panicked shrieking was in order: My voice ran the full gamut of octaves faster than Ms. Fire’s buttocks bouncing at a Bang Bros convention.

Not even Mr. Wilson’s flower pots could help me this time, I finally admitted, but only after I realized that I had begun sinking. It looked like this was it. I couldn’t recall having left my buoyancy behind somewhere, but obviously I had. Perhaps it was snagged on the same rock which had torn my wherewithal from me. Or perhaps that laughable little planet Bronson Alpha had stolen it. Anyway, it didn’t matter.

Armless, legless, wherewithout, and now denser than the icy, icy water surrounding me for a thousand miles (1 megasmoot) on each side, my Pnårpy little body began to sink. And freeze. Hypothermia embraced me like the freezing cold embrace of 17,543,940,979,332,434 gallons (13,474.564 kilosmoots3) of water—because that’s exactly what was embracing me.

Freezing… sinking…

Sinking and freezing… dying…