In just a few days, the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth will be upon us. In one of those wonderful historical coincidences, it is the same day as the 200th birthday of Abraham Lincoln — which, to me, is the more exciting and consequential celebration.
But I digress.
My son — 16 years old and some change — is a bright, hard-working boy who has been fortunate enough to travel to many interesting and sophisticated parts of the world. He is a member of the National Ski Patrol at Killington, trained in both rescue and outdoor emergency care, and gives his every winter weekend to the task of serving and protecting tender-footed suburbanites from Bergen County, New Jersey.
He is a thoughtful, clear-headed young man. But he had better hope the Theory of Natural Selection called in sick the other day.
We had had a significant mid-week snowstorm, and I asked the boy to park his car for the night in a parking area on our lower driveway, so our snowplow guy could easily clear our upper driveway overnight.
When he went out to his car the next morning to go to school, there was approximately 8 inches of snow around his car. Not enough to scare most folks in this neck of the woods; with good snow tires and front-wheel drive, he should be able to just drive away.
Of course, he simply assumed he was stuck. A small error in judgement — which we will excuse. But what came next boggles the mind.
He got in the car, and started the engine. Then, he put it in gear — “D” for drive. He got out of the driver’s seat and went to the back of the car.
And then he pushed.
Twenty minutes later, as I was leaving for work, I found him frantically trying to dig the car out of a snowbank. Or should I say, trying to dig the snowbank out from under the car, as the front wheels were no longer touching the ground.
I nearly lost it — not because of the car or its situation, but from the complete inability to comprehend how any human being could have thought what he did was a good idea. And, (mostly) from the fear that I and mine might have a genetic marker for “boneheadedness” and that the Theory of Natural Selection might come knocking on our door sooner rather than later.
So, happy birthday, Charles. If you don’t mind, I’ll just tell everyone he’s adopted.