Note: This opinion is part of a point-counterpoint responding to: “Every summer, hundreds of boating enthusiasts in the US drown as a direct result of drunken negligence. Is this Darwinism taking its course, or should we work harder to protect people from their own poor judgement?” See Morgan Hodder’s response.
Summer time is when the living is easy, if we are to believe the lyrics of Bradley Nowell, and it is no surprise that along with the summer heat comes the need to cool off. We are lucky to live next to a body of water as expansive and refreshing as Lake Washington; I’ve always spent about half my summer in, on, around or near our great Northwest watering hole.
However, as long as people have had leisurely activities that help them forget their troubles, throw inhibition to the wind and abandon all sense of care and caution, there has been natural selection waiting for its opportunity to remove negligence and belligerence from the gene pool. We are, after all, subject to the tides and currents of the river Styx.
Alcohol has lent a helping hand. Maybe Darwin took that into account, the notion that boats and booze might just speed up the process, with summer time serving as a catalyst of natural selection. If you think driving a ton of steel and fiberglass on water is any different than driving a ton of steel and glass on land, Darwin says “maybe you shouldn’t have kids”; I say you like having a good time and haven’t yet found the edge or had a near death experience.
Last summer, my friend and I were gassing up his dad’s boat when a bunch of young people floated by on what I could only distinguish was a floating dock. They had what looked like five or six wooden stacking crates strapped together, somehow miraculously afloat, barley hovering at water level.
In between the deck chairs, beer cooler and Weber grill was a small motor that pushed them along at a walking pace. At first glance, it looked like a good idea: slow, flat, weighing far less than a ton…clearly not a danger to anyone. “You guys aren’t worried about all the other drunken bastards cruising around out here?” I asked. “Hell no” replied the kid manning the engine, “we have plenty of wood to knock on [knocking his knuckles on the deck].”
I will take liberty, on behalf of Darwin and the ferrymen of the river Styx, to say this really wasn’t a bad way to go. The flip side is that any other captain who had a few too many bud lights could easily have plowed right through their little contraption.
Yes, there are so no solid wins in the realm of natural selection. The ferrymen of the river Styx hold the important task of delivering the dead to the underworld. What if they tossed back a few every time they were about to hit the river and go on the clock?
Accidentally returning souls back to the living world, over populating the earth with people no longer afraid of eternity after too many near death experiences with drunken deckhands of the afterlife.
Some say modern medicine has cancelled natural selection, but as long as there is no cure for instant death via boating accident, natural selection will have its way with us.
So keep your longnecks and twist off caps out of the hands of the person at the helm, and you should be free to puke over starboard side all night long without worrying for your immortal soul.