Life on the Wild Side

       I have always had self-esteem
issues because I wasnÂ’t a daredevil out risking my life at some extreme
sport or another – but those days are over for good. Two recently published
studies will now let me sleep at night in the knowledge that on a daily
basis I place both my life and the life of my loved ones at risk of injury
or death.

       My first indication that I had
taken a walk on the wild side came from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
In a recently published study the Academy reported thousands of injuries
attributed to trampolines and jungle gyms and recommended they should
never be used in homes, playgrounds or physical education courses. The
light bulb went off in my head – I own a small personal trampoline I use
for exercise. Here I thought I was simply avoiding the lower back pain
of performing calisthenics on the floor, when instead I was going for
the adrenaline rush that can only come from such imminent mortal danger.

       Similarly, I fondly remember playing
on jungle gyms and often get suckered into taking my daughter to play
on such contraptions at local parks. ThatÂ’s right, my daughter is following
in her fatherÂ’s death defying daredevil shoes. The Academy wants jungle
gyms redesigned, perhaps building them low enough so a child can always
touch the ground, but I think I like my monkey bars with the ever present
danger of falling 16 or 20 inches.

       But donÂ’t think my devotion to extreme
sports begins and ends with trampolines and monkey bars. No sir! When
IÂ’m risking my life, I try to maximize the danger the best way I know
how – I wear cotton socks.

       According to podiatrist Stephen
Pribut of George Washington University, IÂ’m playing with my health. “I
would avoid cotton socks at all costs,” Pribut told the Associated

       Pribut wants to protect people from
the horrors of blisters which I confess I get from time to time (and now
accept as a badge of honor for putting my life in danger). Pribut would
prefer I use synthetic socks, which would indeed reduce the risks of blisters
but would no longer give me the thrill I get from teetering on the edge,
never knowing when the next disaster might strike. Of course the other
problem with synthetic socks is the cost – $8 – $20 a pair. I can get
4 pairs of cotton socks for that.

       Hey I might be willing to risk my
life, but keep your hands off my wallet.

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