There are several people who read my column regularly. A few more stumble across it, expecting
useful content. But unlike my fellow diligent writers, I made sure "useful" wasn’t in my contract. So I can frequently blither on about my nearly interesting life, in hopes of reaching 4,350 characters.
My point, as I recall, is some readers might have actually fallen for my clever misportrayal of my true lifestyle. Yes, I do have one, thank you very much. Past writings, however amusing, have fostered in some minds a belief that I’m little more than a gracelessly aging, hopelessly nerdy, quasi-successful farmer.
Appearances deceive, gentle reader.
My secret is out. That image is a total façade that I built to hide my secret identity: Phipps—International Man of Danger! How exciting is that? Look, I’m only using my last name like all the big celebrities—(Larry) Sting, (Cheryl) Madonna, (Bobby) Batman.
Hard as it is to believe, the mild-mannered columnist you have come to tolerate is in true life a reckless adventurer who has flirted with calamity on several continents and both high and low seas.
But with my ratings what they are and things being slow while waiting for spring to get a flight out of O’Hare airport, I’ve decided it’s time to drop the curtain, rip back the mask and disrobe the pretense to reveal enough of my awesome adventures to test whether a book deal might be feasible.
I could have chosen merely to be acclaimed as a Domestic Man of Danger, routinely facing hazards here in the 50 states, Puerto Rico and, of course, Guam. Somehow it doesn’t have the ring to it. But "perils is perils," as they say.
My parents paved the way for my glamorous career by exposing me to jeopardy at every chance. I rode bikes without helmets. I have fallen though a haymow floor onto the backs of startled steers. My parents urged me to "hurry up with the scissors."
I built my own electronic gadgets, from radios to walkie-talkies and one device that did nothing but randomly flash seven lights, using soldering irons and 110-volt current. I built tree houses entirely with used nails. I rode on sleds pulled by pickups.
I continued to show hints of derring-do as a young adult. I cleaned my gutters during thunderstorms—on an aluminum ladder, even after previously being knocked to the ground by a smidgen of static electricity.
I’ve repaired broken road tiles without calling the utility locator. I’ve filed my taxes late. Sometimes I don’t floss. I drive I-65 in Indiana. I’ve done danger, dude.
International appeal. But it is overseas that my reputation as Risktaker Extraordinaire has truly congealed. For example, I have ridden in an Italian taxi through the center of Rome during rush hour, which extends from September through the following August. I barely cried at all.