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Spoofs & Satire

Go Climb a Tree

When all you want is get away from it all, just grab a branch, hoist yourself up, and leave your troubles below.

Oregon State University Archives

If you’ve ever longed to temporarily escape life’s constant pressures, there’s nothing quite so liberating as climbing a tree. The instant your feet leave the ground, you’ll find yourself transported back to a simpler, more manageable time. A time when anything was possible.

So go on. Reach for that lowest branch and haul yourself up. Even from here, just a few feet higher than your usual perspective, things already seem different, don’t they? You can feel the weight sliding off your shoulders. The fact that you’ve been out of work for three years no longer feels like the end of the world.

But that’s just the beginning. Go a little higher. It’s amazing how easy it comes back to you, isn’t it? No different than riding a bike.

Now you’re fifteen feet above the ground and the view has changed considerably—much like your view of life is already changing. You can see a man walking his collie farther off in the park, but don’t let that interrupt the progress you’re making. You had no choice but to sell Sparky. Sure, the kids were heartbroken, but dogs are expensive. Plus, the guy who bought him threw in an extra $20 for the leash, bowl and various pet supplies. It saved you a trip to the pawn shop that day.

Put it out of your mind. Climb higher and let go of that weight, too.

Now you’ve spotted a couple in the distance, lounging on a blanket. The woman is blond, like Linda, but don’t let that get you down. Linda’s another reason you came up here, so just do your best to forget her. Forget the nasty divorce and custody battle. Forget the 10 months of overdue alimony and child support, and the threatening calls from her attorney.

Put all of it out of your mind and keep moving.

You’re at the midpoint of the tree, and what’s that you see now? Police officers fanning out into the park? Don’t worry about them. How are they going to find you all the way up here? Besides, it’s not as if you still have the bag of cash on you. You were forced to stash it in the Dumpster behind the bank, just after you made a break for it. And even if they do spot you, so what? You’re just some 40-year-old guy climbing a tree, transporting himself back to a simpler, more manageable time. Nothing wrong with that, is there, officer?

Still, it might have been wise to lose the ski mask at some point. Take it off now and stuff it in that bird’s nest over there. Good. Now go higher and try not to make so much noise. Too late. They’ve spotted you.

Ignore the bullhorn. It’s just another irritating reminder of the pressures you’re successfully leaving behind. Keep climbing.

The trunk is getting thinner this far up, the branches denser and harder to navigate. Don’t let that deter you. Keep going, keep going, and there! You’ve reached the top, within spitting distance of the police chopper and the guy inside it aiming his tranquilizer gun. Don’t dwell on it. Just take the pistol out of your jacket and fire a few warning shots into the air—or better yet, into the chopper’s engine.

See? He’s flying off, leaving a trail of smoke. Isn’t it amazing how insignificant life’s difficulties become once you stop focusing on them, granting them the power to affect you? You’ve made it. Nothing, no one, can touch you anymore. It’s all so far away. A thousand miles below you. None of it matters. Not even the sound of the chainsaw starting up. It’s just an annoying buzz far in the background.

Put it out of your mind.

Ralph Gamelli has been published in The Big Jewel, McSweeney’s, Monkeybicycle, and Yankee Pot Roast. This is the part where he’s supposed to put down some little joke, but as always he refuses to bow to societal expectations. More by Ralph Gamelli