keithcancook Nearly Meets His Maker (reprise)  

keithcancook 60M
10710 posts
6/15/2005 2:07 pm
keithcancook Nearly Meets His Maker (reprise)

Hello, my friends! Here is a TRUE story from my youth.

In the summer of my seventeenth year I traveled Northern Europe for a month with a Catholic youth group. One of our first stops was Brussels, Belgium where we stayed in a youth hostel. This hostel was shaped sort of like a "C" or bracket "[ ". In the middle courtyard it was open aired and grassy, to the back there was a low stone wall topped by an iron fence. Beyond the fence was a 60 foot drop to the alley below. We sat out there, my friends and I, looking down into the alley watching children playing soccer on the cobbled street.

Later, while exploring the city I saw a billboard promoting the rock band Uriah Heep and their concert that was scheduled for that very night! Now in those days I really liked that band and the thought of seeing them in Europe was just way too cool to pass up. So I convinced my friend and 2 other girls we met as part of our tour group to go to this concert. I will skip over the part of trying to find this place in a strange city and me with only a minimum of French fluency...that was an adventure in itself...

Anyways, we found the place, enjoyed the show, had a blast and then tried to navigate home later that night. There another adventure in bus changes and wrong stops continued...

When we finally found the dang hostel where we were staying it was well past midnight. Now in those days the hostels closed at certain times and if you weren't inside then you were on your own until morning. We were in big trouble because the priests were going to be really pissed off that they had lost 4 teenagers on the second day of the trip! I am sure that there was quite a bit of consternation when we missed the head count that night.

I was in a quandary as to what to do. I didn't know my way around, there weren't any other places to stay, the females were was a bummer let me tell you.

There was still activity on the streets and folks were passing by. I tried to converse with some of them in my fractured French but was not getting anywhere. So we just started walking and not too far down the street we came to a nightclub that was going full bore with rock music and drinking. We were way underage for America but in Brussels we were served all the alcohol we wanted. We partied for three more hours until we were too tired to go on. We stumbled back to the front of the hostel and it's heavy arched wooden door. Across the street was a small church that must have been 400 years old, with a tiny cemetery attached. We went there and sat down amongst the crosses and stones to rest.

I was thinking, "This is not good. There must be a way to get in." That is when it hit me. The Courtyard of the Hostel! Of course! I remembered that the building next to that alley where the kids were playing soccer had these windows with bars on them. If someone was careful, he could climb from window to window up to the level of the courtyard and then swing over and grab the iron railing that guarded the back of the courtyard. Once there all he had to do was walk across the courtyard to the front door, open it and let the others in.

As I explained this cockamamie plan to my little group the women were all for it. (sure, let him risk his young ass so daddy's little princess won't get in trouble). Mark wasn't so certain though. He thought that the windows were too far apart. But I was tall, much taller than the others. I felt that it could be done. In fact I insisted on it. So we all walked the long twisting route down to the back of the hostel. We were down in the alley looking up at the railing of the hostel courtyard and I measured the possibilities from this new perspective. It appeared that Mark may have been right. The distance looked possible but very dangerous.

Stupid and undeterred, I announced that I was going up. I was going over, and I was going in. They were to just watch.

The windows were difficult to manage. They were shaped like arches - rounded at the top. The bars that guarded them were shaped to fit. I could just pull myself up far enough to reach the next level and I began to climb. After I cleared two stories I paused and rested, clinging tightly to the bars and hoping that they were all well anchored. It hadn't occurred to me that they may pull out of the dang building from my weight.

I looked up. Only one more level to go. I pulled myself up and was level with the courtyard. Almost. Not quite level actually, now that I was up there and could see better. The final move to be made...the one that would put me on the railing of the courtyard...was too far!!! I was long and tall but it just was a bit too far to swing from the window of my building to the hostel next door.

I looked down. There were my three friends below me watching. I decided that I couldn't make the maneuver and would have to retrace my steps. That is when I discovered that down was not an option either. At least down by climbing. Down by falling was much more likely. The windows were recessed, and the bars were fitted inside. It was like a smooth wall below me with no footholds.

I can still remember vividly the thoughts that raced through my dazed brain as I clung to that window and felt the wind blowing on my face that summer of 1973. Even as I sit here now almost 32 long years later. It was a picture of the local paper with a bold headline Youth Dies In Fall Abroad! Oh! How my heart was beating! Let me tell y'all I was feeling pretty scared all of a sudden. The alcohol was wearing off quickly with the adrenaline rush of my life being at stake, and I was thinking since I cant go down, I will have to make the attempt to swing over the long distance to my left that would put me safely home.

There was only going to be one attempt. I knew this. I was going to have to hang on the window bar with my right hand, swing my whole body over and reach out with my left hand to the next building. I could not do this without letting go of the window bar at the apex of my swing maneuver. It was right out of Arnold Schwarzenegger or The Matrix or something like that.
If I missed the railing I would continue falling to the cobbled street below.

Of course I made it. Obviously, since I lived to tell the tale. My hand found the bottom of that railing and I clung to it for dear life. I quickly brought my right hand over and now I was almost done. I had two hands firmly clutching the the iron railing, (Hell, pressing grooves in them I was hanging on so tight). My feet were dangling and my fans were cheering below. I pulled myself up and over. I was in!

I looked down at my friends. Down in the alley where the children play. Triumphantly I raised my arms ala Rocky and jumped up and down. Seriously, somebody should have been playing that music from Rocky it was such a magnificent moment for me. I called down to them and told them to start walking back and be very quiet when they tapped on the door. I lay on my back in the courtyard grass and looked up at the stars of Belgium and waited. It was going to take them at least 20 minutes to walk all the way back around to the front door of the hostel.

When I felt that they should almost be there I carefully tiptoed over to the main door. All was quiet and all were asleep. Or so I thought. Just as I heard a soft tapping at the door and was about to open it, a firm hand suddenly grasped my shoulder. Surprised, I turned around and found myself staring into the not too pleased face of Mr. Reynolds, one of the adult volunteers for our tour. He told me "This hostel does not open until 7am. You may enter it then". He then opened the door and put me out with my disheveled friends. The door closed and the lock was set again. And there I stood. Right where I was so many hours before.

I learned many lessons that night and not least among them was a lesson in irony.

papyrina 51F
21133 posts
6/15/2005 3:20 pm

i remeber this one,

where ever your going,be safe

I'm a

i'm here to stay

mnfun952 102M

6/15/2005 3:35 pm

Good thing those irony bars didn't pull away from the building...

Barbiebunny69 43F

6/15/2005 4:07 pm

Wait... I think somethin is cookin in blogville.... greeneyes is goin in for surgery and off.. and now keith is off for a new days??


expatbrit49 62M

6/15/2005 4:09 pm

DON’T PANIC……… I am working on a solution, I think what has happened is that somehow there was a Time/Space rift and you have been sucked in to a causality loop that is forcing you to relive all the crap of you past. If I cant figure out how to get you back we are all going to have to suffer though all that crap again.

Be ready to move fast buddy, as soon as I fudge the math enough so I can ignore the laws of some kind of Physics I should be able to suck you back to the present.

Thank You for Your Time and Attention

mi_mwpm 51M

6/15/2005 4:16 pm

OMG Keith, what was it with you and climbing buildings? This one didn't teach you enough that you had to go and do it again in college? I think you were really trying to become a recipient of a Darwin Award - almost all of which are awarded posthumously.


6/15/2005 5:54 pm

Be safe Keith , my thoughts and prays are with you, as I know you are
doing what you feel you must.

Hurry Back.

Luv ya

sportyfun56 106M

6/15/2005 8:56 pm

Does this mean I'm supposed to repost my really long response to this post from the first time? Now I'm thinking about that "building climbing" experience again... lol.

Take it easy man and be safe and wise...

bella_ 47F
4030 posts
6/15/2005 9:20 pm

I would have doubt about it!

slidein2meplz 61F
1994 posts
6/15/2005 10:20 pm

oh... how soon we forget those days of when we thought we knew it all.... I can remember a few really stupid stunts, like the time my best friend and I snuck out her window...and trapsed all over the foothill's the middle of the friggin night... and it was cold...and dark.... but was fun..way back in the early 70's...and how we had to dive into a wash to keep from being seen by a cop patroling the area...and I started giggling so hard she shoved dirt in my mouth to keep me we wouldn't get caught.... then there was the time...we told our parents... we were going to a basketball game...and really there wasn't... we lied.. so we could go to a desert boonie party...but before we got her brother to drive us to the school...we snuck into the storage room my parents garage...and stole 3-4 jars of homemade wine...and after he let us out....and we found our way to the party... we both got sicker than hell on the wine....and nearly got busted...... and the time a bunch of us climbed the wall to a neighborhood the middle of January....and went skinny dippin....and then.....

LOL...wasn't it fun!!

~~~ Just me, poppin to say HI! ~~

obedientsub2005 48F
61 posts
6/16/2005 4:46 am

Again, I think it is something with those sexy Catholic guys and climbing... my best friend did the same thing when he was abroad in Italy... with the exchange program from his Catholic college... amazing... such a rush... to live your entire life in a single moment... THIS is what total freedom is...

Maybe it is also what we are all running towards as we seek intoxicating sexual experiences... isn't it all just the same thing, really?

I am laughing so hard... you tell a wonderful story, Keith... I was at the edge of my seat... the comic ending is more brilliant because it is so true...

Kisses dear sir...

sexyeyes375 47F

6/16/2005 6:32 am

I wish there was a picture of your face when the door was locked behind you.......did you get a girl in the end of this story? I mean, you worked so were in a foreign were a horny young stud....

Barbiebunny69 43F

6/16/2005 9:52 am

I think hes spidermans cousin if u ask me

hardcopy75 41M
47 posts
6/18/2005 12:16 am


Crimson959 57F

6/18/2005 2:26 pm

Terrific story Keith....we Catholics like to live on the wild side.


rm_EE407 41F
3903 posts
6/19/2005 4:02 am

Please try to be safe.. lol

cajunpet 70M
1185 posts
6/19/2005 9:40 pm

Hel ~ la ~ cious story Keith,

*Off Topic*
Clampett Family Truck - The 1921 flatbed Oldsmobile four-cylinder truck with roped-down hood and glass-less headlights seen at the beginning of each episode of the sitcom THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES/CBS/1962-71. When the poor mountaineer, Jed Clampett, (Buddy Ebsen) discovered oil on his Ozark property "he loaded up his truck and he moved to Beverly. Hills, that is, swimming' pools, movie stars." As to the ownership of the truck, according to Jed "Strictly speaking, it belongs to my cousin Pearl. But I can keep it as long as I keep cousin Jethro."

The original truck (a touring car whose body had been hacked off from behind the front seat) sported a platform with a bench where Granny and Elly May rode. The back of the truck stored the family rocking chair, washtub, shotgun and other personal items. The car's rusted exterior finish also sported a faded advertisement sign for the Fontana Feed Store.

The first season of The Beverly Hillbillies featured several appearances by 1962 and 1963 Mr. Drysdale's Chrysler Imperial LeBarons.

Take care.
Keep On Blogging!!!! Have a great day.

Cajun Pet

missy973 47F

6/20/2005 1:33 am

I can totally see you doing this.

GleesFlakyShawl 50M
1620 posts
6/20/2005 11:38 am

keith, another nice post from the blogger formerly known as

taodoug65 51M
262 posts
6/20/2005 12:42 pm

That truly was a fine story to read. With permission of course (which I will just wait for) I would like to print out your story and use it for a campfire story. Course I will not lie to you. When my kids come home from spending the summer with my ex I will have memorized it and put myself in your place. (THEY KNOW IT IS A STORY BUT IT SOUNDS BETTER A THE FIRE WHEN PUTTING YOURSELF IN THE REAL CHARACTERS SPOT).
You see.. On friday's and Saturday's when my teenage kids are with me. We go down to the lake with their friends, I fish, they swim, and when lips turn blue they all gather around the fire that I started to get warm, and dry. Then it is time for me to stop fishing and tell a story or two. ANd this would be awesome


keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
6/20/2005 2:47 pm

I will be honored to pass this story over to you. Storytelling is a fine art and campfires are wonderful for displaying such art. One way to achieve immortality I suppose...

Thankyou for the compliment taodoug65!

Puurple_Passions 46M/39F
140 posts
6/20/2005 7:26 pm

What a great story Keith! WOW!! Talk about living on the edge of a prayer! You've got guts, man! Stay safe from now on, will ya?!?

~Passions~ (The F of the C)

duststormdiva 51F
6854 posts
6/21/2005 1:10 am

What an awesome story! I loved the fact that you still always took the chance to get caught again and again, and the chaperones just slapped your hands. I never had the guts to do something that wild when I was younger. How I envy not taking more chances when I was younger.


redswallow777 48M
6810 posts
6/22/2005 12:46 pm

Thanks for repeating the story....missed it the first time.

mmwants 44F

6/22/2005 5:54 pm

I love this story!

toothysmile 50M
16515 posts
10/14/2005 8:12 am

Another lesson you could have learned is that had you come to Greece, you wouldn't have that problem... Youth hostels are open 24 hours... I used to live right next door to two of them. One was called "Hotel California"!...

LOL... great story, Keith, thanks...

keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
10/30/2005 10:21 pm

Hullo there toothy! Thanx for visiting this old post!

keithcancook 60M
17718 posts
3/4/2007 8:26 pm

    Quoting spunky11961:
    Jeez, talk about a trip down memory lane! I'm deep in the bowels of your basement here....Ya got balls that's for sure... sux that the end result wasn't the goal ya sought but right back at the point ya started from~
Hey! Ya followed my link! Thanks, spunky!

PS: My basement is very very dear to me. I have fond memories of the folks I have blogged with...

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