July 04, 2008
Testing Your Mettle
By David E. Petzal and Phil Bourjaily
There are very few things I believe in absolutely anymore, but one of them is, if you want to see what someone is really made of, go big-game hunting with them. There is something about the combination of wilderness, physical effort, the high likelihood of failure, and the constant presence of Murphy (he of the law) that brings out the best and worst in people.
Those who reveal themselves to be prize s***s will usually do so when someone else shoots something really terrific--particularly if that person is a beginner, or inept, or otherwise undeserving. You will see an instant personality change in the prize s**t. He will cease speaking, keep to himself, snap at his fellows, and insult the undeserving nimrod.
"Pure luck," he will say, or "Did you know what you had when you pulled the trigger?", or "You'd never do that again in a million years."
The other condition that turns some people into prize s***s is BEING OUT OF TOUCH, or its corollary, NOT BEING IN CONTROL OF EVENTS. When they discover that their Blackberrys and cell phones are no longer functional, they come unglued. They are the ones who go stomping through the woods, cell in hand, trying to find a few bars, wondering what is going on, and how the earth is managing to spin on its axis without their constant input.
Years ago, Gary Sitton and I were on a trail ride in western Montana, taking in some of the most wonderful scenery on earth. On the horses ahead of us rode two younger men, jabbering nonstop about computers. Gary and I just smiled at each other; we knew we were in the presence of fools.