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Literary Quagmire
Wednesday, July 5, 2006   |    How To

What’s Attacking You?

by Ross Wolinsky

1. Are you reading The New York Times in a reclined position on a beach, idly sipping a cool, refreshing glass of pink lemonade?
Yes — You are not under attack. You are enjoying a relaxing afternoon at the beach.
No — Proceed to Question 2.

2. Are you drenched in cold sweat and paralyzed by fear?
Yes — You may be under attack. Proceed to Question 3.
No — You may still be under attack. Proceed to Question 4.

3. Are you the kind of person who is always drenched in cold sweat and paralyzed by fear?

Yes — If this is your normal state, chances are you’re not under attack. Proceed to question 5.
No — You’re probably under attack. Proceed to question 8.

4. Are you a British reporter?
Yes — Proceed to Question 6.
No — Proceed to Question 9.

5. Are you underwater right now?
Yes — Proceed to Question 7.
No — You’re not under attack. Get back to work.

6. Is Björk lunging at you?
Yes — You are probably British TV reporter Julie Kaufman, it is probably 1996, and you are probably under attack by Björk at an airport in Thailand. This is an incredibly rare type of attack and there isn’t much you can do about it. Guard the more sensitive parts of your face and try to think about something else, like the fact that you just discovered the secret of time travel.
No — You are safe. Have some tea.

7. Are you losing consciousness?
Yes — You are either drowning or being attacked by sharks, piranhas, squid, or some other type of vicious sea life. It’s pretty much out of your hands at this point. Godspeed.
No — You are swimming in a pool, lake or ocean. Swimming is a very pleasant activity. If you’re with someone else, see who can hold their breath longer. If you’re in a pool, kick off the wall and twist through the water. You’re not under attack—you’re a torpedo!

8. Was the sweat warm a little while ago?
Yes — You were working out in a warm gym and left without changing. It’s colder outside than it was in the gym, so your sweaty clothes are turning cold and clinging to your skin. This is different than a “cold sweat” and probably nothing to worry about.
No — Proceed to Question 10.

9. Are you surrounded by thousands of people?
Yes — Proceed to Question 11.
No — You’re fine. Go home.

10. Are you upside down?
Yes — Proceed to Question 12.
No — Proceed to Question 13.

11. Are those thousands of people wearing identical clothing?
Yes — Proceed to Question 14.
No — You are walking in a busy urban area, possibly on your way to work, shop, or to meet a friend for dinner. This is very different from being attacked.

12. Is there a spandex-covered crotch in front of your face?
Yes — You are being attacked by professional wrestler Rey Mysterio, and it’s very likely that he is about to suplex you. Try to maximize the surface area of the impact. When you get up, hit him on the head hard enough to stun him, then run with him full speed into the ropes so he bounces off of them. As he runs back the other way, clothesline him.
No — You are doing a handstand while completely terrified. Probably a bad idea, but at least you’re not being attacked.

13. Are you really drenched in cold sweat and paralyzed by fear? Tell the truth.
Yes — Go back to Question 2 then. Something got fucked up.
No — You are being attacked by boredom. Try starting a new hobby or reading your favorite book. You might consider getting a pet.

14. Is everyone wearing camouflage?
Yes — You are in some sort of army, and your platoon is under attack by enemy troops. Remember your training.
No — Proceed to Question 15.

15. Is everyone wearing Ted Nugent t-shirts?
Yes — You are probably at a Ted Nugent concert. Proceed to Question 16 with extreme caution.
No — Proceed to Question 17.

16. Is there a flaming arrow flying at your face?
Yes — You are being attacked by Ted Nugent. Duck. Try to enjoy “Stranglehold,” but make a mental note to check out that Sufjan Stevens guy everyone is talking about.
No — You are at a Damn Yankees concert. Safety at last.

17. Are you sitting down, watching a bunch of guys run around?
Yes — You are at a major sports event. Have a hot dog, drink some beers, and enjoy the game.
No — Where you are and what you are doing is a complete and utter mystery. Proceed to Question 18.

18. Are there any cabs nearby?
Yes — You’re being attacked by a bad day. Get in one of the cabs and go home. Take a nice, hot bath and watch House M.D.
No — You’re being attacked by bad timing. Stay where you are and wait for a cab to drive by, then get in it and go home. Take a nice, hot bath and watch House M.D.

Ross Wolinsky blogs at Hypocritical Mass and is currently considering getting a tattoo of a giant keytar bursting forth from the depths of the ocean.