Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

Terror at 24 inches

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Between a wall and hard place (another wall).

Our town of Providence, Rhode Island isn’t known for much. The birthplace of American religious freedom in the colony founded by Roger Williams, the world’s 4th-largest unsupported dome, some crooked politicians, and an ad for a local pest control business in the form of an enormous blue termite overlooking the highway. But now we have something we can truly be proud of: a girl who managed to get herself wedged so firmly in an 8-inch wide gap between two buildings that it took dozens of police and firefighters over an hour to free her.

Last Friday, Courtney Malloy, a 22-year-old woman in a state of considerable refreshment, went out the back door of a restaurant and made the inexplicable decision to try forcing herself through a passage no more than 8 inches across, as an unnecessary shortcut to the street. And, with an indomitable will to prevail over the forces of physics and common sense, she managed to push herself into the narrow space so vigorously that she was totally unable to free herself.

So far, you’re thinking, well, that’s a little stupid and unlikely, but it’s not THAT strange. And you’re right, except that every further detail just raises more questions. How is it even possible for an adult to get herself stuck in something in such a way that she cannot become unstuck? Did she expand? How can someone become stuck in such a way that firefighters couldn’t simply pull her out? (They had to break through one of the walls from the inside-out to get to her). When the firefighters got there, she had no idea how she’d gotten stuck— whether she walked into the alley, or fell from the roof of one the 3-story buildings that form the alley (it was later revealed that she started on ground level). And then, most importantly, there’s the fact that they found her wedged in there horizontally and 24 inches off the ground. Let me repeat that: horizontally and two feet off the ground. Like an extremely low-flying, drunk and bewildered Superman.

Someone pushed themselves into a space far to narrow to accommodate them, thought “this isn’t working” and proceeded to keep trying. In this way, no other news story in the past year more richly deserves  to be written about on Aitch-Bar, a blog that is to bullshit as narrow alleyways are to confused college students.

Indeed, no other story so adequately expresses the essence of the American dream, that looks at life and says “I bet I can jam more stuff into this.” It’s the spirit that built the iPhone, that invented the spork, that made that pizza with cheese inside the crust. Every time a middle-aged woman tries fitting herself into her old pair of leather pants, every time a child tries pushing together two non-interlocking lego pieces, every time a father looks at a thanksgiving turkey and asks himself “how many more birds can I shove in this thing?” this spirit is renewed. Even Rhode Island itself, wedged tightly as it is into the confined space between Massachusetts and Connecticut, is an embodiment of it. And as the personification of this spirit, Courtney Malloy deserves to be honored with a full sized statue, which will then be ceremonially wedged into that now famous alleyway, so that future generations can squint at it through a narrow tunnel and reflect on how THEY can make the world a better place…through shoving.


Author: (Ryan) Michney

Dread Astronomer

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