Public Relations is not all champagne and cleavage, my friend.
It can get bloody.
And I’m not talking about hand-to-hand combat with a savage pack of feral journalists.
That’s sissy stuff.
I’m talking about taking on Mother Nature … mano y mano … even if she is a girl.
Combat P.R. is no place for hemophiliacs.
It involves massive blood loss, and the most savage mosquitoes on the planet.
Mosquitoes big enough to screw a chicken standing flat-footed.
Strong enough to suck a bowling ball through a soda straw.
We’re talking serious damn mosquitoes.
And, yes, we did battle with these blood-sucking monsters more than 20 years ago.
An oil industry client owned a small, overgrown island in the Houston Ship Channel.
They decided to donate the island to the Texas Department of Conservation as a wildlife preserve.
Our P.R. company’s job was to generate maximum positive publicity for the give-back.
The modest budget covered world-class photography.
But there was a cost beyond dollars and cents.
There was blood money.
It was your correspondent’s job for three mornings in a row to:
a) tow a very small aluminum boat to the boat ramp and get it into the ship channel
b) deliver a National Geographic photographer, his assistant and the Italian Stallion Art director to the
island before dawn
c) bring them all back alive after dusk
d) requiring that there be no collisions with ginormous freaking oil tankers.
Strangely, we were on dry land when a tanker almost killed us.
On Day One, I made the bone-headed decision to beach the boat on the sand, just off the channel.
Which would have been just fine.
Except that when the first tanker plowed by, it kicked up a 5-foot wake that literally hurled the aluminum boat and yours truly about 35 feet into the island.
We survived, despite collateral damage to a rib.
Then spent 12-16 hours a day on the island, in murderous Texas heat and humidity.
We have to give full marks to the photographer.
Not only did he get incredible photos (that we sequenced to produce an inexpensive but awesome wildlife “video”), he was never distracted by massive blood loss.
And when we say “massive blood loss”, we are not kidding.
There must have been 900 million bazillion katrillion hajillion freaking mosquitoes on that island.
They had not eaten in years.
They were thrilled dinner had been delivered.
If I didn’t know better, I would have thought the cans of OFF! we applied were filled with barbecue sauce, because the mosquitoes just lapped it up.
And came back for seconds.
Bloody Damn Mosquitoes
We counted more than 100 bites on my body at the end of the first day’s shoot.
Lesson learned. We may look stupid, but we’re really not.
On Day Two, we came ready for battle: Rocker hat, camo netting, sunglasses, three layers of shirts, thick pair of pants, chest waders, leather gloves, and the foulest, most environmentally unfriendly mosquito repellent on the planet.
Seriously, if you need to blame someone for causing global warming, it’s our fault.
That mosquito repellent was global defoliation in a can.
And yet, you had to respray every 15 minutes to get any protection at all.
Mostly it just pissed off the mosquitoes and made them even hungrier.
We forgot to spray the photographer once and soon realized the back of his black shirt was covered with hundreds of mosquitoes doing their best to drain him dry.
Yet he kept shooting right up until the moment he tragically died of blood loss.
Well, he almost died.
On Day Three, after shooting at least 10,000 rolls of film, the Italian Stallion Art Director and the National Geographic Photographer were worried.
They were afraid they didn’t have enough “Hero Shots”.
Hero Shots are Killer, Hot Damn, Sumbich Photographs that are so awesomely good that they win awards and prevent clients from complaining about exorbitant expenses for mosquito repellent and band-aids.
So they decided to hire a helicopter.
To take bird’s eye views of the island’s flora and fauna.
Because that is what Italian Stallion Art Directors and National Geographic Photographers do.
We have no complaints, though, because they did get the Killer, Hot Damn, Sumbich, Hero Shots that won awards and ensured we all got paid.
But the best thing about the helicopter was that — thanks to the .50-caliber machine guns mounted on the sides — we got our payback, blasting millions of Kamikaze mosquitoes.
Blood for blood.
That’s Combat P.R. on the Houston Ship Channel.
Where we love the smell of napalm in the morning.
Click HERE for free Hog Tweets from HogsAteMySister and proof that I am not kidding about the Big-Enough-To-Screw-A-Chicken-Standing-Flatfooted Mosquitoes.