I Wish You Would Step Back From that Ledge, My Friend

I’ve struggled my whole life with the phrase “red head”. Ronald McDonald has red hair. But as far as natural hair color, the “reddest” I know of is Carrot Top, and literally his hair is dark flaming orange, not red. And while there are people with a shade of brown hair that has sort of a red hue to it, those aren’t the people we give the name to. Red Heads do not exist. Only Orange Heads. But for some reason Red Head is the term that stuck, and the whole world (with the exception of me) is okay with that and doesn’t question it.

Last week I drove over the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco for the first time, having been hypnotized by the theme song montage of Full House that the Golden Gate is the most awesome bridge ever. The bridge is one of America’s most easily identified and popular landmarks. But like Red Heads, it’s not red either. It’s “international orange”. The “Golden” Gate Bridge is actually orange though most people think it’s red. Colors are confusing. The human equivalent to the Golden Gate Bridge would be a Red Head named Sunny. And then Sunny wins American Idol.

Despite its superstar status in our country, I have to admit I find the Golden Gate Bridge to be overrated. I had always imagined that it was a huge bridge that crossed miles of water. When in actuality it’s only 4/5 of a mile long. And the bridge is only one of five major bridges in the San Francisco Bay Area, and it’s not the main one.

I was surprised when I later crossed the San Francisco-Oakland Bridge a few miles away, realizing it has the same design as the Golden Gate except this is the double-decker version, over twice as long, and is painted a bland silver (because the city pretty much is consumed by a murky fog, it actually gives the bridge more of an off-white color). But no one ever pays attention to it.

Strangely, the Golden Gate Bridge is the most popular place in America (and arguably of the world) to commit suicide. According to Wikipedia, approximately one person every 14 days ends their life by jumping from the bridge. Over 1,200 deaths were confirmed by 2005 (since the bridge’s completion in 1937). The success rate of suicide for jumpers from the bridge is close to 98%, with only 26 survivors ever. Though the time it takes for a jumper to hit the water only takes four seconds, the speed of the jumpers reaches around 86 mph. Only Chuck Norris breaks necks quicker.

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