Nine lives

On the way home from the subway yesterday, some kid on a mud bike raced toward me on the sidewalk. He almost hit me, but veered off between two cars, jumped off his bike and let go of it. The bike sailed into the air, hit the windshield of a passing car, and bounced off into the street. The car didn't even stop. It was very strange. It was almost like the guy was aiming at the car, but who knows. I said, Are you okay? Was that my fault? Another guy across the street asked the same thing. The kid didn't answer. He picked up his bike, inspected it, and walked off. So then I started wondering about how close I had actually come to being hurt; if the kid hadn't veered off, he would've hit me at full speed. That made me think of other ways I could've died in my lifetime.

1. Every kid has to almost choke on a coin. I sucked a nickel down my windpipe while watching Mutal of Omaha's Wild Kingdom when I was four or five. My uncle picked me up by my ankles and thwacked me on the back until it shot out. Then I got ice cream.

2. When I was about 6 or 7, my parents and my stepdad's boss and the boss' wife went into a bar at a Holiday Inn. The bar didn't allow kids so my mom asked me to stay outside the bar in a hallway by the vending machines while they went in for a drink or two. While I was there, some weird looking guy came over and started talking to me about how he really liked little girls and how he wished he had a little girl of his own. He actually asked me if I wanted any candy. He said he was going to go get change for a dollar from the lobby. I went into the bar and told my mom. The boss' wife came back out with me. She pretended to be having a drink of water from the fountain until he returned. He put money in the machine and tried to talk to me again. She yelled at him and told him to be ashamed of himself. He yelled back and said, I used to have a little girl of my own! I was just talking to her. He took off. I slipped my hand in the candy machine to grab the M&M's that he'd bought for me.

3. Never go into the wave pool at Adventure Island. It is not fun. It is dangerous, particularily if you're not a confident swimmer, can't see in the water, and are only four feet tall. I almost drowned at Adventure Island, or at least it felt like it. The life guard reached into the water and pulled me out. There was no need for mouth to mouth rescucitation, but I didn't go in again.

As an adult, there's only been one time that I felt the coppery taste of fear in my mouth and that was at three AM one night driving down the Tampa Causeway after acting in this weekend long mystery theatre thing (you know, where there's a loose story line and guests pay for the weekend to try to figure out who did what. I played the femme fatale. It was totally dumb and I wasn't very good at it. I spent most of my time locked up in the hotel room). A car came up out of nowhere, going way too fast, and I had to swerve off the road to avoid being hit by it. The driver was obviously drunk, swerving back and forth across the yellow lines. I waited until the tailights disappeared over the bridge before I put the car into gear. I expected to get to the other side and see the car flipped over. There was nothing.

Or how about the times you don't know about at all, when you meet or pass someone intent on doing another person harm, maybe looking for someone to hurt. Why do they pass over you? I always tell myself it's because I look like such a nice person--but not too nice, and that's why no one has ever tried to rob, kill, rape, or kidnap me. That I know of, anyway.


Anonymous said…
boy, aren't i just the comment queen today! i would like to add 2 things to the list of near-death experiences as a child:

1. sticking a fork into the toaster (which actually may not have caused death, but probably a nasty electric shock)...this reminds me also of another nasty shock that i got when i was cleaning the rollers of one of those electric hot-dog rollers that i had to operate in my job as Shop 'n Save "weenie queen," the person who stands in a little metal box outside the grocery store during the summer and dispenses 25-cent hotdogs and cokes. (and, in my case, wastes packages of buns feeding the sparrows until there were so many lined up waiting for me to open in the morning that it became a sanitary concern, and i was forced to stop). anyway, i was cleaning the rollers with water and windex, and i got such a shock that my heart actually momentarily stopped. it was unpleasant, to say the least.

2. Being, literally, on a runaway horse. I was 12 and riding my mom's stupid quarterhorse Sonny in the riding rink, which was above a busy road. the horse got freaked out by a banging screen door, jumped the fence, and took off running toward the road. i think he might have actually made it across the road--all i can actually remember is my mom yelling at ME because i didn't control him well enough. of course.