Last night some friends and I started talking about dangerous situations we've been in, especially things that happened when we were kids: accidents that almost happened, dangerous and potentially fatal outcomes that were just barely avoided, and situations that we never even knew were dangerous until later. The stories were both creepy and fun, and I thought it'd be fun to post mine here (even though they were nothing compared to what's almost happened to a couple of my friends) and find out if other forumers have similar experiences to share.
My first one involves a close encounter with dangerous wildlife.
When I was a kid I was fascinated by snakes, spiders and similar critters that other people find scary or repulsive. We have two snake species where I live: one is a poisonous adder, the other is a harmless relative of the garter snake. They are usually easy to tell apart, unless it's dark or the snake is swimming.
I was around six years old I think, playing on the small beach at our summer house, when I noticed a snake swimming nearby. I was a huge book nerd even at that age, and knew almost everything about snakes. I knew, for example, that the natural habitat of the non-poisonous snake is near water, and that they like to bury their eggs in beaches and riverbanks, and that they are excellent swimmers. Unfortunately, knowing these facts gave rise to some pretty fallacious reasoning: because the harmless snakes live near water and can swim, then the poisonous ones do not live near water and cannot swim. Why? Because they're the yin to the other snake's yang or something. Kids have strange logic. In any case, I figured the swimming snake I saw must be of the harmless variety, and I wanted to catch it.
If I had just chased after the snake in the water, my mother would probably have glanced up from her book and stopped the madness. Instead, I decided the best way to catch the snake would be to stalk it quietly until it stops and then grab it. As it happened, the snake swam up to the beach and crawled under a small pile of rocks just behind my mother's back. I closed in, noticed the tail of the snake still sticking out from under the pile, promptly grabbed it, and pulled the snake out into the sunlight.
The first thing I noticed about the thing trashing about in my arms was how strong and slippery it was: I couldn't get a solid grip on it. Then I noticed the distinctive sawtooth pattern on its back; the hallmark of the poisonous adder.
"MOM!" I screamed, and the snake fell from my hands, immediately vanishing under the rocks again.
My mother looked up from her book. "What is it, honey?"
But even in my shock I had some sense left.
"Nothing", I said.
My other brush with potentially life-threatening danger was a lot less exciting, but much more of a shock. I must have been five years old or so. It was winter, with lots of snow, and my mother and I were taking a walk around our home town. We stopped at a corner, waiting to cross the street. I had a long woolen muffler wrapped around my neck, its ends flapping in the wind. My mom thought I was standing too close to the traffic and reached out to pull me back a bit, and right then a truck roared past, really fast, and the muffler got caught in its back bumper somehow.
The way the muffler was tied, it should
have dragged me with it; it probably would have broken my neck. Instead, it just came loose. I barely felt it. One moment it was around my neck, the next it was billowing behind a speeding truck, with me and my mother staring at it in shock. Then she picked me up and started crying, and I had no idea the muffler was that
important to her.
It took years before I really understood just how dangerous that situation was. It's been over twenty years, and my mother still has nightmares about it.
Sorry about making them so long. Got kind of carried away there.