I’m Totally Cat Woman…In An Awesome, Not Creepy, Way (Part 3)
Are you ready for some more near-death experiences? I am! Hmm, I should be more specific. I’m ready to tell you about more of my near-death experiences. I’m not ready to have more of them.
Lorna’s Impressive List of Near-Death Experiences, Part 3
Circa Eager but Stupid Research Assistant: I was supposed to find old people to participate in our government-funded study. Because this was a scientific study, we had to make sure our sample was unbiased, meaning impossible to get. Our sample subjects had to be 65+ and living in their own homes that were scattered all around a 3-county area in the boonies of NYS.
We always went out in pairs with a long list of addresses of possible old people’s homes. We took turns knocking on doors or staying in the safety of the locked car. There were supposedly 4 possible outcomes of each inquiry:
- Yes. Great! An interviewer will come back to harass you.
- No. Great! You get to keep making moonshine or whatever you do out here in the land that time forgot.
- Not home. Crap! Someone has to come back to this shack and I hope it’s not me.
- Refusal. Double Crap!! You nasty, suspicious old coot! Why don’t trust this fresh-faced kid/stranger who looks like I work for the government, which, technically, I do?
There should have been a 5th category: Crap Your Pants Refusal. I knocked on a door that had a window with curtains obscuring my view of the inside. I could hear people, so I knew someone was home. I knocked again. More muttering and noise. More knocking. Silence. One more knock. The curtain parted and I was looking directly into the double barrel of a badonka rifle/shotgun/cannon. I froze for a few moments, but the sound of something mechanical, like the hammer cocking or whatever you do to get the riffle/shotgun/cannon ready to blow off a research assistant’s face, made me run. I noted that house as a definite refusal.
Circa Living in the “Broken House,” whose closest neighbor was a cemetery, which was both ironic and handy: Directly across from the “Broken House” was a vast wooded field that hunters loved to roam, especially (but not exclusively) during hunting season. I walked my dogs twice a day along the road edging that killing ground. To protect my dogs and me from being mistaken for deer, rabbit, or pheasant (which we totally resembled), I adorned all of us with orange glowy tape so we looked like we had just run through a crime scene and got caught up in the warning tape. It was an odd, but festive, look. I also sang very loudly in an attempt to warn animals to flee and hunters that there were non-shootable targets milling about.
One morning I was walking Wolfer and Jazzy on the leash, singing loudly, when I saw a tall older man standing among some trees fairly close to the road. He had his rifle/shotgun aimed at something in the woods. When he heard me, he swung his whole body around, weapon still raised until he had ME in his sights. I’ve never had voice training and my morning voice isn’t nearly as good as my afternoon voice, but, hey, is that any reason to shoot me? I stopped and assumed my typical frozen posture. He finally put his rifle/shotgun down and walked into the woods. He probably already had a blonde head mounted on his wall, but can you have too many of those in your trophy room?
Circa Girl Living in Trailer Who Should Have Been Allowed to Stay Inside: You hear about it all the time: trailer goes up in flames in matter of minutes. I think our trailer was made of some anti-news-worthy story material because it should have been charred remains (and me with it) on more than one occasion.
Trailers are fueled by, well, fuel. Big fuel tanks are hooked up to it. To a little girl with a big imagination, this tank looked like a horse ready for a good ride. Remember, we weren’t allowed to watch TV during the day and always told to “go outside and play.” Bad move. I made a regular habit of mounting my fuel tank steed and pretending I was galloping into and out of all kinds of adventures. Do you know that to make a horse gallop you have to kick it hard on its sides? That’s what I did. I kicked that fuel tank to make it “giddy-up.” It rumbled and made sloshing noises, but, lucky for me, I never kicked it into truly high gear.
Circa Teenager Living in Same Trailer Who Should Have Eaten Out More: My mom was a stickler for keeping her stove clean–even while cooking. To prevent the inevitable clean-up, she layered newspaper carefully around the entire non-flaming areas of the gas stove. It worked for her, so Tina (my older sister) thought it would work for us. I was about 13; she was about 15. It didn’t work. The newspaper caught fire. I, predictably, froze. If only I could have bottled that frozen blood and used it to put out the fire, but it didn’t work that way. Instead, Tina, always good in a crisis, called my grandmother, who lived right next door. I had never seen the old girl run until that day. Never saw her run after that day, either. But she ran that day. By the time she got there, the newspapers were fully engulfed, making us wonder if we’d missed our calling as Campfire Girls or Arsonists. My grandmother had a container of Morton Salt and started spewing a salt fountain back and forth, dousing the fire. It was elegant but messy. And it worked. We had a lot of salt and charred newspaper and other charred stuff to clean up, but we survived. A lesser trailer would have burned to the ground with me, still frozen, in it.
That makes nine lives so far. And I’m still alive. I could tell you more, but you get my point. I live a charmed a life. Always have. Always will.