– Peter Straub
With this attitude of awesomeness, friends and acquaintances ask me about why I don’t do this or that. Well, I am stopped in some cases by little childhood traumas. My stories usually start with, “Well, I was traumatized when…”
I do hope to overcome not my fears, but my very valid concerns, to once again take up activities that gave me pleasure or could in the future. In the meantime, for reference, I find it might be helpful to list a few of the things I don’t do until that beautiful day, when I can do them.
Why I don’t…
I was a late bloomer when it came to learning to ride a bike, but after my dad finally accomplished what then seemed impossible and taught me to ride a bike, I was always on it. My parents decided to take me to the mountains so I could bike on some of the easy roads. I think I was about nine or ten years of age. Tender youth. Mistake number one was one my dad admits to – we overfilled my tires. Mistake number two was underestimating the decline on the road. My parents got in their truck and were going to lead me down the road. So, I see the truck start to move forward, and I get on my bike. Truck picks up a little speed, and the bike does to without any effort. Then, all I remember is seeing dust behind the truck in front of me, and a blur where the pedals usually are. I couldn’t catch a pedal, so my legs were in the air. Speaking of air, I had so much coming at me that I can hardly breathe, but between gasps I started screaming for Mom and Dad to stop and save me. We reached the end of the road, the truck stopped, and I jumped off my bike to the ground. I was furious. I started yelling at my parents for foresaking me. Mom looked surprised, and Dad said they had no idea I needed help. I said,
“Didn’t you hear me screaming?”
Mom replied, “We thought you were singing!”
“The ‘Mom, Dad, Stop, I’m Going to Die’ song?!?!?”
More than being scared, I was offended that my parents thought my vocal talents were on par with hoarse screaming. I could have died that day.
Go to the Zoo
Oh yes, they’re pretty and exotic, but some peacocks are pure evil.
Let me start by explaining that I was raised on a racehorse training facility that had all manner of animals, not just thoroughbreds and quarter horses. I was a very small child when this happened, but I remember it as if it ’twas yesterday.
Dad was building a chicken coop, and I was supervising the project. He was hammering nails. It was a sunny day. Dad was wearing a white “work” t-shirt and had just turned to focus on hitting the next nail on the head when…
I felt a huge weight on my shoulders…literally. I looked at my shoulder and saw a huge claw. Then came shooting pain in my forehead. Next thing I remember is being swept up by Dad and he ran into the house. What had happened (explained to me later) was that a forocious monster of a male peacock known for chasing people without reason (other than his evil inclination to do so) landed on my shoulders and started pecking my forehead.
Dad sat me on the counter and began to use his shirt as a compress. I don’t remember pain at all, but facial wounds spurt out a lot of blood. The sight of the blood, Dad trying to fix the problem and obviously failing (my conclusion because I was seeing blood), had me screaming “MOM!!!”
Nowadays, when I am dragged to the zoo, I show no interest in the peacocks. When I see one, I may take a few steps back. Peacocks are always just everywhere at zoos, so if the zoo lets them run free I am out. No Sunday at the zoo for me, thanks. I could have died that day.
Go Horseback Riding (with a Dog)
The thought of riding a horse with your best friend trotting beside you is a wonderful thought, right? Well, I’m about to tell you how it can go horribly wrong.
I was a small child on the ranch. There was a horse named Ernie (see I remember these details so I know they happened). One of my childhood friends came over and we begged to go riding. So Dad takes me and my buddy to ride Ernie on the race track. Just a walk, Dad leading the horse.
Dad had a white German Shepherd who was a nipper. Ernie was spirited. Race track dirt is deep and includes multiple soils to make it “cushy.” Do I even need to tell the story? So, Dad is both training Ernie and the dog to BEHAVE. Well, needless to say, the dog starts nipping at the horse, the horse bucks us off. My friend is fine but I go head first into the track. I remember flight, and then an immediate feeling of darkness and suffocation. Before I can think, I feel Dad’s arms wrap around my waist and tug. Takes effort but I am pulled out. Mom is there already. I have sand packed in my mouth, up my nostrils and in my eyes, so I was spitting, snorting and blinking like crazy. Once she realizes I am completely fine, she starts laughing to tears. Tears of relief, possibly. But I’m sure the fact that I played an ostrich in real life had something to do with the humor effect. It took days to get the sand out. It was in my pores. I could have died that day.
The last time I went skiing I believe was before I entered kindergarten at age four. I remember feeling cold, hearing crunchy noises and seeing lots of knees. No mom. Mom wasn’t the one that took me. I had no childhood friends yet, and I was excruciatingly shy. Now at, uh, my age, I just have this feeling that I will be left on the side of a mountain by myself, scooting down on my bum for at least half a day. Less a feeling than a prediction. Skiing before kindergarten without Mom? I could have died that day. If there would have been a peacock there – certain death.
In closing, I better start trying some of the above things before my future kids ask me to take them. I’ll be outed for sure if I try taking a gun into the free-range peacock exhibit. What from the above list should I try first? I think I’ll try swimming.