Tuesday, April 7, 2015
I've had one helluva dramatic (exciting?) life and have survived more than my share of harrowing experiences. Although I'm far from being inherently tough or courageous, I've learned to feign bravura and have become oblivious to most of my fears.
Sitting here long after midnight, in the usual company of insomnia and a potent cup of tea, I've taken a quick inventory of my close calls and narrow escapes. The more I think, the more I remember - - and the sheer volume of incidents has served to surprise even myself.
If I want to begin with minor childhood inconveniences, I should mention that at the age of six I was diagnosed with leukemia (by three doctors) and it was grimly predicted that I wouldn't live to be twelve.
There's a long story here that I'll (mercifully) skip over. Needless to say - for better or worse - I lived to see 20, and 30, and......40......and
Well hell, I'm starting to humiliate myself.
Let's just put it this way: if I had a dollar for every day I was over 50, I'd be a millionaire.
Don't attempt to calculate. And I said millionaire, not billionaire.
I'll skip over most of my juvenile narrow escapes, and mention only a few that have randomly leaped (leapt?) into my mind.
Like the time I was thirteen and two men attempted to break into our house. I locked the door and tried to hold them at bay while I called the police. They inevitably escaped and were never seen (in our neighborhood) again.
Or the time I was fourteen when my mother and I got lost in East Los Angeles late at night. We were accosted by a gang of Mexicans and mercilessly chased. The adventure climaxed as my Mom frantically raced down the freeway with the gang in hot pursuit in their hopped-up Chevy. We finally managed to ditch them by quickly taking an off-ramp and getting onto another freeway.
I have several harrowing runaway horse stories which I'll omit, for brevity's sake. And the time I was unconscious and almost died from a severe reaction to penicillin.
Randomly listing condensed versions of narrow escapes greatly diminishes their impact. You'd have to have been there, would be the appropriate adage for me to insert here.
As I progressed into adulthood (or a reasonable facsimile) my harrowing adventures and narrow escapes dramatically increased. There's no possible way that I could put these in any logical order. I'm merely giving haphazard samples.
I survived a brutal fall down a long flight of stairs and a horrendous auto accident (not on the same day, of course). I was rudely knocked out of bed onto my ass by the 1971 Sylmar earthquake in California. A deadly Thanksgiving tornado in the Missouri Ozarks roared right by my house.
When I was a young security officer in Santa Ana, California, I was stalked by a murderer - who left one of his dead victims in a trash compactor right outside the door of my work office. This story is much more harrowing than you would ever believe. In fact just thinking about it scares the hell out of me. I wrote about it long ago on one of my old blogs. Someday I'll tell it again. It's actually worthy of a book.
On a lighter note (*smile*), I once slashed the hand of a thug with my switchblade when he tried to rob me late one night in downtown L.A.
I've been physically threatened by angry lovers, angry ex's, even angry wives (not mine, of course - - use your imagination). I've previously told the story of the time I was in rehearsal with an orchestra and an angry husband stormed in and threatened to kill me - right in front of the entire ensemble. That's another story which is worth retelling.
Speaking of murder, my violent father tried to kill me numerous times (no exaggeration) and I've had serious death threats by irate and psychotic lovers (not to mention knock-down drag-out brawls).
I was shot at several times when I lived in Texas - - once accidentally and once deliberately by a drug-crazed neighbor.
I came face to face with a mountain lion one night while I was peeing in the Nevada mountains. I encountered a nest of angry rattlesnakes while hiking at Twin Buttes in Texas.
Okay, I'll reluctantly admit that this post is getting too long. Surprisingly, I've hardly scratched the surface. I can assure you that every one of these incidents is true. In retrospect, my close-call adventures are much more interesting than I initially realized.
I can't think of a suitable ending. I suppose I could mention that I once survived a live three-hour concert of music by Schoenberg and Stravinsky.
It was by far one of the most harrowing and brutal of my experiences.