If I stick to the classic ‘Fear Factor’ format, this post should be about fear-defying stunts. I generally try to avoid doing those, but into every life a little adrenaline must drip (or, in my case, surge like a tidal bore). So I asked myself, “What are the scariest things I’ve ever experienced?”
After ruling out politicians and 1980s boy bands I was left with a ragtag collection of memories, but I never remember being abjectly terrified. That’s probably because I’ve lived a charmed life and all the potentially dangerous situations turned out to be lucky near-misses. Still, they were seriously butt-puckering at the time.
The earliest scary situation I remember was when I was a young teenager on the farm. We were always wary of skunks, not only because of their fearsome stink but also because they often carried rabies. When they rambled through minding their own business we gave them a wide berth, but if one seemed unusually aggressive, Dad would shoot it just to be on the safe side.
I was home alone one day when a skunk marched up bold as brass. I’ll never forget staring at that skunk over the trembling gunsights, holding off until the last second to pull the trigger… and then I didn’t have to. The skunk turned and wandered away, leaving me shaking like a leaf.
As a young adult I narrowly avoided a couple of fights when I got cornered in remote places by guys much larger than me. Nothing pumps up the old adrenal glands like facing a fight you know you can’t win. Fortunately they were cowards, and when they realized I was going to fight them anyway they backed off. Whew.
Anybody who’s ever ridden a motorcycle knows there’s nothing quite like the horrifying weightlessness when gravity turns against you in a high-side. Aydan’s wild ride in Book 2 is based on the time I almost high-sided on a street bike, complete with the dragging footpeg throwing up sparks. But my guardian angel was working overtime that day (and every day, I suspect) so I pulled out of the turn unscathed and went home to change my underwear.
Then there was the time I was riding a dirt bike up a steep trail of loose shale with a cliff on one side and a hillside on the other. Getting up was a challenge, but coming down was truly scary. Especially when my brakes failed. Fortunately I was near the bottom and I hadn’t been going very fast, so I turned into the side of the hill and jolted anticlimactically to a stop.
Experiences like accidentally skiing onto a double-black-diamond downhill run or watching a tornado bear down on me were good for a few extra heartbeats, but either I’m not wired for panic or else I’m too stupid to react with appropriate fear. I got down the mountain, the tornado skipped harmlessly overhead, my guardian angel developed a drinking problem, and I puttered off happily to my next adventure.
But everything except the skiing and the tornado happened when I was young and foolish. These days I get all the adrenaline I need from crawling out the window onto our second-floor roof to wash the third-floor windows. (Okay, so now I’m old and foolish. Never mind.)
But that’s about all the fear factor I want!
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P.S. I’m on the road today, so I’ll reply to comments tomorrow – ‘talk’ to you then!