…up until the age of 9. Or 12. Or 24. I can’t remember how old I was when this happened.
One day when I was younger, I got home after a long day of school and decided to unwind with a snack and some afternoon television. I poured myself some Rice Krispies, laid down on my stomach on the living room floor and flipped on Family Feud. It was a pretty typical scene. What happened next was not.
I’m just hanging out, livin’ the dream, when I felt something in my clenched fist. I opened my hand, looked down, and saw a centipede. I have no idea where it came from or how it got into my hand without my noticing, but I was so horrified that I almost barfed my Rice Krispies all over the place. I still cringe when I think about it; I can almost feel that stupid bug wiggling around in my paw and I have to scratch my palm to get rid of the sensation of his stupid, stupid legs. UGH.
The centipede had really rattled me. It didn’t help that my brother had told me that insects always travel in pairs, so I was pretty convinced that there was another stupid jerk centipede just lying in wait for me to let my guard down again. I decided that it would be best if I got out of the house – you know, go for a bike ride, clear my head a little. I grabbed my blue speckled bike and headed out.
Being outside helped. I felt myself calming down and started to let my mind wander away from that horrible bug. The gentle breeze was refreshing and the sound of the birds chirping away in the trees was soothing. Things were starting to look up.
Suddenly, a squirrel darted out in front of my bike. I screeched to a halt and watched it run past me and into the road. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a car approaching; I threw my arms up to try to warn the driver, but it was too late.
I bet you wonder why I’m telling this story. I find a bug in my hand and then watch a squirrel get hit by a car? Wow, when does the movie come out?
But wait, that’s not the end of the story. Or the squirrel.
See, the car didn’t actually run over the squirrel, it just hit it a little. Somehow the front right tire clipped the squirrel just hard enough to send it rocketing back towards the sidewalk. Towards me. The airborne squirrel shot back and hit me, knocking me off of my bike. We were both lying there on the sidewalk, stunned. Then – I swear to you – we looked at each other and then the squirrel got up and ran into the woods. I picked myself up, dusted myself off and hobbled back to the house, figuring if it was between a sneaky centipede or an airborne squirrel, I would probably have better luck with the centipede.
When my mom got home I told her everything that had happened and how it was “the worst day of my life.” Bless her heart, she didn’t even laugh; she loaned a very sympathetic ear and really listened to my tale of woe. She brought me out for a treat and talked to me about how bad days happen, and you can be upset, but then you just brush them off and the next day will be better. Solid advice that I follow to this day.
But seriously, how she managed to even keep a straight face about this whole thing is beyond me.