The first time (that I know of) that I almost died, I was about 2, and I had swallowed a penny. Why? Because pennies are fucking delicious, that’s why. Or maybe I thought that if I swallowed a penny I’d shit a quarter. Again, who knows. Anyway, an aunt’s boyfriend saw me choking and apparently performed the Heimlich maneuver to get me to spit it up. That’s what my family has told me. I vaguely remember being forced to shyly thank him before I ran off to try to find another way to die.
My second brush with death involved a(n apparently drunk) teenage driver who drove a car that I was in the backseat of into a large pile of rocks and mud. The pile acted as a ramp and launched the car through the air and into a harbor. It was very Dukes of Hazzard. As water rushed into the car, we all scrambled to unbuckle our seat belts and the boys helped us climb up through the driver’s side window because the car was lying sideways in the muddy water. It was terrifying, and it took a long time before I could comfortably ride in a car (with a drunk person) again. (Side note: In my defense I was only 15 at the time, surrounded by friends that I “trusted,” and since we were all caravaning less than a mile down the road, no one thought that he would destroy the car and endanger all of our lives so quickly and efficiently.)
I include this as a near-death experience because the car hit a boat on it’s way into the water, and everyone speculated that if it hadn’t, it may have flipped on it’s roof-drowning us all.
Despite being in constant terror as the boyfriend wove through the crazy traffic of a major European city on a vehicle he had no prior experience with, the day went pretty well until we decided to stop for lunch. All of us had downed a few pints the previous evening and we agreed on some greasy pub food. So, stopping in a nearby Irish Pub, I innocently ordered some fried mushrooms. And, being extremely hungry from a long day of hard scooting, I tried to eat one as soon as the basket was delivered. Except that the mushroom was really, really hot. Probably because it had emerged from a vat of bubbling-hot grease mere seconds before I decided to stuff my face with it. Instead of rudely spitting it out in front my new friends, I tried to just swallow it. This didn’t work. The mushroom firmly lodged in my throat, I got the boyfriend’s attention by waving at my face and looking panicky (he asked “are you choking?” and when I nodded exasperatedly, yelled at a waitress “she’s choking!”), and the poor guy had to quickly learn and preform the Heimlich maneuver in front of the entire pub. Thankfully, he figured it out before I died, and, other than the horrified looks on our friend’s faces, the rest of the day went relatively smoothly. The shell-shocked waitress mentioned in broken English as we left that she’s glad someone helped me because she had no idea what to do. I told her I was glad, too.
Safely home from my trip to Europe and newly single (surprisingly, this had nothing to do with the mushroom incident), I spent the next summer on the coast of North Carolina, in the area I grew up. I even met a boy, at my favorite place in the world, the Pub. One day, this boy and I decided to drive out to his parent’s beach house. We took a quick dip in the Atlantic that instantly turned into us getting sucked out to open ocean by the rip tide. Now, I’m not a strong swimmer. Nowhere near it, in fact. So when the rip current came to get me, I tried to fight valiantly, but pretty much immediately lost my mind and started to panic. That is, until the boy yelled at me to shut up, and scooped me up, Baywatch style, to dispose of me on the shore. He then casually mentioned that he was a lifeguard for 6 years. No big deal.
All in all, it was an okay first date.