Thursday, June 8, 2017

Discussion: About Those Times I Almost Died

Feed Your Fiction Addiction and It Starts At Midnight host the 2017 Discussion Challenge.

What’s the difference between fiction and real life? Fiction has to make sense



If you’ve taken writing or literature classes, you’ve probably seen some version of the statement above. Readers don’t like messy fiction. They expect plots to progress in logical ways and characters to have clear motivations. They have no patience for pointless characters, random plot tangents, coincidence, luck, chance, or deus ex machina. Some readers insist on happily ever afters or neat endings. Readers don’t even like “real” dialogue. Have you ever read an unedited transcript of a real-life conversation? It’s annoying. People say “Um” a lot. They pause awkwardly while they’re thinking. They repeat themselves, constantly interrupt each other, and change subjects without warning. Readers don’t like that stuff in their fiction. Most readers want fictional stories to be easy to follow. They want minimal mess.  

I guess that’s where the saying “Stranger than fiction” comes from. Real life is messy. Sometimes, stupid stuff happens for no reason. This has led me to wonder if you guys have had any “Stranger than fiction” moments in your life.

Nothing too bizarre has happened to me, but I have had two brushes with the Grim Reaper. (Or, more accurately, brushes with serious injury.) So, it’s story time:



Once Upon A Time, My Dog Took A Leak



About 10 years ago, I was walking my dog in the middle of the day. It was a weekday, so the neighborhood was pretty much empty. The dog and I were about to cross a street when he stopped to sniff a garbage can. The street we were on was twisty and lined with big trees, so it was hard to see if cars were coming, and it was hard for drivers to see us. While my dog was peeing on the garbage, a big SUV came flying down the road and bounced up onto the sidewalk directly across the street from us. The driver was texting. Driver dude was so wrapped up in his phone that he drove right off the road. If my dog hadn’t stopped to take a leak, we would’ve crossed the street and been walking on that sidewalk when the car came onto it. Basically, my dog’s desire to piss on everything saved us from being pancaked by a texting driver.

Dakota. A very good boy and a very thorough pisser.




Once Upon A Time, I Cleaned A Fish Tank



This story is embarrassing, but that just makes it better, right?

I’ve owned aquariums for most of my life. One day, I was cleaning a tank. This particular aquarium had an ancient filter on it. I have no idea how old this filter was because it wasn’t new when I got it. It wasn’t the safest thing to be using, but I was too cheap to replace it. After I finished cleaning the tank, I plugged in the filter and . . . promptly got electrocuted. If you’ve never had the pleasure of being electrocuted, I can assure you that it hurts like hell. It’s like a billion hot needles shooting through your body. The electricity went into my hand, up my arm, through my chest, up my neck, and into the right side of my face. It made my heart feel stuttery, and it took a few minutes to catch my breath after it was all over.*

It turns out that when you get electrocuted, the muscles in the shocked body parts spasm without warning. When the electricity hit my arm, the muscles contracted. My fist flew into my chest, and   . . . I accidentally punched myself in the boob. Really, really hard. I used to kickbox, and I don’t think I’ve ever punched anything as hard as I punched my own boob when I got electrocuted. I actually hit myself hard enough that I fell over backwards and smacked my head on the floor. For several days after my electrocution, I had a big lump on my head, a badly bruised tit, achy muscles on the right side of my body, and a deep fear of my house’s electrical sockets. Be careful with electricity, kids. It hates you.

*The fish in the tank were fine. I somehow managed to keep all the electricity to myself. I’ve never been very good at sharing.




Let’s discuss: Have you had any “Stranger than fiction” moments? Crazy coincidences? Near misses? Good or bad luck? Random stupid events?






21 comments:

  1. Man you were lucky with that first story. Scary!! That second one is also scary and can see how it is embarrassing. Glad you were ok!

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    1. Thanks! I’ve definitely been lucky in my life.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  2. You have a lovely dog. In your second story, did you "hitting yourself" knock you free from the electrical connection thereby "saving you?" Just last week, I was taking out a motor in an attic fan and hadn't cut the power and all was well (I'd taped but not very well the bare wires), when I got a small jolt. I never like it, even though it wasn't as bad as yours.

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    1. That probably is what happened. The hand that got electrocuted was the same one that punched me. Honestly, it all happened so fast that I didn’t even know I’d been electrocuted until I was flat on my back.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  3. Wow! Scary stuff, but that last story. Yikes, the next time I change the aquarium filter I'll be very careful...

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    1. Just don’t use a filter that’s a billion years old.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  4. Woah, those are crazy coincidences! I was electrocuted once , when I plugged in a lampshade...I think I saw stars! haha

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  5. Wow, you were lucky both times! I can't believe your fish were ok! And who thought dog piss could be a life saver???!!! Thankfully my one brush with death was surviving kidney failure when I was a kid.

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    1. Kidney failure must have been scary. I’ve never had a serious medical emergency.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  6. Nooo texting drivers are the worst! I'm so glad you and your dog managed to avoid being in that awful situation. Also, I've never thought about real life being stranger than fiction (though I've heard the saying) but you're right, it's true - that's such an interesting thing to think about.

    The only thing I can think of regarding near death experiences is that when I was little, I jumped into a pool even though I couldn't swim, and I would've drowned if it hadn't been for the lifeguard. I honestly have no clue what I was thinking at the time haha.

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    1. Yeah, kids make a lot of stupid, impulsive decisions. It’s a wonder that our species has survived this long.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  7. That is so very true, reality is messier than fiction and whilst we like elements of reality in our books we don't want it to be completely real. Stuttering and umming and ahing in books would be annoying.

    Those two moments are insane! It's crazy to think how close those calls were. I've never had any experiences like that. I mean, the driver one is terrifying really because things like that happen! And the electrocution one is scary but kind of funny when you look back on it at least. At least the fish survived!

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    1. People _really_ need to put their phones down when they drive. A car on the sidewalk can do a lot of damage.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  8. I am so glad that you didn't die on either of these occasions. Scary stuff. Did you get checked out after the electrocution?

    I had 2 of my fingers cut off and sewed back on when I was 9 years old. The metal post that cut my fingers off was inches away from the back of my head. As an adult, I realize that since it was forceful enough to cut through bone if it had fallen just a little bit in the other direction then I probably wouldn't be here. I just have a couple of deformed fingers that I can't feel so I came out okay.

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    1. Nope, I didn’t get checked out after the electrocution. I just assumed everything was okay once I wasn’t punching myself anymore.

      Losing fingers would be terrifying. I’m glad you’re okay.

      Aj @ Read All The Things!

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  9. Oh my goodness! Is it horrible and mean that I'm chuckling at your near-death experiences? I'm pretty sure it is. Not gonna lie, though---I was laughing. I totally agree with you that often truth is stranger than fiction and that we don't WANT our fiction to sound like real life most of the time!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

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  10. Oh my goodness, these are scary! I mean, also funny since you're okay, but scary! Those timing situations like the texter are sooo scary because you wonder what exactly made all that happen so you DIDN'T get run down. And the electrocution thing is so scary- mostly because that can kill you. Or make you beat your boob up ;) I am trying to think if I have had anything like that- probably a few of the "near misses". But I can't think of anything straight up life threatening (and I am hoping I am not jinxing myself now ;) )

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  11. omg i literally laughed out loud at your second story. it sounds terrible, tho. electrocution sucks, i know from experience too. once, when i was little, my finger got stuck in a socket and i couldn't get it out, and i just got shocked and shocked and shocked, until someone else, i think, my mother, pulled me out. the skin on my finger got burnt by that!

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  12. Eeep, so glad neither of those accidents left you seriously injured! I had a near miss where I've started crossing the street, and suddenly two cars collided on the sidewalk spot where I'd been standing not a minute before. I was mildly freaked out, but mostly thankful haha.

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