Monday, May 15, 2006

Hope Not To See You Later, Alligator

By now you probably know that alligators are eating people down here. Like we didn't have enough to contend with from the bi-weekly hurricanes, the current drought, and the Third World road conditions (about once a month someone is literally impaled by a piece of debris flying through their windshield while driving down I-95).

Frankly, people are kind of freaked out by it. They keep telling us that the odds are still higher of being struck by lightning than getting attacked by an alligator, but I'm not consoled because A). I know a pool guy who's been struck by lightening twice down here, and B). The odds are getting better (worse?) now that three people have been eaten in the space of half a week, with a fourth attack resulting in a better outcome. Plus, if they had to choose, I think just about everyone would much rather be struck by lightning than be chewed up and digested by a reptilian monster, generally speaking.

A couple of years ago, much ado was made about the shark attacks that were happening, but people seem to be much more nervous here about this alligator stuff. In a post-Chevy Chase world, in order to get eaten by a shark you generally have to go in the water. But these gators are attacking people while they're just going about their business. These alligators are everywhere down here. All of the Ft. Lauderdale area is a series of interlocking canals in which alligators live. They find 'em in the canals, in people's backyards, and sometimes in the road. It's not terribly unusual for dogs to be eaten right off their backyard leashes. One famous local church found a little one in the prominent fountain out front (though they think that was probably the work of pranksters, miscreants, or possibly ne'er-do-wells).

Even the normally virile and courageous (like me) are finding themselves a little jittery. I actually had a dream the other night that I was being grabbed by one, and I remember thinking "Great, I've worked my whole life to accomplish something, and the world, my friends, and my family will all now forever remember me as the guy who got eaten by an alligator." I also tried punching it in the nose, but I don't think it worked. You know how it is with dreams--I think the alligator had some sort of force field around it that slowed my fist down right in front of its nose. I couldn't get any power behind it. It was the same frustrating feeling I have in the dream where I'm trying to dial an emergency phone number in a hurry, but I keep hitting the wrong numbers. "Rats! That's 9-1-2! Okay, okay, I can do this. Argh! That was #-1-1!" (Etc. etc., ad infinitum.)

The first victim was merely out jogging, and the attack took place only a few miles from my house. My wife's been bugging me to go camping for a while, and we were looking at going this weekend. The thing is, I hate camping. So if I can leverage this right and really get everyone else in the family as freaked out by it as I am, I may be able to salvage the weekend and spend it as the good Lord intended: in front of the TV in my air-conditioned house watching sports.

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