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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Wednesday, March 29

Gapers Block

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Dan Kelly / November 12, 2010 12:30 PM

Once, while siphoning gas out of a car, I ended up swallowing a tablespoon or two. After falling to my hands and knees and experiencing the dry heaves for several minutes, I ran inside and drank a half gallon of milk, thinking that was some sort of universal antidote. Afterward, I felt like a, if not THE, perfect idiot.

Sarah / November 12, 2010 12:38 PM

I was about 11 years old, at a girl scout camp. The campgrounds had an ENORMOUS Clydesdale-sized grey dappled draft horse that would pull the hayrides every evening. Some friends and I were feeding the horse clover one afternoon, and I had the bright idea to try to ride it. Bareback. Unsupervised.

I climbed on top of a fence pole and leapt onto the back of the horse, which so startled him that he immediately took off at a gallop across the field. He ran and he ran and I was holding onto his mane so tightly I cut little half-moon shapes into my palms with my fingernails.

Eventually it occured to me that if I loosened my grip on him that he might slow down a bit. Fortunately it worked, and I jumped off, tore through the field, launched myself over the fence, and we all ran screaming back to the campground. I laid awake that night freaking out about how easily I could have fallen off and gotten trampled by his dinner-platter sized hooves.

Charles / November 12, 2010 2:41 PM

Iraq or ex-girlfriend. It's a toss-up.

Kathy / November 12, 2010 3:07 PM

Ten years ago, eating breakfast at a diner, I inhaled a bite of toast. It felt it go "thunk" against the back of my throat, like when you put the palm of your hand over a vacuum cleaner tube. Instant, total panic. I thought, "Here it is, I am going to die." But then a nice man Heimliched the toast out of me, and I lived to tell the tale. Thank you, strange man!

Mike / November 12, 2010 4:19 PM

I drove throught the middle of a high-speed chase in Baltimore in 1994. I was driving down Edmonson Avenue, paying very little attention, music blasting. As I was approaching a light, all the cars around me slammed on their brakes. I looked up, confirmed that the light was still green, and kept on going. A car going very fast flew through the intersection right in front of me on the cross-street perpendicular to mine. He had run his red and hadn't even slowed down. I missed t-boning him by about three feet. As soon as I passed through the intersection I looked in the rear-view mirror and saw three cop cars fly through it after him, in hot pursuit.

Spook / November 12, 2010 8:16 PM

Uhm.......lets see. There was my first dive trip. I was certified in Curacao and after my third day of diving, I was feeling pretty confident. But I didn't really understanding nitrogen narcosis and followed a six foot fluorescent
blue yellowish moray eel 170 feet down a sea wall. My dive partner
turned around after following me to seventy feet.

My amazing dive master Mike, followed me down and tapped on my tank with his knife. He then signaled, asking what my depth and air level was.

60 feet is considered a deep dive, especially for a beginner. At 200 hundred feet you need specialized oxygen and of course special training.

I signaled 175 feet, and as some one who still has a problem retaining air( not a lot of body fat) I was amazed I still had 800 pounds of air left!

Mike shook my hand and signaled for me to share
( his) air. I signaled, I was fine. He signaled again for me to share air. Then it occurred to me that he( my dive master) was out of air and needed mine- yes I had nitrogen narcosis! So I extended to him my extra respirator- called an octopus. Mike grabbed me in a headlock and gave me his octopus. Luckily, I didn't fight him and started breathing through his octopus as he looked at his dive computer. I still don't own one.

I then realized that I needed to make several dive stops so I wouldn't get sever decompression sickness.
And I didn't know how many I needed to make nor did I know how long I needed to make them. I also didn't have enough air left to make the stops, hence Mike giving me his air putting me in a headlock and using his computer.

Mike kept me in a headlock as we rose to make five stops totaling around 15 mins. At sixty feet Mike let me go, shook my hand and allowed me to use the rest of my 800 pounds of air that I had left.

Now that's a good Dive Master and to think that when I first saw him I was disgusted that he was fat. I now know that it's best to have a big dive master who can overpower you under water if necessary.

jjj / November 13, 2010 9:57 AM

A few years ago I decided to hike the Grand Canyon by myself, spend 2 nights camping at the bottom and hike back up. I've hiked the canyon a bunch of times, so I wasn't worried about doing it alone, but it turned out to be a comedy of errors.

1) I got a much later start than I expected thanks to missing a connecting flight.

2) When I figured out how long it would take me to get down I didn't factor in the snow and ice that covered the first few miles of the trail which really slowed me down.

3) I didn't bring extra batteries for my flashlight.

About halfway down it was completely dark. I continued with my flashlight until that died, then I had to basically feel my way down for the last 2 or 3 miles. It was terrifying. One wrong step and I could have fallen to my death. Or at the very least I could have broken a leg or sprained an ankle and would have needed rescuing.

Mike By Senn / November 13, 2010 12:58 PM

Confidential to Spook: Man, I greatly enjoy your Yelp reviews. I hope everything works out with those Logan Sq. gangbangers. Watch yourself! Come up north to the Edgewater Lounge ... I'd love to read your take on that place.

Dennis Fritz / November 13, 2010 3:58 PM

Was at my uncle's house, alone, in his basement. Reached accross a table to turn on an antique fan and had a live electrical wire plunge right into my hand.

Amazing sensation. Bone-shattering vibration seized my hand, crept up my arm towards my shoulder. I had a dim awareness that if that current reached my chest, I was probably done for. But I couldn't move. However, I do remember I was screaming. Suddenly, my hand dropped to my side and it was over.

Pete / November 14, 2010 10:15 AM

I almost drowned in Wisconsin as a kid. I wasn't a good swimmer, but foolishly chose to swim the long way to the float to avoid embarrassment with the cooler kids who were good swimmer.

maardvark / November 15, 2010 1:58 AM

Circular saw. I was building a set for a play during college, and we were doing a late-night building session. The circ saw I was using had very little in the way of braking--it kept spinning long after you took your finger off the trigger. Anyway, it was late, and I dropped my hand (holding the saw) to my side. The crunching sound I heard was pretty arresting. I looked down, and I'd whacked a hole in my slacks and chewed up my wallet pretty badly. That wallet (in my front pocket) was probably all that was between me and severing my femoral artery.

flange / November 15, 2010 9:16 AM

walked through a gunfight once when i was attending college in boston; i was walking to the subway station from my last class and didn't know that a jewelry store on boylston st. had just been robbed at gunpoint. i walked through boston common and just started to realize that people were hiding behind trees when i heard a bullet whiz past me.

cyborgface / November 15, 2010 9:43 AM

i had a broken light bulb stuck in one of the sockets at my old apartment. having had a childhood, i remembered that you can halve a potato and jam it in there to retrieve the shards and then just twist and remove. however, like an idiot, i decided to grab a potato from the fridge, cut is open, and not mind that it was a bit wet from condensation. walking up five steps on my ladder, i jam it in and proceed to get the greatest jolt of electricity. my heart literally felt like it was being inflated in my chest and after about one to two endless seconds, i manage to let go. i had an alkaline taste in my mouth and momentary loss of awareness. my gf helped my down the ladder and i was fine, but for about one week, my heart still felt like it was too big for my chest and was near exploding at any moment. whats worse is i wasted a perfectly good potato.

Mike D / November 15, 2010 1:08 PM

Not sure if these qualify but:

1. Was walking down the street with GF in Rogers Park about six years ago behind some guy. Another guy jumped out of a front yard fence about 30 feet in front of us and started shooting (presumably) at the guy in front of us and, by default, at us. Knowing how notoriously bad shot gangbangers are, I threw her to the ground and we low-crawled between two parked cars, then low-ran across the street and around the block.

2. For some reason, we had to take trampolene in high school gym and I started jumping on it before class. I tried a sit down bounce and flipped backward off the trampolene. I remember hearing someone scream and thought I was going to land and break my neck but I miraculous landed right on my feet. Of, course I meant to do that...

No, they're not being trapped in a crevice with a boulder trapping your arm for 127 hours, but it all i got...

Roderick / November 15, 2010 4:07 PM

During the summer of 1993, my best friend's dad would buy us whatever fireworks we wanted. I saved up my allowance and bought, among other things, a strip of 500 firecrackers. Unimpressed by their wimpy explosiveness each by themselves, I went to work cutting each of them in half and emptying out the gunpowder into a construction paper casing.

As the Chicago Bulls won their 3rd championship in a row, I decided that I would join the chorus of fireworks being shot off in my neighborhood. I planned to set off the monster firecraker in my driveway.

Oh did I mention that my homemade firecracker had a 2 millimeter wick? Let's just say I'm glad that I had one of those longish lighters used for barbeque grills or fireplaces.

As soon as I pressed the trigger - *KABOOM* - I stumbled backwards and my brown plastic framed glassed flew off my head. My ears rung loudly and I was dazed. I inventoried my own body parts and noted that I didn't have any physical injuries. I ran into the house and hopped in the shower, for some reason thinking that I could wash away the sound of the ringing in my ears.

mike-ts / November 15, 2010 7:53 PM

1) Had the rear axles of a semi trailer shoot out from under the box at 55 mph, dragging 45,000 pounds of sugar and 15,000 pounds of frame across the pavement.

2) Dealt with a direct overhead pass of a tornado, holding the door closed while the roofing shingles got lifted off.

3) Got to the Credit Union right after the thieves shot the place up, but before the police arrived.

4) Was in a C130 on the tarmac at Rhein Main when the cable to a control fin on a wing snapped, rendering it unflyable until they replaced it. Had it been airborne minutes later, it would've all ended in a spin to the ground.

I know, dull compared to a lot of others. But after surviving this excitement, and many more episodes, I feel when I do die it will be from a stroke from reaching down to pick up a mayonnaise jar lid, you know, something mundane and stupid.

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