When I was perhaps five or six one Sunday morning I walked around the parked cars after church. Everywhere were big American cars, Volkswagen Beetles and pickup trucks. One family had a hulking Chevy Impala and I noticed that it had small coiled springs at each corner. These springs pointed out at the ends of the car’s bumper, perhaps to absorb a very small impact.
I didn’t know what they were for. I did know it would be fun to kick one and I did. It made a pleasing boingyoingyoing sound. Then I realized that my shoelaces were stuck in the coil. I stumbled a bit forward to keep my balance and said hello to the owners of the car as they got in to go home. The engine started. I stood on one foot and pulled at the other one, but the laces were worked into the spring.
Then my mom came running up yelling to wait. The man in the car said he wouldn’t run over me. But my mom told him what was happening. Their son was a big teenager named John who taught me contemporary colloquialisms like ‘outasite’ and ‘hey, man”. John got out and worked my shoelaces out of the coil.
As John and his family drove away my mom told me that I would have been dead in less than a minute. Looking back now I think that if the car had driving away I would have probably not been dragged but landed on my butt as the car popped my shoe off and drove away.
Still, I thought that that was the closest I had ever been to death. I also thought that perhaps I was in a coma and was dreaming everything that happened after that.