I’m a klutz. I’m not talking about tripping over my own feet or dropping things for no reason–although there’s plenty of that. I’m referring to my penchant for freak accidents. The kind that are so unusual, there once in a life time events. At least, as they occur.

It all started when I was five. We’d moved from Michigan to Texas and lived in the middle of nowhere. Seriously. We had two next door neighbors and then you had to go over the next hill before another house came in sight. Basically, have a shotgun and a first aide kit, because if anything happens, you’re on your own.

Despite all this, I was friends with our neighbors kids and liked to hang out with them. We did anything we could to entertain ourselves, including playing tag. Texas heat or no, we were going to have fun. We ran all over the yard, particularly in the back where they had three, medium sized cactuses. And that is where my problems started.

I don’t know how it occurred, but we’d stopped our game of tag and I ended up about five feet from a cactus. Maybe somebody dared me to do it, maybe I was being a showoff, or maybe I just got a stupid idea into my five-year old head. Whatever the reason, I started to walk backwards, towards the cactus. I’d walk, pause, look back, and start the whole thing over again. Closer the cactus came. Ever closer. I don’t know if there’s a plant version of the Jaws soundtrack, but it should’ve been playing.

I stopped when I’d backed right up to the cactus. I even glanced back to make sure I was in the clear. I was. Naturally, irony stepped in. Somehow–I don’t know how–I tripped backwards. I landed on the cactus like you might fall into a comfy chair. Except it wasn’t comfy.

I leapt up and raced around to the front of the house yelling my head off. My mother was sitting up front, and if my screaming hadn’t alerted her that something was wrong, then me racing towards her while holding my butt probably did the trick. I was eventually flamed down and taken inside. My mother–who was eight months pregnant with my brother–had to take a pair of tweezers to my backside and remove who knows how many needles.

And they were everywhere. I had them sticking out of my butt, my ankles, my backside–even my arms and hands. My outfit had so many holes that it resembled pink swiss cheese. I went home quickly after that and got a bath to treat the welts. While I was careful to avoid those nefarious plants in the future, I’ve never heard the end of it from my dad, especially his immortal words:

‘It takes an iron rear to sit upon a cactus, or at least a year of very painful practice.’

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Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.

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