(The second in a series of  fairly tame, but not-suitable-for-‘Jeopardy!’ stories that started yesterday.)

When I was 12, I spent the summer in Miami (I do not recommend this unless you want to feel like a melting Nazi at the end of Raiders every second you’re outside in daylight). I stayed at my aunt and uncle’s swanky house. My only girl cousin was at camp for most of this time and my two boy cousins were roughhousing, y’know, boys. I read a lot that summer, swam some, and scared the shit out of myself by watching reruns of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ on Lifetime (?). To this day, the episode about the Zodiac Killer haunts my dreams.

Anyway, most of my childhood, I only saw my cousins once a year, but those visits could get ugly and/or annoying. Though they never really fought me much, they did fight each other, and tried to pick fights with my brothers, other cousins, and neighbours of our grandparents. One day during this sauna-y summer, one of them tried to change that. He sneaked up on me when I was in the backyard, looking out at the water wistfully, or maybe just watching the dogs try to dig in the crab holes in the lawn hoping one of the crustaceans would snap onto their nose again (it is very funny, and they were not bright dogs so it happened a lot), and grabbed me around the neck from behind. Mere seconds later, he was on the ground in agony as my instincts had kicked in instantly and I had elbowed him in the man(boy)bits.

I credit ‘The Avengers’ reruns and the Police Academy movies for wiring my brain this way. Cheaper than judo classes.

He never tried to cross me again. Well, fight me, anyway. He did like to go so fast as to knock me off the inner tube that he dragged behind the Sea-Doo, knowing full well that my girly upper body strength made it difficult for me to pull myself back on.

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