When I was in Grade 6, we went out to a woodsy place to learn about food chains.
While there, we played a game in which every student was assigned an animal. There were lots of rabbits and mice and they each had six lives, represented by six little cards. There were fewer raccoons and snakes and they each had three lives, represented by three little cards.
I got to be one of only two foxes, each of whom had just two lives. We were at the top of the food chain; only man (played by the teacher) could take one of our lives.
Then they sent us all out into the woods for an elaborate game of tag in which you had to try to catch the “animals” below you on the chain, and take one of their “lives.” Once you were out of lives, you were out of the game.
Like any other school assignment, I took this game very seriously. I remember coming upon a group of about twelve rabbits and mice just sitting together in a clearing chatting; they were all more than happy to hand over all their lives so they could stop playing this stupid game already and go grab a smoke at the exit.
I was super happy to take all their lives because then I was WINNING.
The various levels of the food chain were released in staggered entry into the woods, so that the smaller animals could get a head start. Us foxes were one of the last to join the game, and once in the woods, we only had about fifteen minutes before “man” came after us.
When the whistle blew indicating that “man” was coming in, I did something that is just SO typical of my personality, so indicative of the person I am.
I found a little nest of tall grasses under the low branches of a pine tree. I curled up under there and went into full hibernation mode.
The teacher – “man” – came by a couple of times but never saw me. I ended the game with both lives intact, but I don’t think it was quite what the teacher intended. Certainly in the real world, a fox can’t hide at the bottom of a tree indefinitely.
I think about this event all the time because any time there is stress or risk in my life, that’s what I do — I hide. I curl up at home and I don’t talk to anyone and I just survive. I build a cocoon on the couch out of blankets and cups of tea and watch a lot of reality TV and pretend the outside world does not exist.
I’m stressed today. Today is Blog Out Loud. I go back and forth between worrying that there will only be 10 people there, to worrying that there will be a hundred people there. I’m fretting about being too scheduled; I’m fretting about not being scheduled enough. Will everyone be able to get to the coffee bar? Will everyone be able to get to the bathroom?
Will anyone actually talk to me? Or will I just skulk around the sidelines like a pimply debate club member?
(Speaking of which, I naturally woke up with a huge pimple this morning. Sigh.)
I guess it’s too late to go back to bed and spend the day in front of Tour de France coverage and last night’s So You Think You Can Dance.
So if you see me there tonight – doubtless freaking out – do me a solid and say hi.