As I’ve written many times, I spent a large portion of my childhood summers at the lake with my grandparents.
I was permitted to canvas a large area of road and woods, presumably because my grandmother had raised four children and knew what she was doing. No one tried to collect me or report me for being without supervision. I had to beware of idiot drivers, snakes, poison ivy, and that lady at the top of the hill, who Grandma said was “not right in the head.”
It was my sixth summer when I got to take my bike to the lake.
That sixth summer, I was allowed to ride my bike up and down the entire drive, no turns, no stops.
Since my perimeter had been extended, I got a new warning. In addition to idiot drivers, snakes, poison ivy, and the lady at the top of the hill, I was to look out for rapists, who might hide among the shrubs, particularly at night.
As a six-year-old, I had no idea what a rapist was.
At this same age, I believed I was skinny enough to slide down the tub drain with my bath water, that my uncle had grown up near a place called Yonder, that the white dots in my fingernails represented lies I told, that spinach would put hair on my chest — and any number of common childhood truths.
I concluded a rapist was a type of critter, perhaps a large one that came out at night with the raccoon and possums, but one that wasn’t the slightest bit afraid of humans.
I envisioned a furry critter not unlike Cousin It, but with long, sharp fangs and less personality. Something that would chase a bicycle, and with its fearsome bite, tear my feet off at the ankles.
My fear of the nocturnal, hairy, bush-dwelling rapist meant bike riding was best done between lunch and dinner, no exceptions.
(This post was written with humorous intent. If you did not smile or laugh, if you think I’ve made light of a serious subject, or if you’re feeling critical of my grandmother, then you have arrived at the wrong blog.)