I have a low-level obsession with the show “I Survived…” Have you seen this particular Biography Channel horror? It goes like this: Three people sit thisclose to the camera, framed by a black background, and tell you about surviving a near-fatal situation. One person (usually a woman) recalls a kidnapping/rape/home invasion; the second talks about a hurricane/fire/lost-at-sea disaster; a third describes how he amputated his own arm in order to free himself from a mechanical corn picker. There are also some school shooting/bank robbery survivors.
If aliens were to view “I Survived…” in preparation for visiting our planet, their notes would read something like this:
- The people of Earth come in two genders. Gender 1 is unpredictable and violent; Gender 2 is vulnerable and gullible.
- Gender 2 ought to stay in and lock its doors at night, lest it invite unpredictable violence.
- Never accept offers of automotive transportation from Gender 1.
- Universities are hotbeds of insanity.
- Do not trust security guards.
- Use the automatic-teller machine.
- The people of Earth must decide: Either EVERYONE carries a gun, or NO ONE carries a gun.
- The people of Earth should buy their corn from the store, not pick it themselves.
What gets me; what makes for obsessive watching, are the stories of women who survived the kind of depravity we fear most. Debra Puglisi, for example, was tending her rose garden when a sociopath attacked. After killing Debra’s husband, he raped and kidnapped her — the start of a five-day ordeal the details of which I will not describe except to say that it’s hard to imagine much worse. Debra survived — primarily thanks to her own quick, calm thinking — and became a victim advocate and public speaker.
I sent her a Facebook friend request after I saw the show. She likes Farmville. That’s what inspires me most, somehow. That one small thing. Because this woman, at one point, must have been sure her life was over — that, even though she was safe, she’d never again experience happiness or fun; never have a truly OK moment. But she did. She remarried; she works; she has grandchildren. She’s got a great sense of humor (she just posted a Martha Stewart video spoof that made me laugh like a drain). So, if Debra can live without constant fear and anxiety; if she can find joy and inspiration in small things, I will do the same. No matter what has happened to me, or what could happen.