I didn't think it was interesting enough to interrupt what I was already writing for, but I did have an interesting test of my combat reflexes on Tuesday: I got hit by a car.
I walked up to Walgreens to refill a prescription. On my way out, I was looking up at the weather, trying to figure out if the rain would hold off long enough for me to walk a couple of blocks further up and back for another errand. Just as I looked down from the approaching storm front, I caught a glimpse of movement in my peripheral vision. I whipped my head around, and there was a gold-toned Chevy Cavalier up on the sidewalk, coming right at me at about 5 mi/hr. By the time I saw it, it was only about 12" from my legs.
I instantly calculated that there was no way I could leap or run out of the way in time. So instead, I leaned into it, so my weight would be over the hood. That guaranteed that when the bumper hit my calves just below the knee, instead of my being slammed down under the car (and getting both legs broken, plus whatever damage the car did as it ran over me), I was slammed up onto the hood. In the same motion, I twisted my upper body to start a sideways roll. So what happened was exactly what I planned. I spun far enough that I gently hit the trunk with one buttock, and used the momentum to flip my legs out 90° in front of me, which meant that when I rotated over the driver's side of the hood, my feet were pointed straight down. This let me land on my feet and leap backwards fast enough to not get hit by the driver's side mirror as it went by.
5 mi/hr = roughly 1.5 ft/sec. So that means that from the time I saw the car until the time it hit me was right around 600 or 700 milliseconds. If you think that it's impossible for a slow, sedentary 45 year old to react that fast and accurately in 600 milliseconds, if you think that I got away with only a couple of briefly-sore spots on my calves (not even bruises) by luck ... well, you've never seen me when threatened by physical danger. Ask kukla_tko42 about the drunk who stole my riding crop and used it to pick a fight with me. Or ask the_geoffrey about the first time the motorhome caught fire. Or go and look up my story about the armed robbery I almost didn't notice until it was over because I couldn't be bothered to put down my book to see what all the yelling in the restaurant was about.
So yeah, when physically in danger I demonstrate lightning-fast reaction times. And as I was chewing out the octogenarian driver, asking her bluntly if she had any business still driving, part of me was thanking my lucky stars that gangs of other kids spent about 7 years of my life trying to beat me up, 2 of those years trying to kill me. I wouldn't have survived the childhood I had if I hadn't developed combat reflexes before I was 9. And if I hadn't developed combat reflexes before I was 9 (or if, and thank the Gods she wasn't, but or if she had been driving an SUV instead of a compact car), I would have had both legs broken Tuesday.
But then about a block away, it occurred to me that this is a vivid example of the difficulty of proving a contra-factual. You see, what I was up at Walgreens doing was refilling my prescription for the drug that mitigates the symptoms of my anxiety disorder and recurring depression ... conditions related directly to my horror-show childhood. If I hadn't had to develop combat reflexes to reach my 10th birthday, I wouldn't have been on that sidewalk for her to hit me. It's a conundrum, all right. Cuts right to the heart of the question of, if I even could somehow magically go back and fix my childhood, would I really want to be someone other than the person I am now?