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by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
About the only things all of us have in common are the facts that each of us had or have a mother and the number of hours in our day. Everything else is just catch as catch can.

So, how we choose to use these allotted 24 hours of each day is pretty much left up to us, unless you happen to be in the military or in prison, which is about the same. Some of you have chosen to investigate how to save your money and make it work for you so that you will have a comfortable retirement. I envy you for this. I forgot to do this, which is why I continue to work. On the other hand I do know enough to stay out of the way of alligators, which is a lesson some folks might have missed.

In case you might have forgotten here is the definition of an alligator:

Alligators differ from crocodiles in snout shape and tooth placement. Living in large bodies of water such as lakes, swamps, and rivers, these lizard like carnivores use their powerful tail for defense and swimming. The eyes, ears, and nostrils, located on top of the long head, project above the water's surface. Alligators dig burrows in which they shelter from danger and hibernate in cold weather. The once-endangered American alligator of the southeastern U.S. may grow to 19 ft (5.7 m) long but usually ranges from 6 to 12 ft (1.8 to 3.7 m) long.

Now, I'd like to point out several key words in this definition, first 19 feet long (longer than my car) and the other very important word (don't miss this one) CARNIVORES. For those of you that live in California and are vegetarians, that word means meat eating. In other words an alligator looks at you, the same way we look at a donut. Yummy, good for the tummy.

In the past several weeks, we have heard tales of several people being eaten by alligators in Florida. Now, I would like to say, that I am sorry anyone who has lost a relative or friend due to a vicious attack by a flesh eating 19 foot prehistoric monster, but I am some what puzzled by these attacks.

I mean… didn't they see these things lying around or were they hidden in the brush somewhere waiting to pounce? After all 12-19 feet isn't exactly petite. I don't think they are real stealthy either. Perhaps the victims were swimming and couldn't have seen them. I have one thought on this angle; I try to swim in clear water. I regularly check my pool for both sharks and alligators. I've never found either, but then again one can't be too sure, can one? I have found several frogs and yesterday a very small snake, but I tend to just pick those up and throw them back into the yard. I don't know about you, but if I was in the everglades where there are over 1,000,000 protected man-eaters, I would be very hesitant to be doing back strokes in muddy or murky waters that might allow these creatures to hide. If I can't see them, then it stands to reason they can't see me. They might think I was a large chicken or whatever they like to eat. Trust me on this one, it doesn't do you any good for an alligator to chew you up and then spit you out because you don't taste good. You'll still be dead.

So, the point of all of this is that since we only have a limited amount of time in each of our days, you might give some thought to learning about basic survival skills and how to avoid being eaten by a very large wild meat eating reptile. It's all well and good for you to know the prime rate and what stocks are headed in the right direction, but you should know how to protect yourself if you ever want to enjoy those hard earned fruits of your labor.

So, to help you, I am going to give you some valuable advice. Don't swim in muddy water where alligators are known to live. Don't walk near ponds and lakes in the dark where alligators are living. Don't assume that the large, ugly object lying on your jogging track is just a new breed of dog and call out something like…'nice puppy' or 'here boy.' Remember if it can outrun you, then you may end up being the entrée of the day. Lunch ends up going to the least fleet of foot.

In addition, don't stick your hands and feet in holes to just 'feel' around….snakes, lizards, and God knows what live in such places and may think you are a new version of 'Meals on wheels'.

Trust me, I rather be broke and alive than rich and very dead…..

© Peary Perry
Letters From North America
- May 24, 2006 column
Syndicated weekly in 80 newspapers
Comments go to www.pearyperry.com
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