A huge alligator attacked me last week. And yes, I typed this with both hands intact. Although badly bruised and very achy, I’m still in one piece thanks to the heroic and successful efforts of my husband, who fortunately was there at the time the gator was set to have me for dinner.
First I’ll describe what happened, then I will explore how the response of the homeowner’s association and my neighbors in their posts on the Nextdoor neighborhood social media app closely mirror our nation’s current state of political discourse and division on the issue of (non-alligator) crime.
It was midafternoon, and my husband and I were walking our midsize goldendoodle around the neighborhood. We were on a wide path approximately eight feet from a pond’s edge with about a two to three foot downward sloping bank—and actually in conversation about gators and signs of their presence and so had the dog on a tight short leash—when suddenly one came out of nowhere, lurching out of its hiding place underwater with a loud whoosh, springing several feet in the air from the pond’s surface.
The gator aimed straight for me and not my dog, and I saw its face at shoulder-level out of the corner of my eye just as it violently rammed into my back, knocking me into a face plant flat on the ground. I turned to see its open mouth inches away from my foot as I lay there with my dog a few feet in front of my head. I felt like I’d been run over by a truck, and sensed that those open, massive gator jaws with hundreds of teeth were part of at least a seven-foot body. (Turns out according to its professional captors two days later, he was actually 9-foot-5 and likely weighed close to 300 pounds.)
My husband’s aggressive waving of his arms (one encased in a large black metal brace from recent surgery), kicking and yelling startled the gator just as it was going for my foot, as it likely intended to grab and pull me under, drown and eat me. But instead, and by the grace of God, my husband’s quick-thinking counterattack caused the animal to freeze in confusion, just in time to allow me and my dog to scramble away to a nearby neighbor’s hedge, which in my panic, I crawled into and over. Why the gator didn’t then turn on my husband is another miracle. Instead it stared him down for a few minutes, slunk down to the waters’ edge and kept an eye on him from there as we screamed until help arrived. We were probably both still screaming until the neighbor found us because we both woke up the next morning with very sore throats.
We called and reported the attack, and I went to bed with ice packs, ibuprofen, and wine in a cup with a straw. My mouth was bloody, my back and ribs badly bruised, and ankles, wrists, and neck sore and swollen. A week later as I write this I can still barely move without pain.The next morning my husband posted a description of the incident on the Nextdoor app to inform and warn our neighbors. I would say that’s when the “fun” began, but really it had started on that app a couple of weeks earlier when a neighbor posted that her standard black goldendoodle, Charlee, (weighing at least 50 pounds) had been killed by a gator.
The evening before, Charlee had broken free from her leash to chase a deer (also numerous in the area), but then didn’t return, even after a frantic search. The next morning, a neighbor found her mangled remains as he was fishing at one of the well-stocked local ponds.
Most neighbors who wrote comments to the posts about both Charlee’s death and my attack were full of kindness and concern, agreeing that we all need to actively protect the neighborhood by removing the gators when they reach potentially lethal size—much as we used to do. I’ve lived here part time since 2006 (so I’m well-acquainted with gator safety), and in years past when alligators became too large (rule of thumb is four to five feet because at that size they become a threat to humans) they were removed, without controversy.
As hundreds of new residents have since built homes and relocated here in the last five years, mainly from the Northeast, the neighborhood attitude toward the gators has changed. I’m not sure if it is because of sheer numbers of a certain political persuasion or the louder voices of a few, but the overall shift is unmistakable. Now when people complain about alligators that need removing, many residents side with the gators.
A couple of years ago on a walk I mentioned to a passing neighbor that we just saw a very large alligator in the nearby pond and she snarkily responded, “We love the gators.” As usual, I failed to quickly articulate a clever comeback, but still managed “Well, we love children.” I could’ve sworn I heard a muffled snort of derision in response as she passed by.
Now, in the past couple of weeks on Nextdoor, their commentary has changed from “I’m so sorry you were hurt and the dog was killed, BUT . . . [fill in the blank for something in the gator’s favor]” to “just stay away from the ponds, problem solved.”
To the alligator-lovers in my neighborhood, the attacks were essentially Charlee’s fault, her owner’s fault, and my fault. Charlee shouldn’t have gone “swimming” in the pond. We shouldn’t have walked on the neighborhood trail that goes by the pond in the middle of the day. They blamed it primarily on my dog, even though the alligator had chosen me as its entrée.
One group of gator-loving neighbors wrote that they’re putting together an educational seminar on “mindful cohabitation” because they’re worried that my accident will spur more demands to remove the large alligators from our ponds. I replied by asking if the alligators will be required to attend too since it seems they have in their minds dangerous cohabitation ideas and quite literally tried to remove me not just from the neighborhood but this Earth. As of yet no one has responded to my post.
Speaking of siding with attackers instead of their victims, why is it that (mostly) liberals so very often seem to side with criminals? Tucker Carlson recently talked about this recent and growing phenomenon. Our cities are being overtaken by crime—carjacking, looting, stealing, shooting, and gang violence—while authorities set higher thresholds of damage before police intervention is dispatched, judges pronounce lighter sentences and set lower bails, and liberal politicians stump for defunding police departments and emptying prisons. Street and gang shootings very likely involve illegally obtained guns, but Democrats call for stricter gun control laws for law-abiding citizens and replacement of armed first-responders with social workers.
Like the liberals who funded bail bonds for the looters and arsonists in the 2020 Black Lives Matter riots, it seems some of my neighbors would gladly set up a GoFundMe page to solicit donations to pay for the attacking alligator’s bail and its lawyer.
There are now several huge gators that have essentially taken over the neighborhood. They roam at night moving from pond to pond. Neighbors and Ring cameras have even spotted gators in yards in the middle of the day.
Parents are afraid to let their children play outside. No one wants to walk anywhere near the ponds. (I’m not sure what the numerous residents whose homes sit right next to them are expected to do, however.) When we venture outside, we have to dodge gator areas and be on the lookout for their waste like the residents of San Francisco who have to avoid homeless encampments and utilize feces map apps.
We’ve become prisoners in our own homes while alligators and criminals run free.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote that the senseless quests of moral narcissists to “save granny” from germy children or “save the ocean” from plastic straws, and so forth actually cause more suffering and damage than they prevent. C. S. Lewis once wrote that much “wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way.” I’d add that too often the “good” is merely the warm fuzzy feeling one gets from uttering a statement that sounds good to the speaker yet is completely devoid of common sense and sensibly placed compassion.
One has to wonder—what if what happened to me had happened to them? I’m not sure it would make any difference. I know of a young San Francisco family who have been robbed twice—first their car and then their home—yet they still forgave the thieves, excusing them because they were probably homeless and just trying to survive, so it wasn’t really “crime-crime.”
Like Whoopi’s “it wasn’t rape-rape.” Also, my alligator attack wasn’t an attack-attack. The gators were just being gators.
My neighborhood association meets at the end of this month. And our nation’s midterm elections are November 8. I hope sensible neighbors represent a winning majority at both events. Otherwise, not only will the gators take over our neighborhoods, but criminals will continue to take over our communities, enabling officials will still be running and ruining our cities, illegal and unvetted aliens will increasingly breach our nation’s borders, and the “criminal organization masquerading as a political party” will remain in charge of the ongoing destruction of our republic.