The Cousin with Nine Lives

Informant: “My mom has this cousin, Steve, who’s almost died so many times.  I met him once, and he’s wild… He’s crazy, man…  He actually wasn’t the one who told me the stories, it was my mom and grandmother.  But I swear – he’s like that old man from The Curious Case of Benjamin Button… [laughs] You know who I’m talkin’ about?  That one guy who’s like: ‘Do you know I’ve been struck by lightning seven times?’ [laughs]  But seriously, he is…  The guy has nine lives…

“One time, he uh, was skydiving and his parachute didn’t open, so he pulled his emergency chute, and that didn’t open… But suddenly, the parachute did open a few hundred feet, I guess, before he hit the ground…  He broke a bunch of bones, he really screwed himself up, but… he survived.  Another time, he was working on construction or something, he was on a crane in a lightning storm, [laughs] thinking that was a good idea… A metal conductor, high in the sky… Yea, he was struck by lightning and survived… He had to have skin graphs, but I guess he was ok after that.  He was just crazy! …He raced cars, he probably got into an accident at one time too, he was an alcoholic… But uh, another time [laughs], he was scuba diving and of course he was attacked by a shark.  It was a great white too.  It uh, bit his oxygen tank on his back, and I guess he was able to take it off so he swam to the boat and was unharmed.”

Interviewer: “Oh my gosh! Is he ok from all that?”

Informant: “You know, we actually have no idea… We haven’t heard from him in like 10 or 15 years?  We don’t know where he is… I don’t know, this is really sad to say, but he probably lived out his nine lives…”

My informant has been told the story of his mom’s cousin by his mother and his grandmother for years, but he remembers being first told when he was about thirteen years old.  He explained that this is a story that his brother, cousins, aunts and uncles know and tell at family gatherings.  He also mentioned the fact that if I had interviewed anyone else in his family, they’d probably come up with different death-defying accounts.  His family members told him the ones included above, but these are the ones that he could remember.