The Legend of How Matt and Elizabeth Narrowly Escaped Death By Elephant Seal and Didn't Even Know It has been told for years in our family; I wrote about it here and here in the early days of this blog.
Today, I received an envelope of old school papers from my mother, who is on a crusade to clean out her basement and get rid of things like old school papers and other assorted things. In the envelope, I found this, circa 1982:
Ignore the fact that I had not yet mastered it's vs. its; instead, focus on how I had researched a few pertinent facts about elephant seals and submitted a brief (and mildly poetic) report of my newfound knowledge for an assignment. No where does it say ELEPHANT SEALS COULD KILL YOU IN A MILLISECOND or NEVER APPROACH ONE OF THESE KILLER BEASTS. Nope, my subconscious recorded things like "slow," "clumsy," and "love to sun themselves." See? Happy, harmless things designed to frolic (slowly) in the sunshine.
I feel like maybe the blame for this narrow escape from death should be shifted from the misguided 22 year olds—especially the one who painstakingly researched elephant seal facts in her youth—to the encyclopedia publishers of the 1980s who clearly failed to emphasize the danger factor of elephant seals.