By Melissa Avstreih
A Washington, D.C. woman said the years of practice she’s had avoiding sex with her husband may have saved her life.
Karen Bell, who was hiking alone in Shenandoah National Park, said she played dead to thwart a bear attack. The techniques she used to deter the bear are similar to ones she’s used for years to discourage her husband.
“I often pretend to be asleep when I anticipate my husband is going to want to have sex,” Bell said.
When she gets into bed at night, particularly nights when her husband has had a few beers, Bell lies on her back with her eyes closed, taking long, even, gentle breaths.
“In 20 plus years of marriage, he’s never once realized that I’m actually awake,” Bell said.
Mastering the art of pretend sleep probably saved Bell’s life. As the bear approached her along the Fox Hollow Loop Trail, Bell instinctively dropped to the ground, shut her eyes, and remained as still as possible.
“It all felt very natural,” Bell said. “I married my college sweetheart, and I’m 41 years old, so I’ve had a lot of practice just lying there.”
Luckily for Bell, the bear never attacked. Similar to her husband, it simply sniffed her still body, grunted, and walked away.
Bell said the bear encounter hasn’t stopped her from hiking alone.
“I’m very grateful, but really, it was no different than Friday night in my bedroom,” Bell said. “I even felt the same sense of relief when I knew I wasn’t going to be disturbed.”
About the Author
Melissa Avstreih is a Harvard journalism student and aspiring freelance writer. She relies on coffee and wine to survive being a working mom. She lives in Arlington, VA with her sleep deprived husband and her two truck obsessed toddlers.