Reflexes

Fox\'s avatar
I don’t talk about myself much, but I’ll make an exception for this one:
I’ve always had surprisingly fast reflexes. I say “surprisingly” because they generally surprise me as well. But I suppose that’s the definition of a reflex: an involuntary action in response to stimuli. It skips a few steps…like ‘the brain’. What concerns me is I’ve observed that mine seem to respond to a far greater number of stimuli than most. My senses notice something ‘less-than-good-and-preventable’ happening and a split second later we’re all standing around looking shocked because I stopped it.
Everyone else because I moved so fast; me because I’m a complete control freak and my body didn’t check with me first before taking me along for the ride. I don’t like going to the doctor because I’m not always in control. Surgery terrifies me because I’ll be put under. The idea that my body ‘just does things sometimes’ is, at least, a bit unsettling. It raises the worry that I’ve no way to test these damn superpowers to see just how bright they are, and whether or not they simply reach out to catch things without considering the possible ramifications of such actions…like “losing a limb”.

In hindsight I suppose this anxiety is unfounded: in over three decades they’ve never gotten me injured (quite the opposite) and will only get slower. The above comic has always been a expected outcome, but has never happened.
I have, however, recently discovered my reflexes do not take into account what is between the object and my hand, and recently punched the railing of a banister trying to grab something falling on the other side.
I’m fine.
The banister can be fixed.

Mandy\'s avatar

Meanwhile, I have the exact opposite reflex, and jump back from anything that falls in front of me. I was a SEGA kid, maybe that’s it.

Fox\'s avatar

You were a Kings Quest kid; that’s why.

For those who were expecting a Valentine’s Day comic–we don’t celebrate that day. We celebrated Second Halloween yesterday instead, on Friday the 13th. Maybe we’ll do a comic about that instead.

lab table
The Lab Table

59 comments on “Reflexes

  1. I like the background and box label text.

    And I have Seley’s type of reflexes, 90% of the time. And the other 10% I fail to catch whatever’s falling.

    1. Exact same thing happens to me, my balance and ability to catch myself too. I live in a narrow and crowded house, so I’ve developed excellent reflexes.

  2. This is tooo funny! I really like the expressions in the last panel. …and the poster behind Seley. πŸ˜‰

    I have no reflexes left. πŸ™ Unfortunately I was a small and bullied kid in school and taught myself to not react to sudden noises and such. Last year my sis-in-law’s cat dug every claw into my bare arm and sank his teeth to the bone in my hand. I did -not- jerk away from him. (which would have made the damage even worse!)

      1. Cat was -not- evil. He did have issues though, but they were not the his fault. Deaf from birth and strictly a house cat (trailer cat actually; and trailer floors are not nearly as solid as house floors), and somewhat abused by sis’ brother-in-law. Walking “heavily” tended to upset him too. Bones was nominally friendly to me (he once ‘claimed’ my plate of spaghetti by rubbing his cheek on it! πŸ™‚ ) and normally I could pet him (name: ‘Bones’) as long as I watched for his “that’s enough!” signals. πŸ™‚ This time I was to spend the night on an air mattress at bro’s house. I laid down in the pitch black when Bones was already on the mattress (I did not lay on him!) and he apparently was upset by the movement of the mattress. He warned me but trying to get off the under-inflated mattress was difficult and the movement just upset the poor guy more. Room was so dark I could not even see the white cat on my arm and my brother had to come in and get him off me. ow.ow.ow. πŸ˜‰

  3. From many years working with INCREDIBLY sharp knives, I have trained my reflexes to catch anything “not knife” and jump back if “is knife” so that I don’t end up with a sliced palm or a knife sticking out of my foot. Even lightning fast reflexes like yours ARE trainable. I just wish mine were as fast as yours are. I think you’d have to live past 100 for yours to get down to what mine are now!

    1. I’m the same way. Many years in kitchens made me train myself to not grab falling knives. My reflexes are very fast and accurate for two reasons. First is because I’m a bit of a klutz. I had to develop fast reflexes to compensate for me frequently knocking things over. And second was my upbringing. Ever see the old Pink Panther movies? Remember how Inspector Clouseau hired a ninja to attack him randomly to keep himself in fighting shape? That was my life with my Father. We both took karate and he wanted me to be able to handle any situation so he would ambush me out of nowhere and I’d have to defend myself with no notice. Sparring only, not ever hurting each other, but it made me jumpy when people would appear next to me with no warning.

    2. I concur that they are trainable. I tend to catch or avoid things that begin to fall, and I blame my reflexes on being the oldest of seven boys and one girl (she’s #5).

  4. Something similar happened to me. My dad was chopping a pomegranate in half when the plate slipped and we both went to catch it. the knife in his hand went into my thumb. luckily the blade was sharp and although cut deep, did not cause damage. I was then sick for the next few hours partially from shock and partially from my slight case of hemophobia

  5. With me its perception, my reflexes don’t change everything just seems a little slower and I’m able to tell if I can catch the object or not and it not I watch it fall.

  6. Ahh, reflexes. So much to say on the subject, where do I even begin? I have come to the conclusion that I need to find some way to retrain my reflexes. I, too, have had a fear of catching sharp objects since my older brother tried to save a small potted cactus that was falling off the windowsill. And succeeded. Through this paranoia, I have been able to force myself not to catch knives, the act of which seems to kick in a secondary reflex to jump back. Thankfully.
    My reflexes have also caused me to punch and/or knock over other objects, or jump back, usually into someone or something. I often make a bigger mess than what I was trying to prevent.
    On the plus side, my paranoia of swerving into traffic whilst riding my bike around town has saved me at least once: While riding to the store, some jerk threw water out his car window, splashing my face. Half-blinded, my arms locked up, and I managed to stay in the bike lane.
    And I am happy to note that in the 9 months of working my current job, only two pallets have fallen over, though many have leaned dangerously to the side.

    1. There y’go! Reflexes come from familiarity, most of the time. There’s even times when preventing yourself from moving is exactly the right response, and that takes fast reflexes too.

    2. Greyryder….THIS!! You jus’ ain’t LIVED until that 60W soldering iron falls off it’s stand and you reach out to catch it before it burns/melts the carpets. (Building/wiring an entertainment center in the living room….the wall-to-wall carpeted living room.) And instead of grabbing the cord or handle you wrap your paw around that 600+ degree heating element. 8-0

      AHHhhh…the distinct sound of sizzling flesh and accompanying “aroma” followed immediately by a loud and long string of expletives.

      And it STILL hits the floor burning a nice outline of itself into the carpets.

      The SO was not amused……or happy…..for multiple reasons. *rolls eyes*

      Didn’t happen to me, but a good friend I was helping at his house. Being a former AF paramedic I spent the next hour treating his pretty badly seared palm and fingers. He healed up fine, but there is still a small scar on his palm just at the base of his fingers. It actually burned a groove into his hand.

      Once the initial pain and generally PO’d at himself attitude subsided, we immediately went out and bought a dual heat soldering GUN with on/off trigger switch. πŸ™‚

      He gave the iron to me…..just to get it out of the house. πŸ˜‰

      1. I’ve been known to grab the wrong end, just going to pick it up. Thankfully, I always end up grabbing the big tube section, and not the tip proper.

        Now, I’ve been teaching myself some small scale brazing, with a micro torch. It wasn’t running at the time, but the end was still hot when I managed to press it against my arm, by not paying attention to what I was doing. Still waiting to see how fully this crescent moon on my arm is going to heal up….

        1. Look on the bright side–if it scars, you’ll at least have some serious street cred at any MLP conventions…

  7. Fox, for your sake I hope you don’t do the ironing. You definitely don’t want to catch a hot iron when it drops!

  8. I too have lightning reflexes, where I catch something and wind up standing there going “How’d this get in my hand?”. (Once, it was my toddler brother.) Luckily, I’ve never been injured by them, and have caught sharp objects by the handle or back of the blade. (Don’t ask me how…)

    At the Smithsonian Air & Space museum, they have a reflex tester you should check out. There’s a steel ruler suspended from a magnet. You position your hand, push a button, and when it drops, you catch it. (No warning or anything, it just drops.) Best recorded score was a .9 from an aerobatics pilot. I did it 5 times, and always was between .7 and .8.

  9. My reflexes act like a Final Fantasy Axe, in that they’re unpredictable, and either awesome or facepalm inducing. Sometimes I can be lightning quick, and pull a Fox moment, and in others the event will completely unfold, and then I’ll react (as in, the plate will have already hit the ground and shattered, my brain will process that it can no longer be saved, and I’ll still reach for it anyway).

  10. Normally the reasons for going to the ER on Valentines tends to be much more embarrassing πŸ˜‰

  11. Aren’t you glad that there’s two Friday the 13ths this year? March 13th is also a Friday. So you’ll get to celebrate THIRD HALLOWEEN!

    1. For us, there’s only one other Halloween, cuz we don’t like V-Day.
      It all started with me making a joke and my friends nearly demanding we do it.

      Besides, March 14th is Pi day. And it’s the most precise Pi day any of us will ever live to see.
      Also, St. Patrick’s Day.

      1. Second Halloween sounds like a great idea! It’d give me something to celebrate on V-Days, for one thing, and for another all the stores would be marketing for the wrong holiday πŸ˜€

        By the way, your reflex story reminds me of a friend of mine who once caught a cricket mid-jump between two fingers. I’ve always kind of wanted to do science to him to suss out the limits of his abilities >_>;

  12. My reflexes are slow, so when I see something drop, usually it is already at thigh-level. That is when my foot kicks us to slow it down before it hits the floor.

    Hopefully I will not have a knife go through my boot any time soon.

    On a different note, I want to make several copies of that poster in the background and post them in every public and private bathroom I can legally get into. >:3

  13. I remember having to watch a safety video way back at some point in history, about a lineman (of the type who works on power lines) losing a limb because he knocked a live wire loose and reflexively reached out to grab it. Knives are nice and safe!

  14. Oh, man, for a second I thought Fox had slashed his hand.
    I remember when I slashed my hand … I squealed like a farm animal. Somehow squealed doesn’t cut it, more like “panic induced hysteria” made into a real noise.

  15. I like the “I’m a badass” look in panel 2, and the “wash your hands! You’re disgusting!” sign in the hospital.

    1. Also, I believe the doctor pictured in that poster is a ferret, judging by length..

  16. When I took electronics in high school, stuff like this is the reason why we were taught to NEVER try and catch a dropped soldering iron. There’s a 50/50 chance the end you grab onto won’t be the handle……

  17. It always puzzles me when someone drops a container of liquid (ordinary consumable stuff, not strong acid) and everyone stands and watches it run out on the floor.

    I’ve accidentally dropped a full fast-food-joint glass of liquid with no lid, had it land on its side, and picked it up still over 2/3 full. And realized I was the only one who had moved toward it at all.

  18. I tend to leap out of the way of anything dropping or any fast moving thing, to be honest. It’s an instinct honed by working around heavy machinery and forges. The incentive is not getting metal shards in one’s face, and it’s a pretty powerful one.

  19. This is actually kind of the relationship between my Mom and Dad. While my father doesn’t have superhuman reflexes, his tendency to perform DIY and shop work makes handling tools dangerously kind of the norm. (Two surgeries last year alone from handling a snow blower, for example.)

  20. I used to have pretty good reflexes myself (haven’t had to test them recently). I’ve actually reached out and caught falling knives twice in my career and been lucky enough to get the handle of one and the back of the blade of another. I had to train myself to do the “hands up, step back” whenever a knife fell. And of course the counter to this is that the worst knife wound I have was from stabbing myself with a paring knife that was in my pastry equipment bag when it should have been in my knife case instead.

    1. I taught myself to step back from falling knives too, but once I DID catch one on the fall. I had just sharpened it, and cut veggies for dinner. Washing it, the soapy wet knife slid in my hand, but rather than opening my grip and letting it go, I grabbed. I STILL don’t know why I didn’t cut my fingers off with that razor sharp 10″ chef knife. Actually My wife, on the other hand, can get a major cut carefully picking up a butter knife.

      1. *Chuckle* πŸ™‚

        When I was a whole lot younger (and dumber), at SCA events, a good friend of mine and I would get into a game of “catch” using our regular, sharp, steel bladed knives. We’d stand about 20′ apart and casually toss our blades to each other. The object of course was to catch it and not impale our palm or lose a digit or two. We actually got to be quite good at catching them by the grips OR blades and not get cut……well, not too badly anyway. πŸ˜‰

        Seriously, we never got more than very minor, tiny nicks playing this “game”. Neither of us ever got hurt.

        *Sigh* I look back on my younger years and really wonder why the hell I’m still here…….and still in one piece. :-/

        1. My mother, I am sure, still contemplates the same about me. How DID I ever manage to survive my childhood? LOL

  21. I’ve never done that with a knife but I did once catch a potted cactus out of the air. Unfortunately it wasn’t the pot I grabbed onto but at least the cactus was safe.

  22. Is it bad that the first thing I thought when I saw Fox’s Shorts was ‘N7’.

    Also; love Seley’s expression in the last panel.

  23. I always call it “St. Valentine Massacre Remembrance day, and honor those that fell at the hands of Al Capones North Side army…

    1. Wasn’t the Saint Valentine’s Day Massacre perpetrated by the Purple Gang, rather than Al Capone’s group? πŸ™‚

  24. Yeah, having above average reflexes does pose a problem at times, but they can be trained. I have a different quandry instead though, I can consciously react to things nearly as fast as most peoples reflexive reactions, including deciding what to do if I keep my mind mostly clear (a challenging feat for me, my mind doesn’t do idle very well unless I’m horribly tired which of course dulls reaction speeds, bringing mine down to around human norm). It actually takes someone like you to be able to best me for reacting to something, so I really hope you manage to get them properly trained some day.

  25. February 14th and October 31st…
    The holiday so great, it comes TWICE a year!
    Surplus-Candy-Sale Eve!

  26. There was a story a teaching co-worker told me.
    He was in conference with a parent and kid, and said something about his karate based reflexes. The kid looked skeptical.
    The parent, when the teacher looked down, threw a pen at his head. He caught it.
    The parent told the kid not to mess with this teacher.

    Now one of the points of this is that your reflexes can be trained to a very high level. and likely that Fox’s reflexes are not at the level that he could attain, nor do they have to fade with age, if he would exercise and train them.

  27. Just thinking…
    If a fox rubs the underside of a cat’s jaw, to please the cat, the fox is scent marked, as that is where the scent glands of the cat are, and that is part of pleasing the cat, to accept the scent marking.
    but the fox’s scent glands are in his feet, thus the cat is scent marked simultaneously

  28. The knife thing actually happened to my cousin a while back, he was washing dishes and a sharp knife fell out of the drainer and he went to grab it. It still fell but he sliced his finger open pretty badly first.

  29. Nintendo reflexes? Imagine what they’d be like if you were a Wii gamer (Kermit flail!).
    Sorry, but you know what they say… The road to hell is paved with good Nintendos. Or something like that.

    1. I thought it was paved with the skulls of all the people you murdered, cheated, and lied to. I could be wrong though πŸ™‚

  30. Can’t not laugh at the expression she has at the end. Probably thinking ‘hope nobody thinks this is my fault’

    1. It would be better than my “I am so friggin sick because blood came out of somewhere there shouldn’t be a hole”

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