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Lessons from Childhood

September 26, 2012

This is a story from my childhood.  Back when the world was in black and white and children could roam far and wide with the only danger being their own foolhardiness.  It’s a tad off-color as 9-year-olds tend to be, but I’ll try to keep it in the bounds of ok-taste…

Nine years old and glorying in our freedom, my best friend and I ranged in the woods far from home, probably playing war or cowboys, but definitely too far to make it back to a bathroom.  But we were in the great outdoors, nature’s restroom where any tree was a target.

Or in this case, a fence.

I didn’t know it was an electric fence until I felt the sizzling outline of my own bladder and felt my muscles and joints lock up, making stopping impossible.  I was going to cook until the fence ran out of juice or I did.

It’s amazing how slow time passes when you’re on the liquid version of Old Sparky.  First, there’s pain.  Then a feeling of helplessness as your body refuses to engage in either fight or flight.  Your ears hear the sizzle and your nose smells… well, never mind what the nose smells.  Your eyes go wide yet see nothing.  But most of all, I remember hearing my best buddy laughing and laughing and laughing.

I had time to realize, in a far part of my brain, that tomorrow, if I lived, I would be the laughingstock at school, teased and tormented mercilessly for weeks if not months.

Unless I did something about it.

Finally, the fluid link was broken, the electric dance complete.

Despite my numb, jelly-like body, I aimed my face toward the sky and yelled, “That was GREAT!”

My friend stopped laughing.  “What?” he said.

“You got any water?  I gotta load up and give it another go!”

“You liked that?” he said.

“I loved it; it was amazing!  I think I saw angels!”

“Really?”

“This was better than candy,” I said sagely.  “You shouldn’t do it, though.”

“Why not?” he said.

“I don’t think you’re strong enough.  It’s rigorous.”  I was proud of myself for working a vocabulary word in there.

That was all the challenge he needed.  A quick unzip, a prolonged zap and I was the one laughing.

As he sizzled, I realized what I had over my buddy.  While I had done something stupid by accident, HE had been eager and willing to do that same stupid thing with knowledge and forethought.  I now owned my friend and could work that leverage for all it was worth.  And I did.

Many lessons were learned that day.  For example:

  • If you’re quick on your feet, the solution to a problem may put you in a better position than if there had never been a problem.
  • People can easily be manipulated. Probably not the best lesson to learn.
  • People will try to sell you bad things.
  • A little humor can make the sting go away.
  • And most important of all; never pee on an electric fence.
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