Friday, March 9, 2012

Sharing time

Ok, time for another "award".  This one's from Jim, over at Just a Lil Blog.  It's the "Tell Me About Yourself" award, and it works like this:
  • Share 7 things about yourself; 
  • Pass the award along to 15 bloggers you love reading; 
  • Contact your cho­sen bloggers to let them know about the award!"

I liked what Jim did, making the 7 things be from his childhood.  I think I'll call mine "The Harrowing Adventures of Young Jon":

1)  I shot myself in the eye with a BB gun.  

I was probably 10 years old and was out plinking at things with my trusty Crosman pump.  I took aim at this rotted out stump of a tree.  It was rotted out in such a way that the part that was left behind was roughly in the shape of a parabolic mirror.  Apparently, I was standing in the focal point.  When I fired, I saw the BB go out, and incredibly, saw it come right back for my eye (which I closed in time).  The BB didn't have enough energy left to do any was just like being thumped with a finger.  Nobody else was around.  I sat down and thought about it for a minute before moving on.

This taught me to choose my targets carefully.

2)  I was very nearly impaled.

A freshman in high school,  I was horseback riding with my friend Slasher.  It was early spring, and there were some patches of ice on the trail.  We were riding along a logging road, pretending to be those guys from "Alias Smith and Jones" (whose real names were Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry).  

The area we were in had recently had a bunch of saplings cut -- they used them at the local paper mill to stir the vats or something.  Most of them were right alongside the trail, and cut at an angle about a foot off the ground.

Slasher/Kid Curry: "There's just one thing we gotta get, Heyes."
Me/Hannibal: "What's that?"
Slasher:  "Out of this business!"

We both urged our horses into a gallop.  Yeehaw!  We rounded a curve and my horse, Lady, slid on an icy patch.  She went down and I managed to dismount enough to keep my leg from getting squished, but hit a little hard on my side.  As I got up, I discovered that I'd missed landing on a cut sapling by less than half a foot.  Yikes.

This taught me to pay attention to my environment, especially when re-enacting 70's TV shows.

3) I was very nearly impaled AGAIN.

Junior or senior year in high school, I was canoe camping with some buddies on the Buffalo River.  I think there had been some rain recently, making the river run fast.  At one point, we rounded a bend and were faced with a choice:  try to scoot over some *really* shallow stuff, or try to make it through the swift part.  The downside of the swift part was that it meant risking getting swept into a big mess of beaver-chewed punji sticks.  

As I recall, Mark Opie Potter Bucky Johnson steered his canoe into the shallows and ran aground.  I can't remember who was in my canoe, but we got sucked into the nastiness.  We pulled hard, but it didn't help.  I remember our canoe tipping enough that it slurped up some of that fast current and was sucked under, flotation chambers and all.  In the space of a few seconds, I was swept towards a hedge of beaver chewed stakes.  I caught the stake I was about to be impaled on with both hands and halted the process.  Pushing sideways let me sweep on down the river.  For that one moment, though, it was "work hard, or a 2" spike will gut you."

This taught me that beavers can mess you up bad.

4)  I used to be able to sleep through anything.

10?  11?  I don't remember exactly when this happened, but it was a dark and stormy night.  I was in bed, asleep, and thunder woke me up.  That and the flickering light of static on the TV screen in my room.  I thought that I'd turned the TV off, but I got up and walked over.  I tried to turn the power off, but it was already off.   To my mind, there was only one explanation...ghosts.  I unplugged the television and fortunately, it went dark. 

This taught me that sometimes you will not know why the universe does what it does.  It's ok to go to sleep without figuring it out.

5)  I played baseball half-blind.

I started playing baseball when I was 6 years old, I think.  I played outfield mostly, and I would listen for the crack of the bat.  I would watch other peoples' faces to figure out where I should position myself.  If I did it right, I would spot the ball for the last 20' or so of its flight.  I would occasionally catch it.  Personally, I think it was pretty impressive that I ever caught a ball under this system. 

It wasn't until the summer between 7th and 8th grade (I think) that we went on a driving vacation out west and Dad said, "Kids!  Look at those snow-capped mountains!".  I, of course, said, "What mountains?"  Dad immediately began quizzing me about when I could read billboards.  More often than not, I could not read them at all.  When we got back from vacation, I went to the eye doctor, and baseball became much easier.  Ridiculously easy.  

This taught me that we all see the world through different eyes.  And that you should get your kids eyes checked, 'cause they don't know what to tell ya.  They'll just assume that everybody sees trees as blurry green blotches.

6)  I didn't know what a "balk" was.

Once I got my glasses, things were a bit easier.  I wound up on the "good" team, playing first base, second base, and as a back-up pitcher.  Keep in mind that I was a country kid who didn't hang out with the city kids and never, ever watched baseball on TV.  I never read a rulebook.

For one game, we got pretty far ahead, and coach Wayne McIllwain decided to let me pitch a little.  I did, and in my recollection, I managed to let runners get on 1st and 2nd.  With the next batter, Ricky, the catcher, started watching for the runner to steal 3rd.  Just as I was about to unleash my super-fast fastball (the only pitch I had), he would look over to see if the runner was going.  This made me halt my throw.  (I didn't want to hit him!)

The crowd gasped.  I wound up again, and it happened again.  People were going nuts.  I didn't know what to do.  Part of me knew it was weird that I wasn't throwing the ball, but it'd never happened before and I didn't know quite what to do.

The crowd was chanting, "Balk!  Balk!," which made no sense to me.  Was that a chicken noise?  What did it mean?  The coach came out and asked me what was going on.  I told him...I didn't want to hit Ricky.  He told me to just throw the damned ball, so I did.  It was the end of the game anyway, but the absurdity of the situation stuck with me.  Here were a hundred people that had one expectation, all looking at me who hadn't read the rulebook.  I didn't play baseball after that. 

This made me want to only participate in things where I knew the rules.

7)  I saw the explosion.

When I was in 8th grade, there was a tragedy in my home town.  Snow hit partway through the day, and my sister drove down from high school to pick me up (snow meant no school in Tennessee...Utahns would scoff).  

We stopped at the pharmacy to get a Slurpee, and afterwards were walking towards our orange 1971 Pinto.  We climbed in, and Sis turned the key in the ignition.  I don't remember the sound, but I do remember the heat on the back of my neck.  We both looked back to see a fireball rising in the sky, about 2 blocks away. 

Sis and I looked at each other, and said in unison, "Let's get out of here!"  She jumped out of the car and started running away.  I stood up and said, "Let's take the car!"  We did.

Two of my friends' fathers died in that explosion.  

What did it teach me?  I'm going to say, "Life is fragile and precious," but I don't think I can really articulate the impact.

I'll tag somebody soon...I'd rather publish this and edit later.  Night night.

1 comment:

  1. childhood stories are fun! You were lucky to have a crossman. . . I had a daisy. I didn't like it because a daisy is a flower, not a gun. I never shot myself with it, though I almost shot myself with a .22.


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