Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cautionary Tales of Sudden Death.

My childhood was highly protected. I wasn't allowed to do anything deemed "dangerous" by my parents. Even though, by the age of 12, I was often doing the manual labor of a grown man, I was not allowed to participate in many fun and exciting "normal" childhood activities for fear of my demise. Frankly, I was probably three steps away being locked in the barn (for safety) and handed a shovel (because there was manure to be cleaned and I was in there, so I might as well earn my keep.)


Here are a few cautionary tales of warranted instant death that I learned from ma and pa:

  • Quick sand! Watch out for it! It's the silent killer! First of all, don't be stupid enough to blindly walk into quick sand. Pay attention! If you are ignorant enough to get stuck in quick sand, don't thrash around. Just yell for HELP then start searching for a big stick so that someone can pull you out. But seriously, you shouldn't have ever gone into the quick sand in the first place. What a disappointment. Now hurry up and get yourself out of there, because it is time to shovel out the grain bin. Just stay to the edges because the center is a sinkhole vortex of asphyxiation by corn. Here's a shovel.

  • Beware of thin ice! The ice, even on the coldest of days in January, is a trick! It is an unsafe place, even if it appears to be a foot thick. Ice skating is only for fancy city folk on their temperature controlled ice rinks. DO NOT GO ONTO A FROZEN POND AND ICE SKATE. You can fall through the ice and drown. It happens all the time... and children die. It's like quick sand, only worse, because it is really cold.  Now here's an heavy, sharpened ax for you to spend an hour chopping through that pond so that the livestock can drink. Watch your toes.  

  • Bicycles are two-wheeled rigs of ruin! Riding bikes on the road=sudden death by speeding car. But the driveway is safe! Even if it is only 200 feet long and made from golf ball sized jagged stones. Stones so sharp that will take out an eye upon impact when they dislodge your bike tire. What's a helmet? Hurry up! We have some hay bales that weigh as much as you and they aren't going to stack themselves.

  • Trampolines are only for expendable children! YOU MAY NOT USE THE TRAMPOLINE. EVER. You will break your arms, legs, or worse, YOUR NECK. You will either be dead or spending the rest of your life in a wheelchair. No child needs to bounce around that high off the ground on a tarp stretched with springs! Sure, you and your sister can try to jump between the stacks of big round bales, just don't push each other off the hay again. We also need you to ride in the bed of the truck on the way home because the cab is full of dogs and your father's guns.

  • No diving! You will die! Diving can only result in severe head injury, a life in a wheelchair or sudden death. Just don't do it. Ever. It might be too shallow and you'll never know until it is too late! Now put on your boots and gloves because we need to separate these angry, over protective longhorn cows from their calves. It's weaning time!

  • ATV= Absolute Termination Vehicle. Four-wheelers and motorcycles are motorized manifestations of fatality, or at least certain dismemberment and severe head injuries. Now, stand at this gate while I feed the hay. Open it quickly to let me out when I'm done. I'll come towards you in the tractor and the buffalo may be following. Make sure to close it AS FAST AS POSSIBLE or that entire herd of stampeding buffalo that is running straight towards you will get out! Ready? GO!

  • Playing video games is the equivalent of volunteering for euthanasia. Video games will rot your mind and turn you into a sloth. Also, you will lose your ability to interact with real humans and work ethic. Death with ensue, after you have lived a boneless fatty existence in your parent's basement. Plus, you can't waste time on gaming because you need to help remove that asbestos siding from the shed, so get your gloves and move it.

  • Your body is a temple. Don't pollute it. If you smoke cigarettes, your teeth will turn yellow and your lungs will turn black, causing you to hack up phlegm in front of attractive males. And then you will die. What time is it? Sure, you can have Tombstone pizza and Diet Coke for dinner again.

Yet...
I was allowed to ride horses of all sizes! No helmets were required! As a small child, I was tossed on the backs of horses that ranged in size from 600-1,200 pounds. Horses, animals with a mind of their own, hooves shod in iron, and a deeply ingrained flight response, were totally safe. The rest of the world, however, was a certain crouching death, waiting to claim me for the dark side.

But here is a 1,100 pound random horse that your dad just picked up from the sale barn!
Why don't you hop on him bareback and take him for a spin around the pasture....

Thanks Mom and Dad. I still fear death by ice, bicycle, quick sand, ATV's or canvas stretched on bungee cords, but I absolutely live for time spent on the back of a horse.


Let's see how much of this wisdom I can pass along to my own children.

I'll start with, "Snakes will kill you. And if you bring one into the house, I will kill you."

And always...
WATCH OUT FOR QUICK SAND!

Peace, Love and Licking Lead Paint,
Johi



25 comments:

  1. I am utterly terrified of escalators and that little gap in the floor when the elevator doors open. Tales of shoelaces or hair getting caught in the moving steps or keys/money/etc falling down into that slim black pit have rendered me nearly incapable of going to a mall/using the metro like a normal person. But also surprisingly not afraid to be on the back of a horse... hmm...

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    1. I hear you. Tiny black gaps = black holes to oblivion.

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  2. Train tracks will kill you...NEVER EVER play near the train tracks. Yes, we live directly across the street from the tracks and the school play yard is directly on the other side of the train tracks, what's your point?

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    1. Ha! Yes. The infamous "death by train tracks". I think I watched that in a movie once.

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  3. This post is awesome. Seriously funny stuff!

    My parents had me pretty scared of driving on the steep, bumpy, winding dirt roads above our town, but I'm glad for that. Too many kids rolled their rigs screwing off up there. Related: I'm also afraid of Jeeps. Unrelated: I'm also afraid of thin ice.

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    1. I often have this dream of driving on a steep bumpy road and I am going too fast- out of control- and my brakes don't work! ARRRRGHGHHHHH! I'm going so fast and I can't STOP! You're comment reminded me of that.

      I still want a Jeep.

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  4. I have a fear of quicksand from an encounter horseback- scarey stuff! And trampolines will get you hurt just standing next to it- I have the scar to prove it! Gotta love farm parent logic...

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    1. That is why we heard so much about quick sand- we were always riding through sketchy areas.

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  5. Why is it that every American child knows that if you fall into quicksand you shouldn't struggle, but should wait for someone to throw you a rope or pass a stick that you can grab onto? I have never seen quicksand in my life, never known of anyone who fell into quicksand, and don't expect I'll ever need this knowledge....

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    1. Our parents probably learned it along with that info about fallout shelters and gas masks.

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  6. I played on railroad tracks and sometimes on the moving trains. My parents put me on horses that had not been broken yet, because, as a child, I bounced better when thrown off. My brothers and I set each other on fire for fun and drove 2 ton flat bed trucks all over the country side. However, my mother was terrified of us eating hard candy. She was always worried we would suck it down our windpipe and choke to death.

    She wouldn't let us out of her sight when we had any. We had to sit right in front of her and not talk. Talking or laughing increased the danger.

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    1. This entire comment made me laugh. Thank goodness I wasn't eating any hard candy.

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  7. I am so glad I'm not the only one with an irrational fear of quick sand. It's probably why I still live in NJ.

    Hugs!

    Valerie

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    1. What? No quick sand in NJ? I'll come out and find some for you.

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  8. That horse has some serious horsey dandruff.

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    1. I do believe that is snow. And I believe that because I took that picture of my horse while riding him in the snow. :)

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  9. My mom had a few helpful tips too:
    1. Every man you encounter is dangerous. He will probably abduct you from a gas station or other location, and you will disappear forever. He will do horrible nameless things to you. He will kill you. You will never see us again. So you had better beware of men. She told us stories about her friend from high school who went to a gas station and was kidnapped and disappeared from the face of the earth never to be seen or heard from again. Her bones were later found on the edge of the town. There’s no telling what that man who abducted her did to her, but he probably barbecued her and served her to the sheriff. It happens. It happens ALL. THE. TIME.
    2. People in panel vans only drive them so that they can kidnap innocent children. Stay far away from them. It is for this reason, I have had an irrational fear of vans and strange men my entire life. When I was a child, I didn’t dream about monsters and creatures under my bed, I dreamt about strange men, coming through my window to kidnap me and take me to a far away place. I can tell you I never, EVER talked to a strange man as a child. Once, a man approached us to ask if we had seen his dog, and I ordered my brothers to run for the hills, and I followed. We ran from that man like he was Adolf Hiltler surrounded by SS Guards with submachine guns. Talking to men meant you would end up dead. And it wouldn’t be a pleasant death.
    3. Never climb up radio/electric towers. You know those giant towers made of metal about 3 stories high? We were never to come anywhere close to them. These towers were dangerous for two reasons: (1.) If you climbed them, you were placing yourself at risk of being hit by a bolt of lightning from anywhere in a 40 mile radius. If there was a bolt of lightning to be had, it would hit you if you were climbing one of those towers. (2.) Those towers were notoriously unstable and might send bolts of electricity down their metal legs and through your body. You would not be able to let go until you were dead. This happened to one of my mom’s brother’s friends, tragically both struck by lightning AND electrocuted by the tower at the same time. He was stuck like a magnet to the tower for a few moments, then he was blown 40 feet to the field below. He was dead. And if you climbed a tower, you would end up dead too. I never climbed a tower, in fact, just to be safe, I avoided the general vicinity of any towers I saw. And telephone poles. I figured they were almost as high and there was no reason to place myself in undue danger.
    4. Never go through storm sewer pipes or down manholes, or anywhere near street gutters. There were these huge pipes that a child could stand up straight in, that connected the creek on one side of the street to the creek on the other side of the street. These tunnels went underground and could go for miles underground, connecting storm sewers and street water runoff creeks for an entire neighborhood. My mother told us that we should not go near those, and we definitely shouldn’t go in them. She knew some boys once who went in them and a flashflood filled them up in a split second and they died. If we went in them, even on a sunny day, there was always the risk that a flash flood would ensue and we would be drowned instantly. Oddly, we were allowed to play in the runoff creek, probably because it did not enclose us in a spherical tube, and we would not die.

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    1. Awesome comment.
      1. Yes, especially if the man is wearing a clown suit.
      2. Yes, particularly if the van is white, and being driven by a man in a clown suit that is trying to "show you his puppy"
      3. I have major issues with both lightening and electricity. I have reasons. I will write about it in my memoir. But YES.
      4. And the alligators. You forgot about those.

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  10. What are you doing hunched over a keyboard? Bad ergonomics can cripple you! You should be out shoveling something!

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    1. Dammit! You are so right! I shoveled six loads of manure today to make up for it. (I'm not kidding, I really did shovel 6 loads of poo today. I'm pretty glamorous like that.)

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  11. Okay, you crack me up. I have to agree on the bike thing. Bikes are bad. So is skiing. And climbing trees... I have a lot in common with your folks ;)

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    1. As long as you like to do manual labor for free, they would love you.

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  12. Replies
    1. Thank you. I enjoyed pulling up all those repressed memories. Then I called my mom and read it to her. She (mostly) laughed. :)

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  13. Ahhh! Now I'm scared to go outside!

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