December 19, 2004

Queenie Discovers Electricity

A certain blogger, whom we'll call X, gave me a treasure earlier this evening, the tale of X's earliest memory: sticking a bobby-pin in a lamp socket. I squealed with delight at the sheer metaphor of it (you would too, if I welshed on this bloggers inblognito, which I won't) and speculated snarkily on the brain damage potential in such an incident. I was smirking...for a second. Then, I remembered...

I was eight, and we were living in Eufaula, Alabama. Long, hot-as-shit summer day. Neighbor kids were at camp. Cross-the-street girl was grounded. Swim Team did not meet. Cable did not yet exist, nor did X-Box nor Playstation nor even Atari. There was no internet, no computer. Daddy was on a business trip and momma had a migraine, so I was left to my own infernal devices.

I remember that I'd been on something of a Star Trek kick - I was even trying my sci-fi lit wings by test-driving some of the Heinlein "Young Reader" stuff from the public library, just for fun - and I was really into the idea of space exploration, new worlds, alien races. My head was full of it, imagining myself as Space Ranger Queenie, Mistress of the Stars, jetting around in a bad-ass spaceship, conquering worlds and bringing "enlightenment" to the galaxy in a slutty-looking paramilitary-type uniform that usually involved spandex pants (give me a break, it was the seventies) and "Bionic Woman" type biotech implants.


I decided I'd play "pretend" and make-believe a spaceship out in the garage; since daddy's car was gone, there was plenty of room for me to set up a good one. I dragged some boxes into a rectangle shape, up against the wall, to be my ship. I brought pillows and blankets out there, to put padding between my skinny little behind and the hard concrete floor. I whipped out the Majik Markers and drew an array of buttons and squiggly things on the tops of the boxes - control panel, you know - and I wrangled the perennially ill-tempered family dog into the cockpit with me, to be my alien second-in-command. I plugged in the radio, purloined from the kitchen, as my com station, and I was all set up. I was ready to blast off!

I pulled momma's car key - also liberated from the kitchen - out of my shorts pocket, stuck it in the "ignition"...which, as I'm sure you have guessed, was the electrical outlet...and "blasted off".

I blasted, all right. The recoil from that thing knocked me clean across the garage, leaving behind a broad ding in the driver's side of momma's Town and Country Wagon (from the back of my head) and the slight smell of burning hair. I didn't leave the garage, but I sure enough saw plenty stars.

When I was able to get the tweety-birds to stop flying in circles around my head, I very quietly disassembled my space ship, carefully erasing all traces of my ill-fated game, and settled silently on the couch with a book. I kept my best "innocent" look at the ready, just in case momma's migraine should abate before dark and allow her to see the car. After all, I knew my momma; if she found out I'd dinged her car AND done something that stupid, I'd get an ass-whipping and I'd never hear the end of it.

It hurt...but I learned. Kids are tough as shoe-leather, and you can't protect them from everything. Once mine got past baby-age, I threw all those "childproof" outlet-caps in the trash. Hell, it won't kill 'em...and they'll only try it once.

Posted by Queenie at December 19, 2004 01:38 AM

I did the SAME FUCKING THING!!! 4 yrs old, in the kitchen of the little ramshackle half-of-a-double we lived in at Hickham AFB. Mom was off having the Younger Montezz sister, and we were left in the care of Dad, who really was trying his best, but who was, at the time, peeling my younger brother out of some misfortune he had found himself in (probably at my prodding, but I dont remember for sure).

I grabbed that housekey, the extra one on the red string that occupied a "secret place" in the silverware drawer, crouched down next to the outlet, and slid that bad boy in.

I think that arm was numb for the rest of the day. I didn't have a good tight grip on it, as I had been told repeatedly what would happen if I did such a thing, but I was as mentally deficient and immortal as any other 4 yr old and had to prove it to myself.

Never did that again. No, Ma'am. Never. And when I discovered my progeny was contemplating the same scenario, I at least had a first-person historical reference to back up my "Because I Said So."

Damn, we were dumb, weren't we?

Posted by: Mamamontezz at December 19, 2004 03:40 AM

I have my own stories, as I am sure does everyone. All I can say is, in the world of "keep the kids safe" political correctness, somehow we all survived. No worse for the wear and probably a hell of a lot smarter than some of the ding-bats making the "safety" laws today.

Posted by: Wichi Dude at December 19, 2004 09:23 AM

Just found your blog today. Bookmarked after 3 minutes. Could be a new record!

I played with fire...once. The ass-whupping my father gave me would've sent him to prison. I still can't strike a match without having a real good reason. Some discoveries are best left "un".

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at December 19, 2004 10:23 AM

Fortunately you were thrown. Otherwise...

Sorry, just thinking like a mom. That shit hurts too! Maybe one day I'll post my Electric Key story.

(It's sorta embarassing, cuz I was stupid as an adult. : D)

Posted by: Key at December 19, 2004 10:58 AM

Riding the lightning is a rush. Of course, that hoary old adage about falling off a horse and getting back on doesn't work with alternating current.

Posted by: Velociman at December 19, 2004 10:59 AM

LOL...Thanks, I needed that...

Posted by: Fungus at December 19, 2004 02:20 PM

Heck, I left those damn socket protectors in until they left home. Smart kids are the worst. Whenever I took one to the emergency room, they always had my kids files up front on a 'special' shelf. Not good that the ER doctors knew me and my kids by our first names and sucker flavor preference.

When my oldest was about 16 months old, I was walking down the hall towards their room, and I saw lightning flash under his brothers crib, and he came rolling out backwards and ended up all goggle-eyed in the middle of the room, his hair waving lazily like a sea anemone under water. He left the night light alone after that.

Posted by: Bane at December 19, 2004 02:41 PM

Your giving me a flashback that goes back decades. Eww, did that hurt and scramble my brains temporarily or at least I think temp. Thanks for the laugh.

Posted by: BeeBee at December 19, 2004 07:02 PM

[shaking head]

Never stuck a key in an electrical socket.

However... One night, in a fit of sexual passion, I decided to unplug the lamp near the (sofa) bed by pulling the power cord out of the wall rather than reaching allll the way over to the pull-chain...

Yup, the power cord was frayed. Yup, I got shot across the room. Nope, the electric shock did not travel through my dick into the object of my affection.

Since I was 17 at the time, it had no discernable detrimental effect on my willingness to, as the expression goes, get back on the horse.

Although, looking back, "horse" isn't the correct term. "Pig" would be more like it...

Posted by: Jay G at December 20, 2004 11:02 AM

I was smarter than all of you! I used a pair of tweezers so as to complete the circuit. After, I took a nap.

Posted by: wes jackson at December 22, 2004 02:24 AM
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