Tuesday, September 17, 2013

A Hair-raising Tale

We left for Germany the day after I turned eight.  My dad was sent to work at an Army hospital in Nuremburg, and where my dad went, we all went, birthday or not.  When we arrived, my dad found a modest apartment building about five miles from the hospital, we moved in, and he went to work.

The rest of us were trapped.

It was summer. My brother and I had nothing to do.  We didn't know anyone, and we didn't speak or read German.  The only boy we met was the landlord's son, a rotund little boy named Ralph.  Ralph had a mouth full of rotting teeth, which my brother thought was the coolest thing ever. They became fast friends, communicating in whatever universal language little boys used.  

I did not have any round, toothless children to play with.  I tried to amuse myself.  I played with the two or three toys that I had been allowed to bring on the plane. I listened to the radio and sang at the top of my lungs, until my mother took the radio.  I read every single book in the apartment.  Twice.   

And I electrocuted myself. 

I was in my room.  I was pretending that I had found a magical key that would open into another dimension. This magical dimension bore a striking similarity to the Emerald City from Oz, except that there was candy involved.  Mountains of deliciously sweet candy.  The hairpin in my hand was the key, and the 220 volt electrical outlet was the keyhole.  I stuck in the key, and turned it. 

Instead of a door opening into a shower of gummi bears, there was a loud pop and the smell of ozone.  My bones turned to jelly, my skin became gelatin. I slowly pulled the smoking hairpin out of the outlet.  I sat very still on the floor, my heart racing, my breath shallow.  I had the shakes, but I wasn't cold.  My hand hurt.  I looked down; at the base of my thumb was an angry blister, filling with fluid.  I just sat there staring, watching it swell.  I don't know how long I sat like that.

My first conscious thought was to wonder why my mother hadn't come running when she heard that popping sound.  My second thought was to hide what happened, because back then there was only one punishment for every infraction, and I felt that I had been punished quite enough, thank you.  I looked at the outlet; there was nothing to indicate that an eight year old had foolishly stuck a hairpin into it.  No evidence, no witness, and unless I told anyone; my secret was safe.

But I felt odd.  Shaky.  Drained.  Exhausted.  I managed to get to my feet long enough to stumble to the bed, and then I passed out.  I woke up three hours later, just in time for dinner, feeling myself again. And nobody was the wiser.


26 comments:

  1. Dear God, lady. You're lucky to be writing this!

    we are silly and adventurous and completely goofy as children aren't we?
    I am just happy that you woke up and no one was the wiser.

    I bet your approach each outlet in your life with a bit of caution now. ;)

    geesh, I just want to hug you and say,
    "THANK GOD!"

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    1. I certainly gave my guardian angel a fit! And yes, I now have a very healthy respect for electricity.

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  2. I did that when I was nine. I was looking for a good place to hang my jewelry... did you know that gold is an excellent conductor of electricity? Yeah. Black scorch marks right up the wall. And that was only 110.

    220? Dang girl... that's scary.

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    1. You know, I feel a little better knowing that I wasn't the only little girl discovering first hand the 'fun' of electricity. :-)

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  3. Awesome story. Did you ever tell your mom, or would this be her first knowledge of it? Man, if only you'd had a friend with crappy teeth to save you from getting electroshocked...

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    1. I expect my mom will be rolling her eyes at me when she reads this. Thank you for reading!

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  4. Wow. Glad the current wasn't stronger.

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  5. I bet you never did that again.

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  6. Oh my gosh, you ELECTROCUTED yourself?? Every parent's worst nightmare!
    Does make for a good story, though. :)

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  7. So have you figured out what superpower this experience left you with? Such a well told tale!

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    1. The only superpower that I got out of that adventure was some sort of electro-magnetic sensitivity. I short out digital watches almost immediately after I put them on my wrist. I'm still not sure what good that does humanity, however.

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  8. Well I guess you found something to pass the time.....

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  9. Well, you lived to tell the tale, and quite a tale it is!!

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  10. This was terrifying! Omg, I wish you'd had someone with no teeth to play with!

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    1. I know! It was all their fault. Thanks for reading.

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  11. OMG that is so scary! Where was that kid with no teeth when you needed them?

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  12. Wow, how scary. Glad you were ok. This is a parents nightmare for sure!

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    1. Good thing my parents never knew! Thanks for reading.

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