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Scott’s Shocking Discovery

or

I Told You So

 

Preface

I cannot remember the exact year, therefore it makes it hard for me to remember my exact age, but maybe that is not important.  I do know this, it happened before I began shaving. 

Events unfold in our lives that when they occur, seem unimportant, seem merely happenings.  However, , but when age catches up, one realizes there are only a few events that shape one’s character and define one’s self.  This, with the aid of age, is the story of one such event that appeared to be just a happening, but became a turning point in my life.  There are but a few of these events for each person, events that shape, mold, and define a life. 

This is the story of one such event in my days.

                                                                 Scott Umstattd

 

The young have a way of seeing the world as they want.  They see clowns as heroes, a crayon as a tool for communicating, books without pictures as an excellent source for fire, and an electrical outlet as a perfect place to stick something metal.  With years, one realizes clowns are only funny, crayons are used for coloring, books without pictures are, well they do give a good kick-start to a fire. . .  But most importantly, age allows us to realize an electrical outlet is not a thing with which you should play.  Through my years, I have found realization in all of these truths, most importantly the one about the electrical outlets.

Being told not to do something is the most sure fire way to ensure that someone will in fact, do it.  My mother and father both said not to play with the electrical distributors in our house.  They warned that doing so could cause me great harm.  I had been warned, yet, without first hand knowledge, I thought all of it to be only hearsay.  I was one who had to learn on my own.  I was not just going to listen to all the advice given to me as truth.  Some of it had to be tested, to see if those laying down these truths knew of what they were talking.  If I never questioned anyone I would never be myself, I would only be exactly what someone else wanted me to be.  I was not going to be what someone else wanted me to be, I was going to be myself, living under my own set of truths, guided by my own actions.

It was winter; I remember it was basketball season.  Mom was in the bathroom making her hair stand as far off her head as she could while I lay on the bed in the adjoining bedroom.  My hair had been set for some time and I was already fully clothed.  I wondered why it took her so long to fix her hair.  Had she not been doing this for some time now?  Why does it take her so long to make herself presentable?  You would think that age and experience would help a person become more adept at getting ready to go out.  This is obviously not the case. 

With age comes the added persecution of more time in the bathroom, more time needed to prepare.  At my age, I did not understand how this could be.  So, with all the patience of a drag racer at the starting light, I waited on the bed for Mom to finish so we could meet Pop at the basketball game. 

The lights in my head turned green and I was off seeking adventure.  I had no time to waste waiting for something as menial as hair placement.  I made my way around the bedroom finding whatever interest I could in artifacts that had already been discovered or understood.  It was during this time that I saw an electrical outlet in the wall of the bedroom.  The opening had nothing in it and it seemed to provide no purpose, other than being something to intrigue me. 

I rolled off the bed to take a closer look at this thing that I did not fully understand.  I put my hand on the outlet prodding my fingers into the holes while trying to figure out how they made a light turn on and off.  I was amazed at the structure of the tiny portal.  Those holes . . . something had to go in them to make the whole thing work. 

I tried sticking my fingers in the slots, but even though I was not yet shaving, my fingers were still too big to fit in the tiny tunnels.  I looked around for something smaller than my finger, something that would fit into the crevices.  I walked into the bathroom where Mom stood depleting the ozone layer and found a tiny hairpin. 

This would work wonderfully, I reasoned.  I looked up at Mom and gave her a smile that only her child could give and made my way back into the bedroom – aiming straight for the socket.  I wasted no time in sticking the hairpin into one of the cavities.  Nothing happened.  I thought surely a light would turn on somewhere in the house, or maybe the blender would begin blending in the kitchen.  However, nothing came from sticking the hair clip in the outlet.  I then prodded other openings in the outlet and none of them seemed to be working.  It was then that I pulled the hairpin apart making it possible to stick the pin in two holes at once.  I stuck my newly aligned pin into two corresponding cavities and the outlet wasted no time in telling me to get that thing out of there. 

My right arm went numb.  The smell of burning flesh made its way into the night air.  The hairs on my arm, what little I did have, stood upright and tried to jump out of my skin.  I fell back on my posterior and gave a mumbled wail of pain.  My tongue went numb and the rest of my body seemed dead and overly alive all at once.  The pain in my right arm became unbearable as my tongue regained it composure. 

This time I was able to let wail with a cry that made the neighbor’s dogs bark.  Mom gave the ozone a rest and rushed in to see why I was crying.  She need only look at the hairpin fused to my fingers and smell the burning flesh to understand what her son had done. 

I tried to inform her of my actions, but I was still lacking the motor skills to relay thought to speech.  Electricity was flowing though my body like the urine that had just flown from my bladder.  Although I lay there in devastating pain, Mom’s first reaction was to reproach me. 

“I told you not to play with those things.  Maybe next time you’ll listen to me.”  Next time.  There would be no next time.  Whatever this woman said was gold, I would do whatever she bid as long as she did something to stop my power meter from running.     

I lay on my back looking up at my mother.  I can see right up her nose, I thought to myself.  I could hear her talking, but at this point it sounded like a lecture and luckily for me, the electricity that flowed through me made it nearly impossible to comprehend the tongue-lashing I was apparently receiving.  My only thought was, When will the hurting stop?  This was the one sentence that reverberated through my skull as I lay on my back. 

Eventually, emitting a big sigh and rolling her eyes, Mom left me and walked into the bathroom again.  Was her hair that important to her?  Could she not find the time to care for her wounded, ignorant son?  Was I to lay here for eternity with my meter running?  What was she doing?  What kind of mother was she? 

Then she walked back to my side and began rubbing something cool and soothing on my hand and arm.  I do not know if the ointment did any good, but I was glad she decided not to abandon me for her hair.  She rubbed in the lotion for sometime and slowly the feeling began to return to my right side.  I would have been better off without that feeling, however, for now I was starting to feel the repercussions of my youthful adventure and the feeling was not good. 

All of the hairs on my arm throbbed in unison to the beating of my heart.  My muscles twitched and contorted on their own volition.  There was a deep burning in my bones no ointment could soothe.  Pain was now my life and it seemed from this day forward, it would always be a part of me. 

I was able to make my way out of the bedroom and away from the outlet, away from the source of all that ailed me.  As I made my way into the kitchen, I noticed I was walking with a constant curve to the right, as if my sense of balance had been misaligned, much in the same manner as our ‘67 Chevy.  Luckily for me, the kitchen was off to the right and my constant curving fit right in to the floor plans of the house. 

Rusty sat in his high chair, unable to see what happened.  I told him those outlets in the wall were not to be played with and he should take my word for it and not try to figure that truth out for himself.  He drooled once in a sign of understanding.  I looked at my reflection in a window and noticed my hair was no longer combed and properly adjusted.  Each individual strand stood on end attempting to create its own idea of what my head should look like. 

I circled over to the sink and wet my hands to smooth my hair in an attempt to prove to each hair that I knew how they should be positioned.  At that moment, I learned water and electricity do not mix.  A secondary volt of energy went through my body causing me to drop the water cupped in my hands and no longer care about my appearance.  I circled in several rotations until I found my way to the couch where I sat down for a moment to account for the last five minutes of my life.  My hand was still throbbing, so I had to sit on it to keep it attached to my arm.  Just five minutes prior, I had been bored on my parents’ bed, ignorant to the ways of electricity.  Now I was a much wiser person and wished I were still only bored.  I tried to relive the moment in my head several times before Mom came out of the bathroom ready to go to the game.

As we drove to the gym, I sat on my hand for fear of having it drop off.  I said little on the drive as we listened to the music on the radio.  All I could do was relive the moments before I stuck both ends of the hairpin into the outlet.  The last thing I fully recalled was grabbing the hairpin and giving Mom my patented, “Aren’t I the cutest little kid you’ve ever seen before” smile. 

While riding in the car, I was unable to comprehend all the events that had just unfolded accurately.  I have since learned that in times of severe stress the mind has a way of blocking memories, a sort of self-protection feature built in to provide security for the brain.  That must have been what happened to me as I rode with Mom in the car to the game. 

Eventually we arrived at the gymnasium and found Pop.  Mom wasted no time in telling him what his son had done.  With my arm still throbbing and the threat of my hand falling off still looming over my horizon, I endured yet another lecture on outlets and the importance of listening to my parents.  It seemed that both of them found more joy in reveling in my disobedience than in providing comfort to their injured offspring. 

Many years have gone by since that fateful and educational night that I sought to find truth on my own terms.  Had I simply taken my parents’ advice, I would have avoided situations in the years since that caused much more pain than an electrical outlet.  But then again, I would not be the man I am today. 

I do know this: if I ever have kids, I will lay down the truth, as I know it, knowing that it will do no good.  I am certain that my kids will not take my word for it.  They will have to learn on their own. 

But, when they find out I was right all along, I will be certain to let them know, “I told you so.”

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