FLAGPOLE LICKERS ANONYMOUS

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I truly was a Poster Child for birth control when I was a lot younger. My mother tells me that birth control pills came out a few years AFTER I was born. Phew! I think by the look in her eyes when she tells me stuff like that I should interpret it as meaning that if the FDA had been a little speedier on their approval of The Pill old Mildred might not be here today. Imagine that! A world without Mildred!

Anyone who knows me well knows that I am and have always been that person who always does what they're warned not to do just because I can.  Having someone tell me that I can't do something only makes me want to do it. I'm sure there's probably some psychiatric diagnosis to explain that "I'll show you" type of behavior! And to think they claimed I  would eventually grow out of it! ha! I do, however resist the urge to touch something that has a WET PAINT sign on it now. Maybe now that I'm older, I do less things that can be considered questionable, but as a child I was in high gear and in my glory.  Okay, so my glory days lasted a little longer than just my childhood. What can I say? Mildred is a mess and no, I didn't grow out of it...well, not completely anyways, but I act okay most of the time.

For example, when I was younger I wanted to know what it felt like to touch a bare wire and get zapped by electricity.  I can tell you that it really tingles! But it was a hard sell to get anyone else to try it.  Maybe those other kids were just more pragmatic than I was am.  Hey, it wasn't like I touched a high voltage wire.  I cut the cord from an old lamp so that the plug was still attached. Then I exposed the electrical wires so that I could touch them.  After plugging the cord in, I grabbed a hold of the bare wires. Yes, it tingles and that's all I have to say about it. I satisfied my curiosity and never intentionally messed around with electricity again.  My next zap was much more powerful and was done accidentally.  But that's another story for another time.

When I was in elementary school, during the winter it was a rite of passage to stick your tongue on the flagpole.  Sign me up! You see, I was good at doing risky stuff no matter how small and petty it may be considered.  There's an art to flagpole licking and I knew just how long I could put my tongue on the flagpole without having it stick there. Other kids weren't so well versed in the mechanics of flagpole licking in the middle of winter.  I know I must have gotten my tongue stuck a time or two, but if I had, I don't remember the incident. Obviously, it didn't deter me from doing such a stupid stunt again and again.

Now, I think about all the poor teachers who used to have to come out from their warm classroom to get another idiot unstuck. Teachers have to put up with so many shenanigans from young fools.  I actually feel sorry for them and nowadays, I'm sure that the stunts I used to pull would be considered pretty lame.  But back in the day, Mildred was da bomb. If it became a thought and if that thought piqued my interest or brought a smile to my face then the deed was going to be done. I just had to figure it out and they say practice makes perfect!

For those of you who don't live in an area where winter means snow, ice and sub-zero temperatures, sticking your tongue on a flagpole in the dead of winter usually means that your tongue freezes to the metal quickly.  If you're stupid enough to get your tongue frozen to a metal flagpole, trying to pull it free is definitely the wrong thing to do. I've seen kids pull flesh off their tongue trying to free themselves. I can understand freaking out once you realize your tongue is stuck, but in any risky situation, you have to go in with a back-up plan. You know, just in case things don't go as planned.  Every kid knew that a teacher would eventually come with a cup of warm water to free them, but most would panic before the teacher got there. And you know what panic in any situation means. It usually means someone is going to get hurt and that someone usually is you if you don't wait for the teacher.  Duh! Keeping your wits about you and not panicking when placed in any type of jeopardy is a difficult thing to do, but if you have the balls to do something risky, you have to be willing to pay the consequences if  all doesn't go as planned. To all those kids who got frozen to the flagpole and ended up leaving a little something behind...it sucks to be you!

My oldest brother once told me I'm a selfless person. Who me? Damn it! I can't have people running around making wild accusations like that about me! After all I have a certain reputation to uphold. He claimed I was the type of person who would run into a burning building to save someone without thinking of my own safety. When he told me that I thought he was crazy. I guess we rarely see ourselves as others see us. I think he might have overstated my selflessness a bit, but I was a firefighter for a period of time so maybe he's right after all, but that's another story for another time. I think maybe he was reading my willingness to do something heroic as being selfless whereas I would see it as part to my overall risk-taking behavior. The final result may be seen as selfless, but the motivation for the action was more deeply rooted. I've always liked the feeling of being on the edge with one foot dangling into the abyss. For the longest time after I was no longer on the fire department, any time I heard the siren from a fire truck, it would trigger an adrenaline rush. That was the weirdest feeling to have adrenaline surging through me and have no outlet for it. Like a Dalmatian dog you see in cartoons running after the fire truck, that's what I wanted to do, but I was afraid if I ran after it, I'd also start chasing garbage trucks, barking at the mailman and peeing on fire hydrants, too.

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