Sunday, February 11, 2007

I challenge you to a duel! -- jcarolek

As children, we were not allowed to play with sticks. I’m uncertain where exactly in the rule ranking this particular rule fell, but it was well up there. Being perfect children, the six of us adhered closely to those rules (of course we did!)

Background information: We moved to England in 1968, when I was 10 and took with us our pet Capuchin monkey, Chico. In those days, the monkey had to be quarantined for about six months, I believe. At any rate, Dad was busy making Chico a new cage for when he would eventually be sprung from quarantine. The cage was being constructed with dowels.

Dowels may LOOK like sticks, but, in fact, my brother Tim and I determined they were NOT sticks. They were PERFECT for a sword fight and out into the back yard we went, each with our sword. We were quite talented duelers, having never seen such in real life or on TV, since we had no TV. Nevertheless, the books we read described the act in such detail, we sure we had it right!

All was going well, until Tim made a sudden jab and caught the fleshy part of my little finger on my left hand (clearly my poise was slightly off) and I felt a great pain. Now, here is the other part of the duel that goes without saying, (but I’ll say it anyway.) If you get hurt and you want to cry, you simply announce that the duel has ended and you do not CARE to continue!

I did the aforementioned and ran into the house, that I might shed my tears in private. My sister, Jeannie, who was “in charge” that day (since playing with dowels remarkably did not happen when our parents were home), was just finishing her routine of mopping and cleaning the house when our parents were gone. As I ran through the kitchen, still having never looked at my finger, I heard her demand, “who’s bleeding all over everything?”

Well, of course it was my blood. As it turned out, Tim’s dowel had a nail head sticking out of the end and it had caught my finger and tore the flesh to the bone. Now I had to endure my 11 year old sister and my 9 year old brother arguing over whether to “flush the wound with hot water or cold.” To this day, I don’t recall which they used. I do recall it HURT.

I also know that this little duel and the predictable results were never mentioned to my parents. As siblings tend to do, we made a silent pact of silence. We, the three eldest of the six would have fared nothing good by telling. On the other hand, we knew we would never again break the “no sticks rule” by redefining the stick. To this day, I have the knot of scar tissue from a poorly dressed wound that three siblings worked together to repair. Our conspiracy was one of many in which we engaged during those early years. Hmmm, I wonder if my children had such conspiracies.

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