As I take a swig of drain cleaner

Trini and I were talking allergies the other day, and she’s got a bunch of them: peanuts, some soaps, inadequate operating-system documentation. To my knowledge, I’m not allergic to anything at all, and I attributed this bit of good fortune, mostly tongue-in-cheek, to an unscheduled visit to the middle of a Texas cesspool in the early 1960s. “If that didn’t kill me,” I quipped, “what can?”

Maybe I wasn’t kidding:

It was a much more savage and lawless time on the playground in those days, and one wonders if our modern predilection for defeating Darwin won’t have repercussions on the vitality of the race down the road. In these depressing times I’ve seen people want to go to emergency rooms for “injuries” that wouldn’t have rated a Time Out from a pine cone war when I was a kid. I remember one neighborhood kid who stopped a BB during a territorial dispute back in the day … and Bobby cowboyed up and drove on, and the BB gun war was forgotten, and we spent the rest of the afternoon on the same team, clearing the swamp of Orcs (or Germans or Indians or Klingons or whatever was infesting it that week). For all I know, Bobby’s still carrying that BB around in his arm.

Not today, though; today we sap and impurify kids’ precious bodily fluids by swaddling them in bubble wrap from their first breath ’til the age of majority, when we then expect them to vote responsibly and make wise financial decisions. We need to stop. We need to weed out the slow and the stupid again. We need to let Darwin back into the home. Take the covers off your outlets. Store your dangerous household chemicals in the middle of the living room floor. Keep a pet Bengal tiger.

I don’t know if I’d go that far — surely the Murphy’s Oil Soap can’t be good for the tiger — but as P. J. O’Rourke noted, pain is the body’s way of showing us we’re boneheads, and if you don’t learn that early, you will surely learn it late, when it hurts a heck of a lot more.





4 comments

  1. McGehee »

    30 December 2006 · 9:59 am

    I opined long ago that the schoolyard — at least, the one I remember — was the surviving modern analog to the “state of nature” that Locke and Hobbes used to write about, though normally without the lethal consequences Hobbes envisioned.

    I still believe such an environment was good for us, in that for the most part it helped drive home the overall lesson us little brats were supposed to be getting inside the building: that it was far better for all concerned to embrace this funky newfangled “civilization” concept that was all the rage among the grown-ups.

    All in the mode of “you don’t appreciate what you’ve got until you experience its lack.”

  2. rita »

    30 December 2006 · 9:30 pm

    Mike still detests pickles to this day after almost drowning in a pickle vat when he was a kid. He & his brothers decided to ‘explore’ a pickle factory and, well, kids will be kids.

  3. Purple Avenger »

    31 December 2006 · 2:45 am

    Lessons learned best, hurt the most ;->

  4. Andrea Harris »

    31 December 2006 · 10:54 am

    I will never forget the day I was sitting in the emergency room, waiting to be treated for my strange, excruciating pain (that turned out to be a kidney stone), and seeing people bringing in their little tykes (some of whom were nearly driving age) with serious ailments like a bruised upper lip and a cold.

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