I told all my FB peeps that once my new author page got to a certain number of likes that I would share my favorite essay that was cut from “Ketchup is a Vegetable.” My Boos helped me reach that goal so this is their reward.
This essay was cut because it wasn’t about parenting but I love it so much. When I decided to publish it for my FB peeps, I had to dig it out of a folder and I laughed so hard I cried. At myself, but mostly at my sister.
(If you enjoy the essay, please click over and like my new author page! I’ll be giving away prizes this week!)
The problem with electronics and all things requiring more than a three-step assembly process, is that I am an idiot. I do not read directions, because I never understand them. I always seem to be missing a key piece of information or machinery which is vital for success.
My husband, on the other hand, can take a piece of chewing gum, a pipe cleaner, and other miscellaneous trash and build a bomb, a cell phone or fix your thirty-year old washing machine. It doesn’t even matter if I have read the instructions in three different languages. I am the breaker of all things and he is the fixer of all things broken. My air-conditioner in my car can blast heat straight from the pits of hell and as soon as Zeb touches the thermostat, the air will blow as cool and cold as if you were standing in front of the freezer section at the 7-11 trying to decide which flavor of Coke you want. (Because where I come from they are all Cokes, you realize?) He is my Handy Man, and I like it that way just fine.
When I was in college, and married (if you’ll recall I got married when I was thirteen which is legal in Alabama and Arkansas) there was a rapist on the loose in my college town. Nothing funny about that, my friends. My sister, my husband and I were all attending the same university, and when my Momma caught wind of the attacks on campus she went on and had herself a hissy fit worthy of Naomi Campbell. Except instead of heading to the wireless kiosk at the local mall to arm us with cell phones to hurl at assailants, Momma went to the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center’s Annual Gun Show– if I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’.
Momma bought my sister and me top of the line stun guns. Because I’m somewhat accident prone, Momma knew better than to give me an actual gun. Nope, she opted for 500,000 volts of Panther Stun Gun Power to protect her babies. (Being from Alabama I really wished they had been called something more regionally appropriate, like Mountain Lion Manglers or Bob Cat Bully Busters. But apparently, their marketing company was lacking my genius and they settled on The Panther.)
And YET, there is an eagle on the box.
Momma shipped them to us and since me and my sister, Blair, were attached at the hip we were together when they arrived at her townhouse. We called our Momma to see if she had lost her ever loving mind, and she said, “Now, I don’t want y’all to open those until Zeb is around to read the directions and teach you how to use them. I don’t want you girls to get hurt.”
I was fine with this. I’ve met me.
No one needed to convince me I would end up causing irreparable damage to myself or someone else if left with The Panther unsupervised. However, my sister, being the independent wo-man she was, was highly offended to think that she needed a man to help her put a nine-volt battery into something the size of a remote control.
“Does she think we’re stupid? I mean, COME ON! I know how to put in a battery!” Blair huffed.
“I’m not touching mine. I know myself too well– I don’t want you to have to call 911. I’m not even taking it out of the box. I NEED my man, and I’m not too proud to admit it.”
Blair sat down with her stun gun and examined the box for a few minutes.
“I mean, REALLY! How hard can this be?” She exclaimed. “I’m doing it.”
“Prolly not the best idea you’ve ever had, B…” Her evil eye silenced me.
She opened the box, leafed through the directions and removed The Panther from its handy canvas carrying case, with a convenient wrist strap… for all your stun gun needs. As I watched with bated breath, she removed the cover from the back and slipped the nine-volt battery into place.
I examined my box as I waited. There on the front of the box was The Panther Stun Gun in all its assailant-stopping splendor. It was pictured in blazing glory with a bluish-white lightning bolt of electricity flowing between the two electrodes which stuck out of its business end.
I could hear my heart thudding. I was so nervous but I knew better than to say anything else… she was a Wiley Woman with a made up mind, there was no stopping her now. The best thing I could do was to stick around and try to help when things went wrong. Blair flipped the power switch to the ON position, and pulled the trigger.
I was leaning forward on her sofa so expectantly I almost fell off and flat on my face.
But then– wait a minute. Nothing happened.
There was no crackle of electricity, no bluish-white lightning bolt.
This wasn’t good– what if she was being attacked by someone?
“Well, I’m glad I didn’t wait until somebody jumped me in a parking lot to try this stupid thing! It doesn’t even work!” She said continuing to click the trigger on and off.
“Wait! Wait… do you hear that?” Blair asked.
“That high pitched squealing sound,” she held The Panther up to her ear and continued to click it on and off and on and off.
She held it up to my ear.
“You DON’T hear that?” She asked me again.
“I don’t hear anything and I don’t see anything, B. I think it’s broken.”
“Well crap,” she said as she dropped The Panther into her lap which was clothed in only a pair of nylon Soffe running shorts. As The Panther fell into her lap, I heard a “CRACK” of electricity which I can only explain as what lightning must sound like when it connects with bare skin.
“WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGHHHHHH!” My sister let forth an ear-drum piercing, wineglass shattering, slasher-film worthy scream that raised every hair on my head.
Her eyes were wide as she looked at me… on the floor, where I landed after laughing so hard I fell off her couch and literally almost peed my pants.
“ROBIN, ROBIN!!!! I just shocked the crap out of myself!!”
She hiked up her shorts so we could examine the red marks forming where the electrodes had made contact with her skin. There were two small red dots resembling a snake bit.
I cleared my throat and said in my very best Big Sister Voice, “Momma told you to wait for Zeb.”
She gave me the Little Sister Stink Eye which she has perfected over the years and said, “If you tell our mother about this I will kill you. You know that, right?”
“I do,” I cackled as a wallowed around on the floor some more reliving the moment.
After reading the fine print we were informed that one cannot actually see the electricity discharged from the Panther Stun Gun and once you have pulled the trigger you must either:
a) Electrocute someone, preferably an assailant, or
b) Break the arc of electricity on something metal lest you electrocute your-own-self. Good to know.
I don’t know if Blair ever got her Panther out of the box again, but I had two other memorable opportunities to contemplate harnessing the Power of the Panther. One such incident occurred when I made a seriously bad judgment call and read the end of Thomas Harris’ “Red Dragon” while my husband was away on a business trip.
I spent the entire night lying in the bed with every light in my house on, holding on to the Panther under my pillow so tightly that my hand began cramping. My eyes felt like sandpaper because I refused to shut them for even a second, sure that if I closed my eyes when I opened them I would be staring into the face of a serial killer. I knew I wouldn’t stand a chance against an intruder left-handed, but at about 3:00am my right hand was aching so badly, I had to switch. I didn’t close my eyes until the sun came up.
The Panther popped his powerful head back up again when my younger brother, Bebo, came to visit my sister and I at college. He literally begged us to electrocute him– and he wasn’t even talking about us simply “breaking the arc” on him. For some unknown reason he wanted to “ride the lightning” – he wanted all 500,000 volts. Because we love him but mostly because we are still terrified of our Momma, we refused to do it. If your Momma went to gun shows for a little light shopping, you’d be scared too.