CONFESSIONS OF A NERDLING - PART 5
You know how when you're a kid you'll hear a portion of a truth (or maybe not even a portion) and consider it the WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH? Kind of like if you drink water from a bathroom faucet, some of the pee might actually get into the faucet, so NEVER drink water from that room. (It took years before I dared risk it.)
Or then there's this one: Once, while sitting in the elementary lunch room, one of my friends told me that someone opened a pint-sized milk jar (back then, we had little glass bottles with lids we had to peel off) and found a dead mouse at the bottom. From that day forward I refused to take milk for lunch. I brought a thermos from home every day! No way would I put myself through the torture of finding a dead rodent in the bottom of my milk bottle.
Oh, and the old adage that swallowing watermelon seeds will actually cause you to grow a giant watermelon in your fertile belly. This one I more doubted than believed (I wasn't entirely stupid), but it didn't stop me from standing in front of my mother's big mirror every now and then to check my belly for a mysterious bulge.
I also heard that while riding in a car in a thunderstorm, if lightning should strike your car you'd be safe because of the rubber tires. (Is this true by the way? Willie would know.) You know, rubber is not a conductor of electricity. Soooo...
One afternoon, Cindy and I set out for our mile walk from school when dark, wearisome clouds started gathering. In the distance, the sky lit with a jagged flash of lightning followed by a low rumble of thunder. Another soon followed, and then another. With every second, the storm drew nearer.
Cindy could be quite the crybaby. It was often my job to ease her fears. Today was no exception. "We're going to die!" she wailed.
"No, we're not. Look. There’s an old tire over in that guy's yard." We always passed junky little houses on our walk home, houses with yards cluttered with dead cars, rusted wash machines, old refrigerators, pieces of sink parts, old tools, you name it. My brothers often stopped and sorted through stuff, looking for "treasures". I considered the tire a treasure. After all, it could save our lives. I ran to get it.
Standing the heavy, dirty thing upright, I rolled it out of the yard. It never occurred to me I might be stealing it since it did have a big slice across its middle. It still rolled, though, which was the important thing.
"Look, Cindy, we're safe now. We have our very own tire. No lightning can get us now, 'cause lightning won't touch rubber. I learned that from Mrs. Saxton. (She was my very smart, very old fourth grade teacher with the strange odor.)
That brought a smile to her face and a quick sigh of relief. I felt proud.
All the way home we let the drenching rain soak through to our skin, while bolts of lightning pointed their sharp fingers straight at us, and the thunder rumbled through our bones.
We did not care. We had our rubber tire between us, which we both kept a hand on, as we rolled it up the street toward home.