It was the summer of 1980 and my family and I had the wonderful privilege of living in the country. Life in the country can be carefree for a kid. Summer days are spent getting muddy, exploring nature, and having picnic lunches. It was on such a day that my brother had a memorable, electrifying experience.
My brother was always the court jester of the family. He didn't wear those funny hats or jingle-bell shoes, but he was always up to some trick and sometimes succeeded at getting the best of us. I remember the time he casually meandered into the kitchen. "Hey Sis, Mom wants you to fix her a glass of iced-tea," he said.
"What happened? I just made her a glass of tea," I said.
"One of the chickens knocked it over and it broke," he answered.
"I'm never going to get my chores done," I sighed as I jerked open the refrigerator and grabbed the pitcher of ice tea. My brother just stood there.
"Ugh! This is irritating," I said as I reached for a new glass and filled it with tea. "Here!" I said, shoving the glass at my brother.
"Where's the Equal?" he asked.
"What do ya mean? Mom doesn't sweeten her tea."
"I don't know. She just said she wanted some."
"Give me the glass!" I demanded and grudgingly stirred in a packet of Equal and returned it to him.
He gave me a menacing smile and took a nice long gulp of the freshly made tea. "Aaah," he sighed. "Thanks."
"Oh, you are so irritating!" I yelped and wondered how I fell for something so stupid.
It wasn't often, but occasionally my brother's antics would backfire. The best backfire happened on a warm summer day. My brother and sister were out enjoying the country life. They had been all over that day building forts, chasing chickens, and finding dusty treasures in the barn.
Eventually they became Amazon explorers and headed off through the dense growth to conquer new horizons. They trudged through the trees, following the creek that ran through the property. The sun flickered through the leaves and cast sparkles across the muddy waters. Occasional crawdads dashed under rocks to avoid the prodding of sticks. Soon, the two explorers reached the end of the trail. An electric fence stood between them and their continued quest.
It was at this moment that Michael felt the call of nature. He knew that it would take entirely too long to reach the pink tiled bathroom in time. Being the boy that he was, he didn't view this as a dilemma, but rather a golden opportunity. His eye got that familiar gleam as he imagined my sister's disgusted response to his plan. No longer would he ignore the call, but first he needed a target. It would put a glorious finish to his plan. He spied the electric fence and took aim having confidence that he couldn't miss. He had plenty of practice over the years: Cheerios in the toilet, ant hills, and writing his name in yellow across frozen snow. What was one little ol' wire compared to all of that?
His aim was sure and he didn't miss. "Aaaaaaaaaaggggghhhh!" he screeched. Now that was something he hadn't expected; a science lesson in the middle of summer! Liquid does conduct electricity.
My sister doubled over; clutching her sides in breathless laughter. Tears rolled down her face. What joy to see the family court jester finally getting what he had coming to him.
Fortunately the only damage done was to his ego, but that didn't last long. The next day he was back to his old shenanigans, but we all still remember that fateful day when he got the zap of his life. We relive it at family gatherings relishing in the laughter that he left stamped on our hearts.
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