Oh, woe is me. Being sick stinks. I am tired of having throbbing sinuses, a clogged nose and a throat that feels like it’s been sandpapered. Bleah. I took a hike with “Uncle Fred” and the family to get some fresh air, hoping that might clear my mind of antihistamine fog. It didn’t really work too well, since my nasal passages are on strike. I looked like a fish out of water, gasping fresh air loudly through my open mouth.
I pondered upon topics to write about during our trek; nothing came to mind until we came upon an unusual tree beside the woodchip padded trail. The trunk was blistered with huge galls that synthesized in a ladder-perfect pattern. I called my daughter over to the tree and told her with enthusiasm that this was the best climbing tree ever—to which she promptly replied, “I don’t wanna.” The tomboy in me was flabbergasted. This tree simply oozed the desire to be climbed. We owed it to the tree to scale its mesmerizing goiters! So, my husband used the tried and true weapon against resistant toddlers everywhere; reverse psychology. “Oh, that’s okay, you’re too little to climb it anyway,” was the only comment required to lure her to the tree’s base. She stood defiantly in front of the lowest lump and with a hoist from mommy, scrambled up to a modest height. She’ll be on to our shenanigans in the near future, I thought to myself. We won’t be able to elicit such a rapid response by telling her she can’t do something. Kids figure that one out pretty quickly, I mused. Everyone but me, that is…
Flash back to the days of art school; I was in my mid-twenties when I threw aside my zookeeper’s boots and took up an artist’s brush. (I came to the conclusion that drawing primates would be much more fun than cleaning up after them.) I quickly settled in and cherished both the challenges of art school and a new group of friends. One of my new buddies was Henry, a cutie with brains and a great sense of humor. He had long blondish brown hair, sparkling blue eyes behind schoolboy glasses, and no bellybutton. Seriously. We would marvel at his navel-less stomach when he took off his shirt to play hackey-sack with us on hot summer days.
I can’t blame Henry for what I did; after all, he told me not to do it. It all started when we were the sole occupants of the photography room, waiting for the others to arrive and class to begin. I absentmindedly tossed my camera flash from one hand to the other, tapping the strobe button every now and then. “The only thing I know about flashes,” Henry said, “is that you don’t ever want to put one in your mouth.” “What?” I asked, perplexed. “Don’t ever set a flash off in your mouth,” he said again, “red lasers will shoot out of your eyes.” “Yeah right.” I scoffed, just before popping the flash head into my mouth and repeatedly depressing the strobe. “Stop!” “Stop!” Henry laughed and yelled at the same time. “I’m serious!” “Vickie, oh my God, Stop!!” I took the flash out of my mouth and gave him an irritated, “What?!” as he looked at me incredulously. “I swear to God, Vickie, red beams of light shot out of your eyes every time you hit the flash! Your eyes are going to hurt really bad—mine looked bloodshot after I did that,” Henry reprimanded. As the rest of the class slowly filtered in, Henry related the story over and over. Classmates worriedly came over to peer in my eyes, which were indeed, beginning to burn a little bit. I excused myself to go to the restroom, where I faced the mirror image of a poster girl for Visine. Thready blood vessels gave the whites of my eyes a cotton candy pink hue. Henry had been telling the truth.
It took several days for my eyes to lose their rosy tint; thankfully I didn’t damage my eyes or impair my vision. Henry and I acknowledged the powerful allure of the warning, “Don’t put a flash in your mouth.” Terribly true, yet terribly difficult to believe. He had succumbed when warned not to do so, and I in turn had fallen victim to the bewitching caveat. Human nature compels us to desire things too good to be true, and to deny things too bad to be false. Which leaves me with an awkward ending to my saga; I feel compelled to warn you about the dangers of oral flash experimentation. But I can’t, you see…you may have already headed to the closet where your camera bag is stored, you may be rummaging for the flash at this very moment…reverse psychology rears its ugly head.