Friday, June 3, 2011
Daily Dose #7 (06/04/11)
BRAIN DAMAGE AND NEWTONIAN LAWS
LAKE BOY #3
I remember the day I became aware of the concepts of physics. Actually, physics made sure to get my attention.
At the bottom of my bucolic street was a strip of beach frontage on beautiful Skaneateles Lake. The sixteen or so families that lived on Gayle Road shared the beach.
On sunny summer days, the ritual was pretty much the same for the ladies of Gayle Road. Pack a lunch for the kids, mix up a thermos full of whiskey sours, collect beach towels, beach toys, inflatable floatation devices along with cat's eye sunglasses, cigarettes and suntan oil (there was no such thing as sunscreen back then)and herd their respective broods to the beach.
We were a tight neighborhood. These were the days of "stay at home moms", and all the moms hung out together. So did all their kids.
The ladies would oil themselves down, and assume their positions in low to the ground folding chaise lounge chairs. The older kids would either go boating, or swim between the dock and the raft, flirting with each other. The wee ones would be restricted to the wading area directly in front of the "Moms", so they could keep their collective eyes on them as they sunbathed, smoked ciggies, and dished the town gossip as they got slightly buzzed while baking in the summer sunshine. A good lazy hang, that ended on schedule to get dinner ready for the hunter gatherer husbands on their way home from the rat race.
At play, I was always pretty good at keeping myself entertained. I was pretty low maintenance. So in my little three year old noggin, on this day while wading in the water, a physics experiment was hatched.
I picked up a small stone, tossed it in the air, and watched it hit the water: Then noticed the size of the splash. I then picked up a slightly larger stone, and repeated the process to see if the splash would be larger. It was, and the results of my experiment made me feel like a super genius. Eureka!!!! I just discovered gravity and a whole lot of other Newtonian Laws, all by myself.
I went to the shore and collected twenty rocks and lined them up in succession, from the smallest stone to a barely managable boulder. The experiment was an exercise in delayed gratification as well. The last toss would result in those most epic splash.
And so throughout the course of this game of my own design, I'd pick up a rock, walk out to the same spot in the water and toss it high in the air, and laugh like a baby hyena at the resultant splash.
At last I was faced with the final rock, and it was to be the grand finale: The splashiest of turbullent splashes. I picked it up with two hands, and lugged it to my throwing spot. As a hush washed over my now totally imagined audience in my head, I heaved that rock into the air with all the might I could muster, looking up into the sun to track it's descent, trajectory, and the final eruption of lake water, to be accompanied by a spontaneous sympathetic eruption of imagined cheering from a pretend stadium full of witnesses.
The rock was too big, and too heavy. I lost it in the sun, and one of the last cogent thoughts I remember from that day was asking myself, "Where's the rock?"
My bearings had given me the slip. The rock fell to earth, but instead of hitting the lake, it came down upon my "little genius" head, bashing the back of my skull in, severing an artery in the procecess while giving my brains its first ever sight of daylight.
From the front, I looked fine. From the back? Like a special effect from a b-grade horror flick.
I walked to shore to my beautiful mother, who was chatting away with her friends, a cigarrette dangling from her fingers. I tugged on her always smart and stylish bathing suit.
"Ma.... I don't feel so good"
"Wait a minute, honey...we're talking. You know it isn't polite to interrupt"
"But Ma... I REALLY don't feel too good".
I'm sure the tugging got a little more desperate at this point.
Before she could cut me off, I passed out face first in her lap, blood splattering all the sunglassed and Ban Du Soileed greased mothers out of pumping arteries, the newly opened skylight to my brain matter clearly visible to my poor Moms.
I was pretty accident prone as a kid. This was the first of four major skull fractures that I would suffer through up through the age of twelve, and all of them were self-inflicted.
I'm searching for some kind of life parable here, and having difficulty defining it
But as I reflect, I have been periodically bashing my brains in my whole life by my own hand, and my own choices, as if I'm actually seeking a form of brain damage.
Blows to the head may have manifested themselves in a very physical form in early life, but over time, those self inflicted shots resulting in head trauma have transitioned from the physical to the metaphysical.
But the end goal always be appears to the same. I'm being subconsciously compelled to force my brains to see the light of day and allowing it to be damaged in the process almost like I need it to suffer damage in order to walk through this world in relative peace.