When I was a kid, if I ever got a cut on my foot or on my hand, my mom would make me soak it in hot, hot, HOT water with Epsom Salts for an hour a night for week. That shit would sting like the dickens! She never made me do this when I got cuts on my arms or legs…only when they were on my feet or hands. She would insist that if I didn’t do this, my “wound” would get a red ring around it. I was told that this red ring would become a red line that would follow a vein back to my heart and if I didn’t stop the progress of this red line…if that red line succeeded in making it all the way to my heart, my heart would EXPLODE!!! Man, I hated the Epsom Salts.

In a separate issue, I was warned about the possibility of getting rabies if I were to ever touch any kind of dead animal. And, if I got rabies, the ONLY way to cure it would to get 15 shots RIGHT IN THE BELLY BUTTON with a needle that was about the width of a pencil. That put the fear of God into me. I absolutely HATE any kind of contact with my belly button. Even watching those Pillsbury commercials, I would cringe when one of the commercial people poked the Doughboy in his belly. Just the thought of someone jabbing a spear into my belly button was enough to ensure I didn’t touch anything that was dead.

And I needed to be aware of my surroundings when I was playing, because if I were to ever step on a rusty nail or anything like that, not only would I get the Epsom Salt treatment…I could also get lockjaw and end up starving to death.

Along with these medical catastrophe warnings that were designed to modify my behavior through fear, there were always the things that “couldn’t be done.” Did your parents ever tell you that you couldn’t do something…for no other reason than it simply couldn’t be done? I’m not talking about things that had a consequence, such as “You can’t drink a gallon of Drano expect to live to tell about it.” That makes perfect sense. I’m talking more about things that are supposed to be “impossible.”

I know I didn’t explain that very well, so I’m just going to have to use an example. Let’s choose…oh, I don’t know…going to a wedding. I would want to wear gym shoes. My mom would say, “You can’t wear gym shoes to the wedding.”

“Why not?”

“You just can’t.”

Now, it’s important for you to realize that she was NOT telling me this in a “I’m-not-permitting-you” way. This had all the definite inflection and tone of a “It’s-a-matter-of-fact-and-I-can’t-believe-you-would-ever-think-such-a-thing-was-possible.” Kinda like “You can’t teleport to Rome……teleportation doesn’t exist.”

When I was younger (like 8 or 9), I just accepted it. “Oh, you can’t wear gym shoes to a wedding? Ok, then.”

It really confused me when, at the wedding, I saw plenty of people in jeans and gym shoes. They still looked nice, with a collard shirt and all, but they weren’t in dress shoes or slacks.

When I got older, I started asking her questions.

“You can’t wear gym shoes to a wedding.”

“What do you mean I can’t? What will happen?”

“You just can’t do it.” Again, it was with the tone of something like, “You can’t teleport.”

“Why not? Will my feet melt off my body? Is there some sort of force field keeping out those people who wear gym shoes? Why can’t I?”

“You just can’t.”

Eventually, I learned that this type of thing meant, “It’s just not right or socially acceptable. I don’t agree with it. Although people do it, I would prefer that you, my son, did not,” although I don’t understand why she never just came right out and said this.

I briefly doubted my epiphany on this matter once when, amid my mom’s declarations of “You can’t do that,” I went outside in winter without a coat. The look on her face seemed to say, “What…what is this magic that allows you to do this?” That really threw me for a loop for quite a while but, as I got older still, I figured out that look was her realizing that I was taking control of my own life and testing boundaries. When I remember that look today, I see it as her realization that she was not going to protect me forever and I would make mistakes in my life that she was going to be powerless to prevent.


OK. So, on the other day I took a small break from work and went to the Family Dollar store that’s close by and got myself a Coke and a box of Bite Size Frosted Mini-Wheats. When I got up to the line, I saw that only one register was open and it was backed up. Apparently, Family Dollar was THE place to be on that afternoon. Anyway, about 6 people back from the register, there was a display case of some sort, which would obviously cause the line to have to bend in one direction (or the other) and any new member of the line would then have to approach it from the side.

Well, there was a little girl…I’ll say about 6 or so…standing with a cart full of things. She may have been in line (because she was coming from the side) or she may not have been (because the space between her and the person who was DEFINITELY in line seemed to be right on the cusp of that imaginary demarcation line that would make the answer obvious). I didn’t see a parent with her so I figured I’d just go ahead and ask this little girl if she was in line. After all, I wouldn’t want to cut in front of her if she was.

So I asked her, “Are you standing in line?”

She looked at me like a deer caught in headlights. “Huh?”

So I asked again. “Are you in this line or are you just standing here waiting for your mom or dad?”

She just stared at me.

I said, “This is what I’m going to do, OK? I’m going to stand here (taking the place behind the last, obvious person in line) and if it turns out you ARE in line, I’ll let you and you go in front of me.”

And that’s when this happened:


Everybody stopped what they were doing to see what was going on.

This woman came running up and put herself between me and the little girl. “WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO?”

“I’m sorry, was this your place in line?”


“I was just trying—“


“—figure out if she was in line or not.”

“YEAH ,RIGHT!” She took the girl’s hand and started pushing the cart away and down one of the aisles. “OUGHTA CALL THE DAMN COPS ON YOUR ASS, TRYING TO WHATEVER WITH MY LITTLE GIRL!”

And then, in a gesture that I’m constantly amazed at, the people in line offered to let me go in front of all of them since I only had 2 things. The person who was next to me in line offered his support by saying that he knew I wasn’t doing anything wrong and that the woman was overreacting. I gave the cashier (who sees me often, as Coke and Mini-Wheats are my standard purchases a couple of times a week) my business card with instructions to give it to the police in case the woman decided to “call the damn cops.” I think I’m in the clear, since I haven’t heard anything.

BUT, it does bring up an odd issue: pedophilia and the hysteria surrounding it.

I’m going to ask you to go here and read the article.

Done? Good. I’m going to come right out and say that I would probably have done what Mr. Peachey did. In fact, I’m SURE that I’d have done what Mr. Peachey did, because I have. Twice in the last year. Both times had to do with witnessing a kid have a bike wreck. The first time, my wife was in the van with me. We saw a girl fall off her bike. It looked spectacular, but the girl sat up and was holding her knee. I drove on by, and only stopped at the behest of my wife, who made be back up so she could see if she was OK. And she was, just had a scrape on her knee. The second time was pretty much identical. A kid fell off his bike. Again, it was pretty spectacular looking. But I drove on by.

Should I have stopped? Probably, yes. It would have been the decent thing to do. But I didn’t. It’s not an action I’m proud of. And, unless I know the child, I most likely would behave the same way in the future. Other personal instances, which you can read about in my March 19th 2009 note, and news stories like THIS and THIS and THIS and THIS are what make it very easy for me to understand WHY Mr Peachey did what he did.