Matter of Laugh or Death
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
THUNDERSTORM SEASON ONCE AGAIN
I have to admit, I think lightning and thunderstorms can be fun. I try not to be reckless when it comes to lightning, of course. I am fully aware just how powerful and unpredictable it can be.
Fortunately, lightning and myself have reached something of a mutual understanding. I have agreed not to play golf, fly kites, or prance through an open field carrying a metal flag pole when it rains, and lightning has promised to refrain from blasting through my bedroom window any time soon and vaporizing all the water in my waterbed—and me on it.
We had quite a storm roll through these parts about 3 a.m. last night. As a rule, I don’t particularly enjoy being awakened in the middle of the night, but as long as I can stay under the covers and then fall back to sleep for a few more hours I won’t complain too much.
There is nothing quite so spectacular as being in the safety of a warm, dry house and watching the room burst with flashes of light while the walls rumble. Sometimes if a storm hits in the evening, I’ll switch off all the lights, turn the couch toward the picture window, and sit with my children “oohing and ahhing” as if it were a fireworks display. It’s much less of a hassle and a lot cheaper than driving to an amusement park, although my kids are never very pleased when I give them soggy saltines and say, “C’mon, pretend it’s cotton candy.”
I suppose one of the major reasons I enjoy lightning is that I’ve never had any bad experience with it. I understand that once you’ve had your TV blown up or your roof set afire or your own personal flesh undergo a 50,000 volt how-do-you-do, it can be difficult to combine the words “fun” and “lightning” in the same sentence.
I have a close relative who was once zapped by lightning. It wouldn’t be fair to come right out and name him or her as I’m sure he or she would not be thrilled to have a very traumatic experience explored in print—especially by me. So let’s just say it was not my sister, but instead was actually, um, my second cousin Ralph. Yeah, that’s it, good ol’ Ralph.
Anyway, Ralph was playing third base on his women’s softball team a number of years ago. In the middle of a game some dark clouds came rolling in. It hadn’t started to rain yet, but just as it appeared the skies might open up in a downpour, KA-RAACCKK!! a bolt of lightning hit a tree directly behind the team’s bench.
Ralph and five other women were sitting on the bench at the time, and tentacles of electricity shot out and hit each of them in the…let’s see, how can I phrase this, in the sliding pad region of their uniforms. They were all flung about ten yards onto the field, giving new meaning to the expression “lightning quick reflexes at the hot corner.” (And also giving new meaning to their coach’s constant lament, “What do I have to do to light a fire under your butts?!”)
None of them were seriously injured, although they all did an inordinate amount of standing over the next few weeks.
To this day my sis—, er, I mean, my second cousin Ralph becomes very concerned, even on a sunny day, whenever any white puffy cloud turns a faint shade of gray. By “very concerned,” I mean he sprints into the house, races down to the basement rec room, and dives under the couch. It was kind of comical to watch Ralph try to do this a few years ago when he was pregnant and no longer able to fit under the couch.
I suppose this kind of behavior is understandable after going though such a traumatic ordeal. It’s a lot like the people who are on an airliner which crashes, killing all aboard. Not surprisingly, statistics show that very few of them ever choose to fly again.
With my luck, by the time you read this I’ll probably have been zapped. I never did feel all that comfortable making a promise with something as fickle as lightning. (Although it’s certainly not as bad as trusting the campaign promises of politicians.)
I can just hear Ralph now. “Serves you right for making fun of such a serious subject. Let’s see how you like standing for three weeks straight.” I can handle standing for a while, I guess, just as long as Ralph leaves some room for me under the couch.
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