humor · mental health

Weird Science

Tomorrow is going to be rough with Hurricane Ida. I am still traumatized from a tree hitting us during Hurricane Laura, but I’m trying to stay busy and not think about it. I need to control my anxiety long enough to contribute toward the work effort. We spent all morning buying gas, food, and water. The generator is ready to go. All that’s left is house work and waiting.

If writing about a few fond memories can help me through it, then here we go.

I was one of those kids who took things apart to see how they worked. I never understood what I saw, but felt smart even as I thought, “It’s just a bunch of wires, I don’t know what this crap is.

When my radio stopped working, I took it apart for fun. When I put it back together, it worked again. It was the 90’s version of a “turning it off and back on again” reset. Or magic I hadn’t learned to control yet.

Tv taught me loners were usually the ones that developed powers. If anyone were going to be a mutant or a witch, it had to be me. When I failed to develop my magic, I settled for taking other things apart.

The toaster ended my career. Just because I took one thing apart that wouldn’t go back together, I wasn’t allowed to do it anymore. I didn’t mind risking my own things occasionally, but the days of raiding the house were over.

I found other ways to occupy my time, but without Google, I was restricted to my own imagination. One of my favorite experiments happened on accident. I call it The Chocolate Milk Experiment.

It was one of these that made it all possible.

One day, I drank half a bottle and forgot about it. By time I came across it, the expiration date was weeks passed. Curious, I opened the bottle. It was indeed the source of the smell Mom was complaining about. More curious, I noted it seemed to be getting chunky.

This was interesting. I wondered what it would look like after a few more weeks. I had a horrible scare one day, coming home from school to find it missing. I found it in the trash can! Mom assumed it was trash! The audacity!

I had to dig it out myself. I’m lucky she didn’t pour it out. I had to throw a tantrum and agree to keep it in my closet before she left it alone. I stayed well supplied in air freshener to avoid future problems. Dad wasn’t pleased with my experiment either.

He wanted to know “Why?”

“I want to see what happens.” Is not what he considered a reason. I respectfully disagreed.

Within a few weeks, something fascinating happened. The liquid and chunks separated.

Separated as neatly as whatever this is. It’s a tragedy I couldn’t document the real thing.

Oh! What a grand time I was having! I was no longer satisfied with waiting. I wanted to see things happen now. The real question was, what do I try next?

I wanted to know what would happen if someone drank it, but there was no way to make that happen.

The best I could come up with was to put a few color pencils inside. I chose some bright colors, closed it up, and played Xbox for a few hours.

When I checked it before bed, the liquid had colors swirling around in it. When I lifted one of the pencils, the point was gone. It looked like it melted into the liquid. I was giddy, there’s no other word for it.

Now this was really a science experiment. I wasn’t playing pretend anymore. I had actually done something. I caused a reaction between two things. I had no idea what words belonged to the reaction, but it looked cool AF.

If the colors were dissolving this fast, I couldn’t wait to see what it looked like after a few days.

This is a good time to mention I’m also A.D.D. I will become completely engrossed in something and randomly forget it exists. Something else stole my attention from The Chocolate Milk in those few days, and I wouldn’t check it again for over a month.

It was no longer chocolate. It was a dirty, chunky rainbow. The color pencils were almost gone. All that remained were few pieces of wood that looked like they went through a shredder.

In my excitement I got sloppy. I forgot to spray air freshener and stay in my closet. Mom was raining on my parade before I could decide what to put in there next. I was leaning toward pouring in fresh milk and maybe raid the pantry for ideas.

Mom had enough. She bought me the new Pokémon game and the special edition game guide. I surrendered my baby and dove into my next addiction head first.

My other favorite is a social experiment. In Interlude, I explained my 8th grade “Real Shawn” friend. It’s time to introduce her now. I’m gonna call her Thelma because if you have seen Thelma & Louise it is just scary accurate.

Seriously, this is a classic.

First thing you should know about Thelma, she was home-schooled until 8th grade. She grew up in an extremely religious family. Some of them are preachers, it’s a huge deal to them. She wasn’t ready to be thrown to the wolves.

Her first day of school, she brought a box of student bibles to hand out. As a way to make friends. Needless to say, I hated her. How we became friends is a fantastic story but it’s not one we’re discussing today.

Today, we discuss my favorite social experiment. I call it Peer Pressure. It takes place during the 2nd semester of 8th grade after Thelma learned to calm the fuck down.

Altoids were just becoming popular. Kids loved to save the tin to keep their weed in. One day, during first period, I emptied my remaining Altoids (I hate mints, but needed to fit in) on my desk and start crushing.

This is it, I’m pretty sure they’re still around.

As I’m crushing them all into a fine, white powder, the teacher comes to stand over me. “Whatcha doing there, Kid?”

“I want to crush these up, and see if I can convince Thelma to snort them.” I never look up from my task.

“Alright!” He gives me an approving slap on the back. “Let me know how it goes.”

That day everyone sat in their usual places during break. I touched a dab of white powder to my nostril and sat across from Thelma. It didn’t take long.

“What’s on your nose?”

“Oh! Gosh, thanks. It’s cocaine. Do you want some?”

Her eyes got so big. “No way! You’re messing with me…” she was unsure.

“Psh, no I’m not, look.” I slid the tin across to her.

She opened it under the table and snapped it shut. “No way, no way, no way.”

“You want some?” I offered again. The other girl was in first period with me. She wanted to see her snort it too, and helped pile on the peer pressure.

This whole joke seemed as innocent to me as the gum that turns your teeth black. It never felt like she would really snort Altoid powder until she actually snorted it.

Somehow, we had a tin of white powder sitting in the middle of our table in the cafeteria with teachers all around us, and not one person saw us.

I openly spread a line on the table, rolled up a dollar bill, and watched her snort the powder up in two tries. Her eyes watered, she said it burned like hell, but was otherwise great.

I felt bad for how long it burned and decided we could never tell her the truth. She spent that day with a hypochondriac high, and when she wanted more I told her I was out. Thankfully she didn’t do anything too crazy while she was under the influence.

I’m not sure how long it was before I told her the truth. At least a few years; definitely after the Wet Willy Incident. She was a little angry at first but overall a good sport. She’s done plenty of horrible jokes to me.

Back then, when we had a long way to drive, she would make me drive her truck while she and her boyfriend had sex in the back.

One of these times, after they were finished, her boyfriend gave me a wet willy. Not having my license at that time, I was too paranoid to take my eyes off the road or think about it.

After we made it back to the boyfriend’s truck, he informed me the wet willy wasn’t spit. Now that he was safely locked in his truck, he was brave enough to say it.

Ahh good times, good times. Well this really has made me feel better. I’m not sure if it’ll last very long after I’m back to cleaning, but it was something.

The major downside to imaginary friends: If the hurricane destroys my house, none of them are going to take me in.

Everyone stay safe out there.

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