Miscellaneous musings from the perspective of a lefty (both senses) atheist with a warped sense of humor.

My Photo
Location: Madison, WI, United States

I am a geek, but I do have some redeeming social skills. I love other people's dogs, cats, and kids. Snow sucks, but I'm willing to put up with it just to live in Madison.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Stuff That Always Chokes Me Up

We had a terrible thing happen here in Madison yesterday. We've been having lots of rain -- wettest month ever in the history of the city. A young mother and her 2-year-old dotter were trying to board a bus on the north side and stepped into a puddle. Unfortunately, moments before that, lightning had hit a nearby power pole, and the 4000-volt live wire had dropped into the water. The mother and dotter were instantly zapped and fell over. A young man on the bus jumped off to help, and he too was electrocuted. The driver tried to get out to help, but the shock knocked him back onto the bus, where he had the presence of mind to close the doors to keep anyone else from making the futile effort to rescue the victims.

All 3 victims died pretty much instantly. Quick action by the bus driver kept it from becoming a horrifying chain reaction.

As I listened to this grim story on the TV news, I started to mist over, partly out of misery at the senseless loss, but partly out of admiration for my fellow human beings and their willingness to risk life and limb to help total strangers.

This got me to thinking about other things that always choke me up. I'm not really much given to heights of joy or depths of despair, being more of a thinking than a feeling kind of guy. But there are some things that always get to me. Curiously, some of them are paradigms of sadness and loss, while others are exaltations of glory, but they both seem to have the same effect -- reducing me to a blubbering, inarticulate mess.

There are the top 5 guaranteed to always choke me up:

 • The Statue of Liberty

 • The 4th Movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony

 • The last act of "Camelot"

 • Kids & books

• And the last is a story that I read years ago, so help me Freud, in "Reader's Digest". It affected me so deeply that it's almost as if it actually happened to me. I repeat it here, as best as I can, as if it HAD happened to me.

I was back in town after college, visiting the 'rents, when they invited me to join them for an open house at my old grade school, just a couple of blocks away. The clincher for me was that I'd get a chance to see my old 1st-grade teacher, Miss Johnson. After all my years of schooling, she was still my favorite teacher. I could always remember her sparkling eyes, her beautiful smile, her pleasant voice, the way she always had a kind word for everybody. She was just wonderful, and I was very much looking forward to meeting her again and telling her how much she'd always meant to me.

Of course, I expected that she'd be much older by now. She was a young woman when I was in her class, but that had been nearly 20 years ago. What I wasn't prepared for was the jolt of seeing the awful keloid scars on her face. She had obviously been very badly burned, and she was shockingly disfigured.

I stammered thru the meeting as best as I could, but it wasn't at all what I imagined it would be. As we were leaving the school, my folx remarked that I seemed a little strange. They were sure that meeting Miss Johnson would have perked me right up, and instead it seemed to have had the opposite effect.

"Yeah, I know," I said. "It was just such a shock. I mean, Miss Johnson was so beautiful, and now she's got those awful scars."

My folks stopped dead and looked at me in confusion. "Why, Dick, whatever are you talking about?", my mom asked. "Miss Johnson has ALWAYS looked like that!"

Damn, just did it to myself again.


Post a Comment

<< Home