Once Bitten, Twice Shy

George Will is an old guy who has been a columnist for at least two hundred years. He is an excellent example of an elitist, and I find myself disagreeing with him on a regular basis, a fact which doesn’t seem to perturb him in the slightest. But one of his latest columns is about medical aid in dying, and who knew? We are in complete agreement.

I forgot to mention that he writes much better than I do, and is an honest-to-god intellectual, while I tend to lean heavily toward being an emotional. So in this case I will let him do the talking for me. I will only say that according to polls, most Americans are way out in favor of MAID, and we are waiting for those who make the laws to get with the program. It is way past time.


From The New Yorker


Classroom Dialogue

Mrs. Smitz?

Yes, Shirley.

Yesterday the President said a bad word

Yes, he did, but he said it to himself. It was an accident that we heard it

If I say a bad word my parents make me go to my room. Did the President have to do that?

I believe that he did, Shirley

Who tells him to go to his room?

His wife does.

He called a man the bad word.

Yes, he did.

Why did he do that?

Because the man is an ignorant peckerwood

What is a peckerwood?

Pretty much the same as a sonofabitch.


Now you said the bad word, Mrs. Smitz.

Go ‘way, kid, you’re starting to bother me.


A Dick Guindon cartoon


Whenever I think back on the days when I lived in Minnesota, it is always green. The sun is shining on a lake and I am bobbing happily in a small boat doing a reasonable imitation of someone fishing. Or it is a warm summer night and I am looking across a bay in the Boundary Waters at the moon and its reflection in the water which magically always leads straight to me.

Talking with family this week who live there, where they were bundled up against one of those drawn-out below zero sessions that Momma Nature schedules way too often in that state, I realized that I must be suffering from PFSD and have stuffed those bad memories way down behind the furnace in the basement of my psyche. What is PFSD, you ask … why, that’s Post Frostbite Stress Disorder.

It happened like this.

My first real job was in a grocery store in a strip mall located a mile and a half from our home. I was sixteen that winter and still afoot, ownership of my first car being a few months away and after I had amassed enough to make a down payment by saving my salary of 75 cents an hour.

It was January, it was five a.m., it was fifteen below zero with a light breeze. I headed out to go to work and only noticed that I was a bit colder on my windward side. Until I reached the store, that is, and found that my left ear was corpse-white, without feeling, and the consistency of a hockey puck. That lack of feeling lasted only until it began to thaw out and throb.

But on that special day it was not the pain that bothered me nearly as much as when the ear began to swell, eventually achieving the appearance and size of a bright red catcher’s mitt. Later that afternoon the blisters began to develop and this now hideous thing on the side of my head drew way more attention than a shy Minnesota boy really wanted.

Fortunately the ear did not turn black and fall off, and a week later looked almost normal. But the memory lives on, and from that Saturday morning forward, I have tried never to leave the house in the North country in wintertime without swathing my ears in fleece or muffs or a scarf wrapped ’round them.

And on any day like the one described, it is the very dickens to get me to go outdoors at all unless I am dragged forcibly, clutching at anything I can and leaving fingernail gouges on the doorway behind me to mark my passage.


2 thoughts on “Once Bitten, Twice Shy

    • Yes you have. As I recall you were taking us for a short walk that turned into a epic survival trek against a 30 mph wind and on a 20 below zero day.
      I did dress up like a babushka and was forced to beg passers-by for anything warm just to keep alive.


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