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Friday, July 8, 2016

Bee in Shirt, Tongue on Banister.

At Saint Columba School, on one fine, spring day early in my school years, a boy, call him Frank, panicked when a bee got inside his shirt. If the bee ever stung him the pain could not have been worse than the pain of fear that caused him to dance, twirl, and yell in panic as soon as the bee got beneath his shirt. A nun came. Tears cascaded. Shirt opened. Shirt closed. It was over.

. . .

One way-below-zero-degrees winter day during recess, a boy put his tongue on the metal banister, the railing, of the main stairway leading from the playground into the school. I've always assumed he was dared by others to do so. I suppose it may have been he who had bragged that he could do so and suffer not the trauma about which he had been told. One did not have to be very old in Minnesota to have been warned in a tantalizing way against putting one's tongue on a pump handle or any other piece of frigid metal.

Looking from the boys' playground across the girls' playground I saw nuns pour hot water on the stair railing around the head of the almost motionless boy. The drama must have started just as recess began and his class filed out of the school because the stairway ended in the girls-only part of the playground. I could get no closer until recess ended. I cringed, looked away and went to play. At the end of recess I walked up those stairs with my classmates. (That tells me I was likely in third or second grade—years when my classroom was close to those stairs. The boy, whom I did not know was younger, likely in the first or second grade). As we walked up the stairs we all saw the shiny spot on the railing where the hot water had been poured before it froze. Still I cringe. In the middle of that shiny black section of railing pipe we saw the glob of flesh from the boys tongue.

Here my memory ends. I do wonder how much, how long and in what ways that boy, that man, suffered from his moment of youthful foolishness.

(c) from date of posting, by Bob Komives, Fort Collins 

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