Several years back, Kenny Rogers, a musician/singer/composer of note, wrote and performed a song entitled, “Coward Of The County”—-color me him (the coward). I have been a renowned fraidy-cat for most of my life, since way back when. The first cowardly instance I recall, was when my brother Lowell attempted to teach me to swim. I was six years old and proceeded to terrify me with the much magnified details of the drowning death of a little neighbor girl. Afterwards, there wasn’t any way, save rendering me unconscious, that he’d ever get me near any body of water larger than a bathtub.
Next, was the fear of fisticuffs (other than sibling walloping) with the school bullies. Yes, folks, sad to say; I was wimpish. Rather than stick around and take it like a man, I relied on speed. The fact that I lived just a half-block from school was a lifesaving convenience.
Let me tell you of one instance, when I opted to fight, rather than flee. Briefly, it was “Pee-the-pants” with whom I skirmished. He was one of the smallest kids in our 5th grade class, and I was soon to discover, he was also one of the most adept in the art of self defense. After a brief verbal exchange, “PTP” quickly demonstrated what fists were for.
The next hurdle was in the form of two-wheeled transportation. I was even petrified of bicycles—–especially if I imagined myself astride one. Our corner of Alaska wasn’t prime bike country, Douglas had only one paved street the rest being dirt, or, most typically, mud. Not to be deterred by mud streets, my seemingly fearless brother bought a second-hand bike for a few dollars. To me, it seemed much too daunting to learn to ride, especially after I was bucked off a time or two. Several years later, we moved to Utah, I at twelve, finally accumulated enough nerve to master bike riding
After the move, I found several new challenges facing me: First was a school initiation for incoming 7th graders. It was then, that I made myself scarce until all the hoopla had settled down, thereby avoiding the paddle and other tortures upper classmen inflicted on skinny, pre-teen bodies.
Next on the list was a fear of things equine. Horses in Alaska were seen only in the Saturday movie matinees, not lolling their heads over the neighbors corral fence. But, soon after our move, my step-dad bought an antique mare, “Blanca”. The horse knew I was terrified, for she, in just one brief ride, convinced me that I’d make a lousy cowboy, cowgirl, bronc rider or fox hunter. I’ve never attempted it again. Once was good enough for me.
Carnivals were new to me as well, and a few months after Blanca’s departure I visited a traveling carnival’s midway, and was attracted to the rides. A friend encouraged me to accompany him on the “Hammer”—-a fiendish device, no doubt invented primarily as a mechanical method of curing constipation. It worked for me—-but again, only once.
These instances kept me in a constant state of unease, since I never knew when some one would blindside me with an invitation to bike, swim, take a horseback ride, or heaven forbid, visit a carnival. No, when you’re the coward of the county, you take a dim view of anything that might make you uncomfortable, or, fearful.
By the way, would you like to hear about my most terrifying airplane trip?
I didn’t think you would.
By the way, here’s a gadget for you to identify: