Friday, May 1, 2009

Dancing Electric Men

With five children all one year apart, the noise level in my home was intense, especially in the winter time.  Mami already sick and tired of all the bickering and noise would send us upstairs to play in our room.  Upstairs was the bedroom that my sisters and I shared. We were always running up and down the stairs screaming, so Mami would yell for us to “Stop It!” and made us “stay put up there” for a while.

It was a beautiful sunny day and the light shown in our windows and streamed across the floor. Four weeks earlier, for my Christmas/ Birthday I had received a toy grand piano, that I loved. It was actually a step above a regular toy because it was a replica of the real thing and sounded beautiful. It was the first thing that was officially mine. My parents proclaimed that I did not have to share this particular gift with my four siblings. 

Like everything else we owned, it was broken just after a few days. Toys didn’t last long with five children all claiming possession or wanting a turn. Soon we would be fighting over the toy or it broke due to the stress of overuse. I was sure that my piano would last much longer, because it was mine, all mine.

But alas, life has a way of giving you the norm, and it was broken two days later. Not by us, but by outsiders, two obnoxious boys visiting the day after Christmas. Obnoxious Boy #1 pulled off a key and then another. Obnoxious Boy #2 yanked a string out from inside the piano. Although I was allowed to withhold my piano from my siblings, I was expected to share it with guests, no matter how obnoxious or destructive. I cried and cried. It was the first thing that I felt was truly mine and represented the concert pianist I might some day become, but my dreams and my piano were destroyed. I had it whole for only one day. What a cruel world.  And like a pack of dingoes smelling blood, the piano was brought down and picked apart by New Years Eve.

We were playing on the floor when Sister After Me and I found one of the piano’s metal bars that strike the piano strings. It still had a bit of piano wire attached to it.  After fiddling with it for a while, we used it to poke into the floor, between the floorboards, and then poke it into the knotholes of the pine boards along the wall. Running out of holes, we looked along the wall and found some intriguing new holes to poke, the electrical plug. And do you know what, an amazing thing happened.

Now, what I am about to share with you, you must keep to yourself. Be warned, it may result in a desire to find your own holes to thrust metallic objects into, but refrain. Remember how your mom would react if she saw you acting so foolishly. Mom would freak. This falls under the category of, “Please, do not attempt this on your own. It is very dangerous and can result in fire or death.  Please, leave it to the professionals,” or perhaps in our case to children under seven.

We discovered that if you poke piano wire into the electrical socket that dancing electric men would tumble out onto the floor.  Amazing, fantastic!  “They’re little flaming men, and they are dancing!” When it happened we looked at each other in awe and joy. 

We discovered a new world, a new race of people living within our walls. Excitedly we shoved the wire into the socket again and at least a dozen little glowing electric men, five pointed, a beautiful bright white much like the color of lightning, came tumbling out running after us across the floor.

The five-pointed star was made of a flickering head, two waving arms, and two waving legs and they were fast, dancing and chasing after us, sometimes rolling like tumble weeds.  It was the coolest sight ever.

Whoa, come back! Remember, you’re a responsible adult, possibly a parent and role model. Plus the guardian angel that used to work so hard following you around when you were a kid is probably napping or dead from boredom, because really, when was the last time you did anything so perilous?

Sister After Me and I took turns poking because we disliked the way our hands buzzed and went numb when the wire was shoved into the socket, so we started shoving it in quickly and letting go right away. We would scream in delight as we ran for the bed in the middle of the room and jumped on it before the little men could catch us, some of them dashing right under the bed.  Our game became a frenzy of laughing, screaming, running and jumping on the bed.  

Youngest Sister, who was three, was too small to climb up safely on her own, so we would grab her and pull her up onto the bed. Since she was the slowest, it would only be a matter of time before the electric dancing men would catch her. A delicious little thought we shared with her. But then she would cry if we let them “get her” and Mami would surely call up to see what was the matter.

Sometimes only a few men would come out and other times they would cascade out of the socket in huge numbers as though a platoon were sent out to defend their electrified world.  Over and over we ran for our lives as the little glowing men ran swiftly across the floor, and then dissipate.  The game was over when Mami called to come downstairs for dinner.

The next day we tried to coax the little dancing electric men out from the now slightly blackened wall socket, but they wouldn’t come out and play.  We were very disappointed that they had left.  Would we ever see them again?  But we soon forgot about them and went on to play something else. For some reason, that wall socket never worked again.

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