Monday, July 13, 2009

Have Some Poison, Sis

The above title probably sounds like this ought to be in the "Sibling Rivalry" category, but actually, this does fall under the heading of "The Goofiest Thing I've Ever Done."

When I was a little kid, I was probably as close to a priss as you could get without wearing dresses and anklets all the time, or worrying about the barrettes in my hair. My big sister, who had been under the heavy influence of our two older brothers for years before I became a walking, talking kid was a tomboy. So while she found me handy for being her student while she played teacher, her patron while she played librarian, or the annoying little sidekick while she played superhero, I know I got on her nerves as well. After all, I was the baby of the family and I'm sure she felt I got the velvet gloves treatment because of it.

Our childhood home had a fantastic back yard. It was huge with lots of big trees, the better for my brother to build a treehouse (more like a platform) and hang a swinging rope from, could accommodate my dad's rose garden as well as my mother's day lilies and carnations, and still had plenty of room for us to run around like maniacs. Maniac being the definitive word.

One summer my sister, my younger cousin, and I were out in the yard after dinner. By the back fence where my brother had his tree platform and rope, there was a tangle of bushes and weeds that the grownups clipped back but basically left alone, since it was nowhere near any of the cultivated plants. One of the shrubs blossomed with purple flowers and then gave rise to beautiful red berries every year. That night, my sister dared me to eat some of them.

Now, being the priss I was, I shunned activities that might cause me to hurt myself. I was born with mile-wide streak of self-preservation. But I was also tired of being teased and mocked, and so I thought, well, fine. I'll eat them.

For being gorgeous, red, and plump, the berries were AW-FUL. They were bitter and acidic and cloying all at the same time. I couldn't even swallow them. I bit into them, gagged, and promptly spit them out again, running into the house for a drink of anything I could find to get the taste out of my mouth. Of course, my sister and cousin thought this was amazingly hilarious. I think I could taste those things for the rest of the summer.

Years later I found out I had been trying to munch on deadly nightshade. Now, I'm sure my sister meant no harm at all, daring me to eat some of it. I imagine she had no idea whatsoever that she was talking me into poisoning myself. Of course not. How silly to think that. Uh, did I ever tell you about the time that she -- never mind.


Anonymous said...

Surely your guardian angels were watching over you on that day. I know a little girl who almost died from chewing on some of the little red berries (playing doctor and pretending they were medicine.)

Iris Black said...

That was a lucky escape. One of my friends decided to chew on some leaves for a dare- and then asked if the plant was poisonous. It was- but he was lucky too. (I still can't believe it, he was 15 at the time!?!)

At least there's some humor in these tales...


Pam Ripling said...

OMG! You coulda died! I remember being dared to eat pyracantha berries once. I was too chicken. I'm still a wuss when it comes to eating things that don't come from the market. Which almost made me lose out on some very delicious blueberries once...


Norm Cowie said...

Surprised they didn't try a hemlock salad on you with black widow croutons.