Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Don't Call Me Sparky

The lightening storm we had on Thursday night reminded me of a strange close call I once had when I was eleven or twelve years old.

First, let me mention that I was born during a thunderstorm. There was a long New Jersey heat wave going on, and when I was born there was a thunderstorm and that brought cooler weather. Thunderstorms happen in New Jersey when ever the weather changes during the summer. I just like the fact that I was born during one of those times.

Anyway, in the late evening of my eleventh or twelfth birthday I returned to the kitchen for another piece of my birthday cake. The house I lived in had a narrow kitchen with a table that could seat three. I sat alone in my usual spot with my back to the window, facing the wall. Directly across from me on the wall I was facing there was an electrical outlet.

A storm was brewing outside and when I took a bite of cake a bolt of lightening struck outside. Oddly two fingers of lightening cane in through the window, went around my head, joined up as one about a foot in front of my face and went into the electrical outlet. It didn’t even trip the circuit breaker.

One might expect to be frightened or at least have their hair stand on end, but I just thought it was really cool and went back to eating my cake, but never forgetting the incident. Had I been grounded I would have been hit.


Blogger Auntie said...

This explains so much, Guy.

I love lightening and thunder and wish we had more around here like there is inland during most summer nights.

Born during a thunderstorm...why does that sound familiar?...

6:09 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

And, thus, you are a marked man - in a strange, mysterious, special sort of way.
(Trust a kid to simply continue eating cake...)

6:18 AM  
Anonymous walter richards said...

Ohhhh, lightning stories!


At one point of travelling with my family, we were staying with relatives on the plains. Kansas or Nebraska, I don't remember. It was a true "one horse" town, and the horse WAS tied to the railing outside the post office. The town consisted of a 4-way stop, with each corner occupied by one building. A general store, a post office, a tavern/hotel, and a house.

Anyway, our relatives lived in an old farmhouse that had been in the family for generations ... though most of the farmland had been sold off over the years. Around the house was a "cyclone" fence. On top of the house was an old-fashioned lightning rod.

One night, there was a thunderstorm and we all went outside to see. We were standing across from the house, hoping to see lightning stike that rod. Well, we did. Then, the entire fence lit up with "St Elmo's Fire" for about 10 seconds. Then there was a loud BOOM, a flash of light, and we all came too on our backs.

The adults figured a lightning bolt may have struck in the middle of us. OR, another struck the lightning rod while the fence was still "charged" and some sort of "short circuit" happened.

Whichever the case, we all decided it was time to go back inside.

8:34 AM  
Blogger Amaya said...

I love thunder and lightening but if I'd been in your place I would have crapped my pants. Or did you just leave that detail out of the story? ;)

9:13 AM  
Anonymous gearhead said...

Over nearly 30 years of marriage, Ms. Gearhead has said hundreds of times,"You aren't afraid of anything, are you?"
Generally, the answer is no.
Lightning, however, scares me.
Yes, I love to set back on the porch and observe lightning and thunder.
But every once in a while i feel rather pinned down by it, and worry.
Several days ago, I had my flatbed loaded down with cargo to be delivered in an open field in Corvallis.
There I am driving down I-5, pulling a forklift at midnight, watching the biggest lightning display I've ever seen.
The closer I came to the farm, the more I became convinced that the lightening was striking down in that area.
And I'm talking about huge bolts, with viens that covered the southern sky, and lit up the area like daylight.
When I got there, I decided to step outside of the cab and determine distance.
The lightening storm stopped cold right about then, and all was well.
Still, the thought of driving around in an open field on a forklift with lightening striking all around me is very frightening.

12:40 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Auntie, it was an inspiring moment.

Beth, I still love a good piece of cake.

Walt, it's a wonder any of us survived.

Amaya, It's totally true. It is rare that I ever embellish here, and I'll usually admit to it. No I didn't soil myself, it just struck me as being really cool and something one only experiences once in a lifetime.

Gearhead, you've got rubber tires on that lift don't you? You would have been safe.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Mom of Three said...

We were driving home from Portland in it, and we weren't scared, it made the ride really interesting, actually.

10:10 PM  
Blogger Mike S said...

Guy, sorry, it isn't the rubber tires on a vehicle that save you, it's the disipation of the lightning throughout the metal structure. Not sure a forklift has enought metal to do other than be the tallest thing in the field. I got a greater appreciation for lightning late in life in FL after having several "near misses" while the storms were still far off. Seems the lightning can strike miles ahead of the actual storm. Nothing like standing on a sunny ball field when lightning strikes the backstop without a cloud in sight:(

10:34 PM  
Blogger The Guy Who Writes This said...

Mo3, free fireworks.

Mike, Gearhead sent me an email stating the very same. I guess I wouldn't want to be in an open field on a machine.

8:05 AM  

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