Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Just in Case You Don't Read the Comments Section

This just in from Chris Chan:

"I first learned what "defenestration" meant when I was 11, read a murder mystery where the word was used, and looked it up.
Here's one of my favorite anecdotes on the history of defenestration, quoted from Wikipedia.

"Historically, defenestration was used as an act of political dissent. Notably, the Defenestrations of Prague (1419 and 1618) helped trigger prolonged conflict within Bohemia and beyond. Catholics ascribed the survival of those defenestrated at Prague Castle in 1618 to divine intervention (often said to be done by angels catching them), while Protestants claimed that it was due to their landing in a large pile of manure."

I say the survivors were caught by angels. Definitely. No way manure's taking the credit for that. "

Well, Chris, let me tell you how I first learned about defenestration. None of this "looking it up in the dictionary" business, I learned it first hand, shortly after my sixth birthday party. Some kid who didn't know me very well gave me a Barbie as a gift.

Back up a second: some important background. Five months earlier, Santa had given my fraternal units1 a nintendo and a basketball hoop. The nintendo doesn't play into the story at all, I just remember the hoop because of the nintendo- it was like the cake under the icing2. As soon as the hoop was installed on the patio in my backyard, we played actual basketball for about twenty minutes before it got old. So we raced up to Fraternal Unit T2's room on the second story, which had a window that overlooked tha patio- adn more importantly, was about five feet up and ten feet over from the basketball hoop. We pushed the screen out of the corner in the window and tossed out anything we could find , trying to make baskets. Eventually, a whole elaborate points scheme was created, with additional points being given for how pissed off the parentals got, and how well an item weathered the toss.

Well, by the time my birthday rolled around in May, for some reason, the fraternal units had not yet gotten to the point where they would take my stuff and throw it out the window. Until I came home with a Barbie. One of the older ones (there are five) baited me, "Hey, do you want to learn what defenestration is? Barbie will really like it! It's the coolest thing ever!"

Now you'd think I'd be a little wary about accepting such advice from the fraternals. I'd been burned before, badly. A few years before, when I had received my first Cabbage Patch Kid Doll, Fraternal Unit D2 had waited until my parents were out, and then told me that I'd be really cute if the CPK doll and I had the same haircut.

"But I'm not allowed to use scissors, won't I get in trouble?" I asked.

"No way!" replied Fraternal Unit D2. "Mom and Dad wil think you're even cuter than before, and they'll think you're so creative for matching your doll. And your doll's hair will grow out just like yours!"

Well, as the youngest of six kids, let me tell you, it's hard to be creative when five people have come before you and done EVERYTHING3. I constantly strove for new ways to seem original and inventive to the parentals, so that they would love ME best. I cut off all of my doll's hair as well as my own. When the parentals arrived home, I don't know if they were more pissed off that my precious little girl curls were gone, or that I had ruined the doll they woke up at 4 o'clock in the morning to get. As they yelled at me, tears of confusion welled up in my eyes while Fraternal Unit D2 sat in the background and smirked. That was the day I learned the word schadenfreude.

So by the time my sixth birthday rolled around, I should have been a little less trusting of the fraternals' motives, a wizened old woman. But I wanted the fraternals to play with me, and more importantly, I wanted them to see me as radical4. Barbie was DEFINITELY not cool. So I handed Barbie over, and the fraternals delighted themselves while I stood in the background watching. The assembled a cadre of G.I. Joes and Transformers and duly threw Barbie out the window, limb by limb, saving her head for last. A couple of her limbs made baskets, and a few of them stayed in the net for many moons, reminding me every time I looked at it, that defenestration made me kinda cool for an afternoon.

1.Well, ostensibly to me as well, but I never got to touch either, and if I did, by some weird fluke, get my mitts on a ball or a control, a fraternal would snatch it back, telling me they'd show me how to do it.

2. Yes, I mean that. Icing is sooooo much better than cake.

3. Except law school!!!!

4. It was 1986.


Blogger The Bird said...

I used to shoot my brother's GI Joes into the air on bottle rockets. Transformers have more parts to break, though, which is sweet. I should have thought of that...

5:31 PM  

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