Some Lessons May Never Be Learned – me and cat food cans

Don't we all love chemistry?

Don’t we all love chemistry?

I am currently wearing a bandage and tape on my left thumb.  Apparently, I am incapable of understanding that metal with sharp edges is very capable of clicking right through human skin. 

When I was a little boy, only seven years old, I cut my left thumb open pretty deep on the edge of a tuna can I was opening for me and my kitty.  My cat was hungry and I knew how to work the manual can opener.  Unfortunately, sometimes those old openers didn’t always cut the can open 100% and I dumbly pried the lid up…right into my thumb.

I was really dumb then; I’m so much smarter now.  Now, the cat food cans have lids that pry right off.  When the lids pry off, they leave sharp edges.  The edges are easy to avoid, relatively hard to cut yourself on.  If you’re clever, (and I am), you can reach into the can and press your thumb up against the sharp edge.  If you slide your thumb against that sharp edge, you can easily slice your thumb open, voila!  Told you I was smart – now I have two scars from cat food cans on my left thumb!

Cat food cans aren’t the only thin metal edges that can cut through skin so easily.  I figured this out pretty early, and of all places, a high school chemistry class.  Let me explain.

Also respect CU

Also respect CU

In the first 2/3rds of our senior year in high school, Kim and I were not allowed to see each other so we coordinated our class selections in an effort to spend more time together at school.  One of the classes Kim took with me was Chemistry.  She didn’t really want to take this class but it gave us more time together.

The teacher’s name was Mr. ‘G’.  It was rumored that Mr. G was fond of the boy students and less fond of the girls.  Kim and I sat next to each other for the first week or more, that is until he separated us.  He moved Kim all the way to the other side of the room, pretty much the farthest point away from me.  Well that was enough for Kim; if the rumors were correct, Mr. G got what he wanted we suspected because Kim dropped his class after that, one less girl.

It wasn’t long after that when I got to learn ‘firsthand’ the tensile strength of copper.  The class was going to do some kind of experiment.  I don’t recall what it was but we were told to go cut off a twelve inch piece of copper wire for the experiment.  One by one, we were all herding ourselves up to the supplies, gathering together what we needed.  Each person was taking a turn at cutting off a small piece of copper wire (such dummies they were).

I looked at the tiny little thin wire and the only thing I could think was how thin it was.  Why was everyone wasting their time with scissors?  No doubt I was showing off for the one single girl left in class when I simply picked up two ends of the weak wire and proceeded to pull off the twelve inches I needed.


And that’s when I immediately learned:

– Even the thinnest piece of copper wire is much, much stronger than human skin.

– There are a lot of veins and capillaries in the human hand.

– The human heart sure can squirt a lot of blood through those veins and capillaries.

– Cuts from very thin, weak copper wire can hurt more than those from cat food cans.

I was then to find that Mr. G should have been a physician because he had an excellent bedside manner.  He saw the mess that I was making all over his nice classroom and asked me – “did you try to pull the wire apart with your hands?”  And before I had an opportunity to respond, he then said “well that wasn’t very bright”.

He was right.

Yeah, but try taking them for a walk

Yeah, but try taking them for a walk

My life story site is supposed to be about growing up, learning lessons and sharing a few personal insights through my stories about my experiences.  So what’s the lesson here?  Maybe I should get a pet fish?


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