Your Uncle Jordan celebrated his 25th birthday yesterday, so to commemorate the occasion I am going to add some more color to the ever expanding “Your uncle is a walking disaster” quilt we are building for him.
This is one of my favorite disaster memories of your uncle, and it has the distinct pleasure of being so despite the fact that I was not physically present to witness it. Sometimes, the mental pictures conjured up by a retelling of a story are just that much better than actual pictures.
So, picture your Uncle Jordan about 20 years ago. He’s five years old, with a diminishing but still substantial double chin concealing most of his neck. His hair is not yet the coarse, brown straw it is today. Back then, it was all golden curls, with little spirals springing off the side of his head. He actually looked quite a bit like you, Blue. Just paler.
When he was five years old, your uncle went to a babysitter next to our grade school. This babysitter just happened to have a barn, complete with a few stalls for horses, a loft for hay, and way back in the back, a feeding trough for goats.
Like any kid, it was only natural for your uncle to attempt to pet the goats when they came in to feed. This is what’s supposed to happen. Goats get the food. Kids pet them. It’s a universal truth, as widely known and understood as the concepts behind gravity. The rules are quite simple, however. There is a very clear boundary between child and goat, a thin veil of law and order that when broken, threatens to throw the system into chaos. You pet the goats from the outside of the bar. That’s the rule.
Your uncle broke that rule and decided that he didn’t want to pet the goats from behind anything. He wanted the immersive experience. So with only the bars holding him back, he decided to climb through the bars.
He went in headfirst and almost immediately realized his mistake. He pulled back his head but it was too late. His chin only met the resistance of the bars, and no matter which way he turned his head, he could not remove his head from the bars. In other word he was stuck.
Panicked, your uncle yelled for help. This was his second mistake, because guess who was first to arrive on the scene? You guessed it. The goats. And this is the part that makes me giggle…goats being goats, they interpreted his hair as food and began to aggressively munch on his curls. Which, due to his dome being stuck in between two metal bars, your uncle could neither avoid nor prevent.
He kept yelling, and people showed up on the scene. Despite their best efforts, no one was unable to remove his head from the bars. It was like his skull was Excalibur, and only the most worthy could remove it from its stone.
Your uncle’s knights in shining armor, as it would so happen, were members of the town fire department. Unable to safely remove his head from the bars, they cut a bar off and then your uncle was free, relatively undamaged except for the stripped tract of hair on top his scalp.
I remember that so clearly because when he arrived home, that’s the first thing we noticed.
“What happened to his hair?” I asked, thinking maybe a bad haircut. Maybe glue.
“He got his head stuck in the goat feeder and the goats chewed on his head,” your grandmother stated, her face amazingly stoic and non-grinning.
The rest of us, however, could not stop howling.
Let that be a lesson to you, Blue. Actually several lessons. One, never go into small, enclosed space headfirst, Put your arms in first. Second, if and when you do come across some bars that you have the urge to cross, consider the other side. If it has goats, reconsider that urge.
Your uncle’s hair is lopsided to this day.