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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Ash Wednesday

True stories:  When I was a kid, I found three experiences to be particularly traumatic.

#1) Dental Work
As a very young kid, we went to a dentist who didn't believe in using Novocain.  Not a drop.  As I type this, I still have a memory of that drill going into my baby teeth...the pressure...the pain...the smell.  Fortunately, by the time reached about age 12, the old Dentist stopped practicing (that or Simon Wiesenthal finally caught up with him) so we started seeing a new dentist.  This one was far more compassionate.

#2) Needles
Like most kids, I hated needles.  What made me particularly bad with the pointy things was the fact that I had surgery three times between the ages of 5 and 7, so I got stuck a lot.  It honestly wasn't until my 20's before that fear started to wain.  Nowadays?  Heck, I give instructions on the placement of an IV (top of the hand, thank you very much).

#3) Ash Wednesday
I loathed Ash Wednesday as a kid.  I literally hated it.  In fact, on more than one occasion I would become sick...real or imaginary...when the day came around.  Why?  Well, there are probably a few reasons, but three come to mind...
  • I simply didn't like someone smearing dirt on me.  It made me feel filthy.  Just writing that brings back memories of that gritty feeling as the dirty was spread on my all-too-large forehead.  It reminded me of filled ashtrays at home. 
  • Reminding me, as a young kid, that I was going to die seemed cruel, especially given my incredibly fertile imagination.
  • The exercise seemed so insincere, what with normally mean-spirited people walking around with this mark on their heads, saying "look at me, I'm so pious (in all of the wrong ways)".  It was a kind of "black badge of insincerity". 

What's kind of ironic is the fact that the first two items have completely turned around on me as I've grown older.  I am border-line fanatical about my teeth these days, and I even had a dental implant done.  As for needles, well, see above...I really don't mind.  In fact, if it's something that will help me, well, bring it on.  Ash Wednesday, it still skeeves me out.  Luckily for me, nowadays I no longer have to pretend to be sick when the day comes around every year.  I still don't, however, like to look at people with it on their foreheads.  

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