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When You Play With Fire You Get Burned

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Pain is relative. There are those who freely adopt the belief that words are more damaging and hurtful than any punch to the face or impromptu nut shot. Others find a stomach bug that comes as a side effect of eating gas station meatloaf is the worst feeling one can experience. With all due respect to those assholes, they’ve never landed hands first on a wood stove. Thus, having never experienced the kind of raw pain our forefathers fought, they’ve never reaped the rewards of sweet agony.

As with most things, the problems started with alcohol and a woman. Having spent a number of weeks getting it on the reg from a gal who enjoyed soft jazz and fingers up her butt, a few offhanded comments about her friends along with a lack of desire to commit saw me once again stranded without the sweet embrace of poontang. I had two choices: learn and grow from the experience while appreciating what I had like a little bitch, or get so drunk that even Pope Francis would have some issues forgiving me. I decided to hit the bar around noon on a weekday.

About nine hours later I came to far from my comfy stool, having a conversation with folks who clearly wanted nothing to do with my annihilated level of drunken shit. Standing was about all I was capable of, and even that was about to become a challenge. I’m not sure whether my stumble was a result of the drunkenness combined with toddler levels of coordination, or if somebody rightfully tackled me, but I was going down and needed to catch myself. Enter the wood stove, shock, and a pain so intense that even multiple hours of heavy drinking couldn’t mask it. My dreams of becoming a hand model were over, and so was the impromptu weekday party. I had become that asshole and the Pope was “tut-tutting” even as I passed out into a fitful sleep. I awoke the next day to the smell of burned flesh, hefty blisters on both hands, and a chunk of skin literally melted from my palm. Medical attention was necessary.

Of course, not all rock bottom stories have an unhappy ending. When I made my way to the campus clinic the next day, still buzzed and with hands resembling equal parts fried tortillas and freshly sliced ham steak, I reeked of a man in need of help and sympathy. Female nursing students have plenty of both in excess. I’m not telling you to have a terrible accident that results in visible damage, but what I’m saying is that chicks will take extra special care of burn victims if they’re both sympathetic and able to joke about it. You may even score a phone number for help “changing your dressing at home”. I think they call this phenomenon Florence Henderson Syndrome, and it is awesome. With my hands wrapped in enough gauze to cover a flayed Charles Barkley, I was in desperate need of such a turn of events. As if things could get any better, her nurturing instinct and my inability to physically support myself meant I wasn’t on top much and could make as many “look ma, no hands!” references as I wanted. For that I am admittedly sorry, mom.

Sometimes, when life closes a door, the intense heat absorbed by metal during the process of thermal conduction opens a window. Even if that window is cramped and hot, it’s up to all of us to accept it as a way of moving on from a trash situation. Handling adversity is in our blood. It is welcoming it as an invitation to new beginnings that falls to us in the present day. Now go make this week your nursing student.

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Karl Karlson

Karl Karlson is TFM's self-proclaimed cartoon expert and your best buddy. He resides in Eastern NC where he spends his time roasting pigs and attempting to grow a beard. Karl enjoys drinking on elevated surfaces and rapping on podcasts.

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