It's an ancient family story, and one I've heard so many times, as Uncle Dewey would say, that I'm actually starting to believe I was there for it. When I was four, five, six, we were visiting Aunt Jan at her school. Jan had a goat -- Guinevere, if I recall -- and, of course, I wanted nothing to do with it. Pappap told me I might oughtta pet her, that she's very friendly and likes attention. Nuh-uh, are you crazy?
Pappap said, "Why don't you want to pet her?"
I said, "Why would I want to pet her?"
And, according to our family custom, we just kind of stared dumbly at each other for a while.
As dusk settled in, he said to me, "Well. What if somebody asked you if you've ever petted a goat?"
I said, "Dunno."
He said, "Well, this way, you'll be able to say that you have."
I don't remember if I felt like he had me cornered or if I just stumbled over a rock and put my hand on Guinevere, but I did end up petting her that day. She and I got along quite well for many years to come.
About the time I entered high school, Pappap tried to conjole me into cutting the big yard down at the camp with a reel mower. He said, "Well. What if . . ."
I said, "Dad, nobody's ever asked me to pet a goat yet, and they're not likely to care how I tend the yard."
Still and all, I kind of wish I had cut the grass with a reel mower, and I'm not even sure why. I told Pappap that once, and asked him if he knew why. He said he didn't. Proving once again, that Pappap's wisdom is sometimes so deep even he can't see past it.
I mention all this in order to say this: sometimes, the experience has to be sought out, other times, it's just there. For instance, after tonight, if anybody asks me if I've ever burnt a steamed vegetable, I can honestly say, "Yes, in fact, I have." traci and the kids and I will dine tonight on a slightly charred butternut squash. Here's to new experiences.