Eat Your Heart Out, Robert Frost

path in the woods

 

     Full disclosure: I’ve read admittedly very little Robert Frost. Me and my friend Greg, who really sort of made me want to write, among other influences, and who I now coincidentally share a bathroom with, use to have to read Frost for our AP English class senior year in high school. And we hated the man’s poetry so much we still joke about it to this day. But somehow Frost made it into the canon of admired American poets of the past. Really, there is no other category of admired American poets other than “of the past.” I think comedian Ron White had a Facebook post once about how “On this day March 17, 2012, the last person bought book of poetry.” Something like that.

     And yet when I walked on the path leading into the woods behind the Humane Society, Robert Frost immediately came to mind. I don’t know if this path was here the first time I worked here because you could still smoke on the grounds and me and the other smokers gathered around a picnic table at the back of the building. Well, you can’t do that anymore. The entire campus is “Smoke-Free”.

     It was really kind of a fluke that I found the woods at all. I just went out to my car to grab my smokes and saw the sign that read “No dog-walkers beyond this point”. So as I built a resentment against the imaginary zealot volunteer dog-walkers that were probably responsible for the campus being “Smoke-Free”, I strolled down the path into a heavily wooded area and was simply stunned by it.

     This little path that lead away from the campus turned into nothing but a thick forest with a lovely path meandering through it and by the time I had been walking for 5 minutes, I couldn’t even see the point at which the path ended and emptied out onto the parking lot from which I had started this little trek. It was amazing to me that so close to my workplace was this haven of nature complete with birds fluttering among the canopy and creaking trees that had fallen in the storms only to be halted by other trees still standing.

     Now, this certainly wasn’t the road “less traveled by” as there was empty 40-ounce Bud Lite bottles and what looked to be deflated balloons that weren’t really deflated balloons because I know what they really were but was sure as hell not going to bend over to find out. But the little clearing I found off the path was really quite lovely, if you could get past the discarded tires and dirt assembled into a bike jump. And I certainly got past it quickly. I sat down on one of the bike-jump mounds and just marveled at this tiny pocket of natural beauty. But it was really the sounds of the place. I closed my eyes and I was far enough away from cars parking and dogs barking that I was able to hear the birds taking off and landing as their friends chirped encouragement, the wind rustling the leaves, the groan of the fallen trees.

     I found this serene place on my first day back. It seemed as if the universe had gifted it to me as my own little sanctuary. I had sat on the mound and I silently declared it was my “Lunchtime Serenity Spot” to the birds (they didn’t seem to mind). Between working two jobs and volunteering, along with what passes for a personal life, I have very little time to devote to grounded, silent meditation in solitude. So I’ve come to cherish small moments such as this one when I’m allotted 10 minutes or so throughout my days to grab little mini-meditations. Just a snapshot in my life where I am able to circle my wagons and develop a strategy for next 12 hours.

     I finished smoking, rose and stretched, once again lamenting the fact that Americans never embraced the tradition in Spain of eating lunch, then sacking out for a couple hours before returning to work in the mid-afternoon. I walked back to the parking lot and reality. And I am so grateful that I found my Lunchtime Serenity Spot. I imagine I will be visiting it often.

Advertisements

For Jack Sigler, 1934-2014

Jack Sigler and his sister Mary Ann

Jack Sigler and his sister Mary Ann

 

Dear Jack,

I got 2 years sober June 23. Next month. I wish you could have been here for that. It’s probably not very important to you, but it would have meant a lot to me. But then again, we do share the Sigler gene of loving history. It would have been nice to be able prove to you and everybody else that I’m in this thing to win it by ceremonially hitting the day with you there to see it.

I just Googled Amos Jackson Sigler. Turns out he was born in 1851 the son of George Washington Sigler. Poetic. I don’t know if you remember but I got the wild hair up by butt one day when I was doing that fellowship at the Newbury Library (Y’know, the children’s book award folks) when I lived in Chicago and I discovered that the name Jackson Sigler goes back at least to him. So that would make you the 3rd or 4th generation of Jackson Siglers. I brought in the 5th generation and Dave’s son Jake makes 6. Who knows, I may still have my own son and I’ll insist that there is a Jackson in his name somewhere just for insurance purposes.

My friends in the Facebook creative group I’m in encouraged me to write something about you. My friend Dan kind of led the way telling me that I should lend my creativity to a sort remembrance of you. Dan is in recovery with me and when we discovered we were both in the group together and we were both in recovery, well, the bond was pretty well solidified, even if he had been a jerk. But it turns out I like him a lot and he’s been one of my biggest cheerleaders. You’d like him, he’s a smart fella. I mean, not Sigler smart, but he can hold his own, know what I mean? The friends in the Open Group for Bedlam Farm are definitely of the breed of people you would call “some of my best friends I’ve never met.” It was started by a guy whose books I had been reading for awhile, then I looked him up on FB, started following his blog and he invited me to join the group. I was pretty much because those folks and that group that I started my blog. Hard to turn down an instant audience, you know? But some of the compliments you’ve written in the threads of the blog posts always make me smile. You’re just good people, Jack.

Anyway, this is supposed to be about you. My mom gave me a jump drive that has the emails and other correspondance she collected when I was sick. True to form, I only found one you wrote. This is it :

Bob,

Despite my (unusual) inability to express myself very well and my reluctance (stupid, I know) to talk about other peoples’ problems, I just couldn’t let this one go by.

 

I have cheered with each report of Andy’s amazing improvement, kept him steadily in my prayers, and look forward to the next news.

 

“And then you leave and think…Oh, F—k.” (We history scholars are not beyond a bit of creative editing of original sources). How will it end? Life never does, it goes on and on until the Lord decides it is time to close the universe down. How will Andy’s trials end? This has been very much on my mind, as well, but no one knows. We only know that he has made amazing progress, that he is doing his very best, and that a very large cheering section – natural and supernatural – has assembled for him.

 

And how will yours end? Years ago, I read somewhere that “our children are hostages to fate,” and I have found that consistently true (though in Andy’s case, it looked like the Fates might have been wearing Al-Qaeda masks). Therefore, in one sense, it will never end – just change the issues, hopefully for somewhat easier ones, as long as you live. To survive that, I have found, takes prayer, a one-day-at-a-time mindset, and a glass of wine in the evening.

 

But every now and then it helps to blow off steam without involving either the angels or your wife. In that case, send me whatever rant you wish via email.

 

I love you, and my prayers for David are linked to mine for you and Jean.

Jack

 

I remember busting down crying when I read that, much as I am right now. And trust me, the irony of you using a tried-and-true AA saying is not lost on me. That thing you said, “Therefore, in one sense, it will never end – just change the issues, hopefully for somewhat easier ones, as long as you live.” Well, it did change for me Jack, in ways I’d never dreamed possible, although not without bottoming out first. But really, it couldn’t have been any other way. And I’m really happy you were there to see it. I read that email and I remember thinking “God, that’s the big brother talking to the little brother” even though you and Da were like 70 and 58 when you wrote it. And I remember calling my brother the day I first read that email, just like I called him today. If I have anything to say about it, me and Dave will still be sending each other emails when we’re in our 70s. My Da is my Da and I think, and this is just me, that he probably looks up to you the same way I look up to Dave. If you are lucky enough to have it, the bond between brothers can transcend almost anything. I mean Spielberg and Ambrose wrote an entire miniseries about the bond between “brothers.” And as you know, Ambrose wrote the seminal book about Crazy Horse and Custer. More on that subject in a minute.

My memories of you are kind of sporatic, just a quick visit a couple times year. I don’t know if Mom and Da still have it, but I imagine the photo of Da and you grilling out in the snow in April is somewhere. That’s definitely something that at least kind of runs in the family, the little brother’s need to impress the big brother. That or you and my Da just didn’t give a shit that it was snowing because dammit, you were gonna have Omaha Steaks grilled in Omaha come hell or high water (which is kinda bullshit anyway because everybody knows the best steaks in Omaha come from Wohlner’s). Probably a little of both.

I decided when I wrote this that I wanted to include something from the trip to the Little Bighorn, the final showdown between Crazy Horse and Custer, we made all those years ago. That email cousin Trish sent out about that trip was rife with memories, but I have one that no one else has and which I will always cherish. When my Da and I were headed back to Omaha, he shared a story with me. Remember the morning after we went to the battlefield, you were riding in the car with Da to go to breakfast with the rest of the gang? When we went to the battlefield the day before, you could only view the slope that led away from the ridge where the battle happened from the ridge itself. There was a little dilapidated house and a corral with one horse down in the valley where the Indians started coming up the ridge. It’s also where the battle started and there was something you wanted to see in that area, I forget what. Chances are pretty good you just wanted to see the battlefield from every angle (I remember seeing photos of you and Da at the battlefield of Waterloo. That one I could have, and did, easily miss. I know nothing about Napoleon, other than I think he tried to make a run on Moscow as winter approached. Which as you well know is just stupid. I mean seriously, if I ever try to take over the world, I’m not going near Russia until, like, July.) Anyway, approaching the Little Bighorn from that direction would have probably required using some of your wicked diplomacy skills to persuade the owner of the property to let you root around their yard. But you declined. The next morning when you were in the car, my Da said “Y’know if you wanted to go and try and see the valley today, we should have done it before everybody else was up and ready to go …”

To which you quickly replied, “I know! I know!” so disappointed in yourself for not having done so. That story will probably always be my favorite and most distinct memory of you. Not because I was there, but because I can completely imagine you when you said it. That incredibly stoic, slightly twitchy guy who talked in that gravelly voice as though you had just gone through a pack of Luckies. And in every photo I’ve ever seen, you have your trademark grin. I’m certainly going to miss that grin.

One of the things I’m gonna miss the most about you is your tenacity, something you definitely passed on to your namesake. I remember a FB post I wrote about losing 20 pounds and you jokingly asked how I did that. I mean, seriously Jack, at the time, you were pushing 80. Kinda like me with the meningitis. God said “Take that!” and you and I said, “What else you got.” Because far be it from God to tell me what I can and can’t do, right? No, you went out exactly how I imagined you would, on your own terms. Y’know, in case the Universe didn’t get the memo that Jack Sigler will go when Jack Sigler is goddamn good and ready to go.

There, with the grace of God and you looking over His shoulder to make sure He’s doing it right, go I. I’m not gonna get all Hallmark card on you. That just wasn’t your way. But know that I’ve thought of you often in my life, wondered how you were, and would jump at the chance to come over to Mom’s house even if you were just going to be in town for a night. And when I hit that 2 year anniversary, I hope that you are somewhere looking down and smiling. Actually, that’s not true. I hope you are pulling Napoleon aside and telling him everything he should have done.

God knows you could.

Him (Scene of the Crime), Pt. 2

He raised one eyebrow. “What?”

“I said the sun is shining.” I looked over at the plate-glass window, then returned to Him. “I’m going for a walk when I get home. Afterwards, I’m going to write this blog post.”

“Y’lost me,” He said.

“Let me explain so you’re jacked little booze-riddled noodle can wrap its pissy little crab legs around it because you’re obviously not getting it. What you say and what you do doesn’t matter. Just as those 2 decades I spent in the Waste Land don’t matter. What matters is Now. What I do Now is all there is. And right Now, the sun is shining. Right Now I’m going to take a drug test. Now, what will happen because of the drug test is I’ll be cleared to work at the Society again. And I’ll take care of the cats and I’ll volunteer with the dogs and maybe I’ll get the job in Behavior I want and maybe I won’t. And maybe they will clear me to work with controlled substances again and maybe they won’t. But none of that is happening right Now. Here and Now is what matters. I’m writing you and me in this waiting room and I’m trying to come up with cleverly descriptive ways to paint you but let’s be honest, you’re a pretty tired character and there’s only so much I can do with you, y’dig? Maybe, soon, hopefully, I’ll start writing the book and that scares the hell out of me because you scare the hell out of me and I have to come face to face with you and I’m going to have to do it a lot. But again, that’s not what is happening right Now. Now is what matters. The Now of this moment in this story I’m telling and the Now of the guy sitting in his room that just felt a huge sense of relief because he realized why he was writing this post in the first place. What doesn’t have a place in this Now in the story and in my life is you. You will come back, I know this. And I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. But that won’t happen, because there is no bridge.”

“How’s that?”

“There is no bridge. There is no future, just as there is no past. There is only Now and what I choose to do with it. For instance …”

Suddenly and with no warning, He became a hippopotamus. The flask fell on the floor because hippopotamus’s don’t have thumbs.

“That’s not funny,”

“Yes it is. Quite funny actually,” I said. “So is this …”

He was now a hippopotamus with a chef’s hat on and a ladle soaked with spaghetti sauce in his mouth.

“Hmm. Nah, I can do better than that,” I said and, instantly, He morphed again, this time into an enormous gorilla sitting slumped over with a paper birthday party hat in His head and a noise-maker in His mouth.

“Change me back asshole,” He said, his words muffled by the noise-maker which expanded and gave a pitiful little “Fwaaa” when He spoke.

“That’s better, but not the best I can do. Let’s try …”

He morphed into a kiddie wading pool with His face blended into the edge of the pool (I sat on a big rock on the middle.) Two little girls in pretty pink bathing suits frolicked in the pool, splashing and giggling.

“See. My reality is the only reality that matters when I’m writing the story,” I said and smiled wide.

Turn me back goddammit!” He screamed in a voice like He’d inhaled a whole balloon filled with helium.

I sighed. “Oh, alright,” I said and He turned into a water lily floating around the kiddie wading pool and the little girls wore bicep floaties and danced around in a circle, arms hooked, singing “Ring Around the Rosie.”

“There. Perfect,” I said. The people in the waiting room and the staff behind the counter resumed their normal faces and activity, but He remained a floating water lily. “Andrew Sigler?” the receptionist said loudly. I stepped into the pool and zipped up my jacket half-way.

“See, my reality. Right here. Right Now. I know what I want to do with that future. It’ll take work and yes, often there will be drudgery and boredom. And often there will be excitement and joy. I will fall in love, I may fall out of love, and when I email a woman from Match.com later. unbeknownst to me, I may be emailing the love of the my life and this universe for me. And I may not. But it will be my Now, my life. And, sorry guy, but you don’t seem to have a very prominent role in it.

He was sitting across from me in the normal waiting room again. His flask had returned to His hand.

“Hate to deprive of you that,” I said and the flask was in His mouth. He choked on a big pull of vodka. “It is, after all, all you have. You can keep it. I don’t need it.”

 

 

Him (Scene of the Crime), Pt. 1

I knew He would show, I just didn’t know where or when.

I sat in the waiting room of the same clinic that I had taken the positive drug test 4 years before. I flipped through the Sports Illustrated, feeling that semi-annual twinge of regret that I just don’t get as much into the nuts-and-bolts of baseball as my Da and my brother. It would give me lot more to talk about with them, I thought. I hardly noticed Him sitting across from me, flipping a quarter over and over. But I did notice Him. A few moments went by before I started to fidget.

I wanted Him to say something. I wanted Him to get in my face, just throw off the gloves and start swinging. But He didn’t. I lowered the magazine enough to glimpse at His face. The grin was gone. In its place, a stern look of authority. He glared at me, tiny yellow flares where His pupils should have been. A thin, flat line of a mouth. His nostrils flared, then flared again. He flipped the coin as His chest raised and lowered with deep breathes. Then His eyes returned to normal and He breathed naturally. And still He flipped the coin.

“You’re proving to be most troublesome,” He said, allowing the smirk to return, though laboriously.

“I’m just doin’ how I do,” I said. It was the phrase that I’ve come to adopt as my code of living.

“Yea, well, how you do is pissing me off,” He said He rose and began strolling around the waiting room. I looked over at the counter. The woman sitting behind it had stopped moving. The nurses behind her had stopped too. They didn’t look natural. They looked like the figures in a wax museum, smiles plastered over blank faces. The guy across from me in the frayed gray Billabong T-shirt was the same, jaw frozen mid-gum chew and his hand suspended over the table next to him with a Mountain Dew almost settled. The woman next to him was locked in place as she bent over to comfort the toddler next to her with a stuffed animal. Meanwhile, as He walked around the lobby, He stopped to take the Kangol hat off a guy looking up at the TV. He put on the hat and check out his reflection in the TV, then put it back on the man’s head.

“What I want to know is do you really think you’re going to make it?”

“One day at a—“

“Oh shut up with that shit,” He said and checked his face in the reflection of a framed picture of a meadow at sunset. “All the clichés in the world won’t keep you sober and you know it. And all the good fortune and second chances and “They believe in me” horseshit doesn’t matter either. I have a weapon you know nothing about. And why should you? I mean, this is your first attempt at sobriety. God knows there will be others,” He said, eyes twinkling. I crossed my legs, lifted an eyebrow slightly, and looked at Him quizzically.

“Drudgery,” He said and the quarter landed on the back of His hand, He glanced at it. “Ohhh, heads. That’s not a good thing for you. I’ll try and explain it so your jacked little brain-damaged noodle can wrap its pissy little crab legs around it. The biggest reason addicts and alcoholics like you start doing the deed again is because of the monotonous, soul-crushing boredom that your so-called new life brings. For the simple-minded, this is kept easily at bay by frequent meetings, maybe getting laid now and then, a decent enough job that they can afford P.F. Chang’s once a month. Maybe a trip to bloody Disneyland before they die.” He sat down across from me again and put His hands in His lap. A gray-and-white cat materialized under His hands and he began stroking it. The cat turned its head to me and hissed.

“This is not the case with you,” He said. “You’re smart, you’re funny, you’ve got a lot going for you. Well, had a lot going for you. That’s where I come in. You’ve managed to screw up your life pretty good with your ‘I’m gonna live life to its fullest and to hell with doing something productive’ mentality” He said as He grabbed the cat’s scruff and yanked its head back, then peered at me. “All on mommy and daddy’s dime, mind you. And now, well, ‘washed up at 38’ kind of starts to grasp where you are buddy boy. Never mind the wasted potential. Never mind the failed and damaged relationships with those who love you. Never mind the strings daddy has had to pull to keep you out of jail. Nope, you went out there and by God you drank and smoked away 2 decades of your life in the name of … what? And now you think with a couple years of clean time you’re just gonna walk away from the excuse for a life you’ve made for yourself? Well sorry Ahab. Doesn’t work that way. You may not have known it at the time, but you opened the door for me a long time ago, I danced in, and you are never getting rid of me. And you can tell yourself you allow me to stick around because you need me blah blah blah. But I am in control, not you. And no matter how you got these people at the Society and your friends and family to believe in you, the recovering alcoholic like you always fails because I win. I win with the drudgery their life becomes. I win because I remind them of the time they wasted and the trust they lost. I get in their head, inch by inch, and dance around a little and tell them they’re a waste of space. And you know what? They believe me. I always win. And all the Zen meditation and flower trays and fuckin’ candles in the world doesn’t change a damn thing, alright?”

I uncrossed my legs and, instead, folded my hands on my lap. Palms up, right hand over the left, thumbs touching. I close my eyes for a moment, then opened them and stared directly at Him.

“Sunshine.” I said simply.

Million Dollar Idea 3, Pt.3

If your sensibilities are a bit too delicate to stomach the idea of sending a mild electric current through your child’s body in order to save the price of another ticket to your destination, I have another idea that should suffice, and this is a lot of fun.

That’s right. Imagine your little one gets a wild hair up his ass and decides whatever is on the other side of the PONR that attracts his attention will somehow make his short life complete. And he main lines directly for it. And within about 6 inches of the TSA agent dutifully sitting on his ass on a stool and staring off into space until a wheelchair attendant approaches to let a chair roll down the ramp and bang into his shins, he cross a motion sensor that activates a trap door. And finds himself, mere seconds later, engulfed in a sea of multi-colored balls. Disco! After a 5 or 6 seconds of bewilderment, I guarantee you he will begin rockin’ and rollin’ amongst four or five hundred small plastic balls. Or maybe the moat could be filled with small bean bags! That would make for some prime romping time. And just think, if two kids find themselves in the moat together … BOOM! Instant play date! Hell, you could probably read an entire article about how Hillary screwed up Benghazi or how much Obamacare sucks and the Republicans are sure to win the election next time in Newsweek in that time.

Then again, you do run the risk of the little twerp deliberatley, or not, accidentally getting one caught in his mouth and he bites down. Now he’s got a mouth full of bean bag stuffing, which is almost certainly a choking hazard and definitely loaded with enough chemicals to ensure he sprouts a second nose within a year. I suppose it’s possible that the stuffing could very well be laced with enough fire-retardant chemicals that the kid might develop a Wolverine-like ability to heal any wound in a matter of seconds, but he’s still got the other kids at school making fun of him because of his second snout. Either way, you’ve got a whole new set of problems with your fire-proof mutated little piglet.

Okay, forget the bean bags idea.

Instead, imagine loosely scattered stuffed Dora the Explorers and Tickle Me Elmos among the balls. No 4 year-old kid is gonna turn that down.

Now, for the 5-7 age group who are still battling the ADHD rampant in their age group, the balls probably won’t have much of an impact. Don’t worry, gotcha covered there, too. Because of the fact that the multi-colored balls have only so much impact on older children, there comes bursting out of 1 out of every 10 balls via spring-loaded hatches within those balls, triggered by the wiggling and squirming of those kids trying to get out of the moat, a veritable mine field of Wild Berry Skittles, Sweethearts and peanut M’n’Ms. You’ve got colorful balls, you’ve got Elmo, and I defy you to name me a kid that doesn’t love peanut M’n’Ms. Go on. I dare ya.

Remember that the point in all of this is to distract your little one enough that he inadvertently remains on the safe side of the PONR long until your plane boards. And yes, I acknowledge that once you are on the plane, he becomes the concern of you, your fellow passengers and the flight crew how to keep him sedated enough to travel to your destination. By the way, I fully support and condone the use of sedatives in this situation. I hear Benadryl works wonders.

Million Dollar Idea 3, Pt. 2

There’s really only 3 or 4 parents at any one time who are braving the waters of traveling with a toddler. But there is enough smoking, flaming Elmo-sized juggernauts to warrant some kind of deterrent to dissuade them from even trying to cross the Point of No Return (PONR) at the TSA checkpoint. So, to aid parents everywhere in raining in their little ones, I propose the Kiddy Kollar!

Y’know those electric collars they put on dogs that, when activated, give the beast a small electric shock that, while they are far from enough to kill them, they do pack enough punch to bring the dog to their knees? I mean, it certainly makes them think twice about leaving the property. Now we can debate the humane quality (or lack of) of such devices all day long, let alone their efficacy. I mean let’s be honest, how many dogs are truly bright enough to, through trial-and-error, determine that it’s the collar that is causing them the brief moment of discomfort? Sure Border Collies and German Shepard’s are smart enough to divine that it’s the collar that keeps shocking them and it’s only when they cross certain invisible lines that such an instance occurs. But take, say, a beagle. No idea whatsoever. Beagles are just not the sharpest knife in the drawer and they can wear these collars and run head long into the property line, withstand the electrical current at full force and never get the picture. To them, it’s like a swat with an imaginary rolled-up newspaper. No effect and they don’t even know why it happened, hence no learning. And while the debate over whether the cognitive progress of a human toddler and beagle certainly has its place in academia, I personally don’t see much difference. But that’s me. I mean, both are distracted by shiny objects and flashing lights and so on. But nevermind.

For our purposes, imagine if you will that you are the concerned, watchful parent of said toddler (Usually boys. I honestly have yet to see a little girl running amok, though I’m sure it happens). And your direct attention, for only a moment mind you, is consumed with filling up your soda cup at the fountain ($12.50) or perusing the latest issue of Shooting TImes ($17.85) Shooting

or filling your water bottle that you dutifully emptied before the TSA checkpoint because we have to protect ourselves from the potential terrorist looking to blow up the whole freaking airport with a, y’know, um, water balloon. And you see out of the corner of your eye your little one gunning for the PONR. The child is coming dangerously close to the sweet taste of freedom and … ZAPPO! With the collar fixed firmly around his neck, the little guy drops mere inches from the promised land. And again, the voltage is weak enough to drop him, just not enough to really hurt him or cause any significant, lasting neurological damage. The kid sheds a batch of crocodile tears while you finish filling your soda or the latest review of the Glock. You walk over, Kleenex in hand and concealing the remote device that activated the collar, and wipe away the misery. Over, done with, gone.

Now, onlookers will almost certainly question your aptitude in raising a child at all (and, most likely, your stance on basic human rights as a whole). But I guarantee that at least the parents that see it will take note that the child hasn’t undergone any lasting damage. And for those who do want to question your abilities in rearing children, I propose a settle disguise for the device. Maybe a cute little Spiderman mask with an elastic, “extra firm” neck band. Or perhaps an adorable little Mexican bandito outfit with two bandoliers crisscrossing over the child’s chest and linked together with small copper wire over the child’s collarbones. For the little girl who attempts this maneuver, picture a pretty pink princess dress and clear, plastic slippers. And a tiara, of sorts. I haven’t yet researched what might be lasting harm from massive electric shocks directly to the cranium. But they didn’t seem to have much effect on Jack in Cuckoo’s Nest, so I think we’re safe.

I’ll concede that this might be a bit drastic a measure to employ with the renegade child. It might also be counterproductive. I mean, imagine what would happen if the child merely builds up an immunity to the maximum amount of shock the collar is capable of administering. That level of tolerance to pain might turn the kid into a championship wrestler with a full-ride to the university of his choice. It also may create a super-bully who grows up to be a juvenile delinquent who is simply impervious to the mace and stun guns of would-be police officers. It might even be prime conditioning for the occasional bullet from the handgun of a homeowner. I mean, forget juvy or Army boot camp. You’d need a freakin’ game warden to reckon with that kid.

Pondering this, I got another idea that will appeal to parents more than the Kiddy Kollar in its more touchy-feely approach …