There are three things I hate: bulls, dentists, and electric fences.
I was mauled by a yearling bull at a young age, causing me flinch when one ambles, snorts, charges, or meanders by. (Newt raises his eyebrow as we work cattle, “Why are you on the fence? He won’t get you.) The bull’s name was “Toad”. The yearling bulls had charged through the fence. Dad was chasing them back into the pen, when my brother and I happened back from our one-room school. It was a warm day in September and I wore my new Hawaiian shorts outfit complete with white Keds.
“Block the hole in the fence there,” he shouted. I stood in the fence and admired the palm trees on my shirt and thinking about how great it felt to be in 1st grade. SNORT! Toad was a cranky bull and didn’t like the sight of me. He put down his shaggy, black head and charged for me. I remember screaming (like the girl I was) and running for the underslung trailer. My feet were pedaling, racing to beat that crazy beast behind me, when, FLOP and ROLL, I tumbled to the ground and somersaulted through the sandbur patch. Toad, pleased to see my defeat, bellowed as he ran past. The sandburs were thick, sharp, and dry. I remember Dad tweezering out the stickers the next morning. I looked like the chickenpox had struck. Red welts covered my legs, arms, and body.
Electric fences are unbarbed wire with a current running through it. The current alternates on and off. If you get close enough to touch- ZAP- the current runs through your body. I would squeeze between the fence and the post as a shortcut (across the same pen Toad tried to freight-train me). Every time- ZAP! Or my older brother would test the wire for me. “It’s not hot.” I would crawl over the wire- ZAP! A neighbor boy found out water (more correctly, a stream of urine) also conducts electricity on an electric fence.
Lastly, dentists. I love my dentist, Dr. Bill. He is wonderful, gentle, and he still scares me. Even with the goofy magnifying lens over his glasses. I’ve been burned by the dentists of my past. After several shots in the mouth, a deep cavity and root canal later, I learned I would have to redo all my old fillings.
Just like bulls and electric fences, I realized, dentists only hurt when they are close enough to touch you.