Miss Lily came to our house a month lat­er and just maybe, saved my sis­ter Paula’s life. Well, what hap­pened may not have actu­al­ly killed her, but if Lil­ly hadn’t been there, it would have put a seri­ous crimp on Paula’s abil­i­ty to eat prop­er­ly, chew or speak. Not sure how the Appalachi­an look­ing, leath­ery-faced smok­er found out. Could have been my mom’s hys­ter­i­cal pleas that drew her in, or she hap­pens to be walk­ing by at the right time. Don’t recall. But she came upon an odd dilem­ma involv­ing my sis­ter get­ting her tongue stuck in a coke bot­tle. What the cir­cum­stances were remains a mys­tery.

Here’s my hypoth­e­sis: I do know physics was involved. Let me explain. It has some­thing to do with pres­sure being pro­por­tion­al to the prod­uct of den­si­ty and tem­per­a­ture. Forc­ing her fold­ed tongue inside the bot­tle open­ing, Paula sucked out the air, pro­duc­ing pres­sure inside the bot­tle. Cre­at­ing a seal, the inside pres­sure dropped to below the atmos­pher­ic pres­sure, thus, cre­at­ing a vac­u­um.

I heard the com­mo­tion in the kitchen and ran in to see Paula stand­ing in the mid­dle of the room clutch­ing a coke bot­tle con­nect­ed to her dis­tend­ed pur­ple tongue. She appeared to be in a pan­ic state, her eyes were bulging; she was very sweaty and mum­bling, mak­ing inco­her­ent ani­mal-like sounds. I stepped behind the safe­ty of gath­ered sib­lings when I saw Miss Lil­ly rush into the room, via the back door.

Good Lord, Jesus!” she drawled before flick­ing her cig­a­rette deft­ly into the near­by sink.

Uhhn­ngawww,” Paula moaned.

Get me a ham­mer and a tow­el!” Lil­ly ordered.

A minute lat­er, Paula was on her knees, her head wrapped tight­ly in a tow­el lying across the hard­wood chair seat. Lil­ly stood with her back fac­ing me, her fist around a ham­mer sway­ing by her side. The scene remind­ed me of an exe­cu­tion­er at a behead­ing. I could see that Paula’s blue tongue and coke bot­tle were exposed on the chair’s seat.

Ready girl? I’m gonna count to three,” Lil­ly said. “One…”


The bot­tle explod­ed into a car­bon­at­ed con­coc­tion of caramelized bev­er­age and shards of green glass.

Two, three,” Lil­ly con­tin­ued, then laughed.

Paula, although trau­ma­tized, emerged unscathed and was tru­ly grate­ful for the neighbor’s quick think­ing and ham­mer skills. Lil­ly didn’t stick around and left shak­ing her head.

I guess we were a bunch of dumb ass­es! We Adams have a his­to­ry of stu­pid­i­ty involv­ing ori­fices that defies human log­ic.

One time, my broth­er Joe got a mar­ble stuck up his ass after fill­ing the bot­tom of one of those huge cast iron claw foot tubs with mar­bles. He rolled back and forth for a ride and some­how lodged one of the glass spheres into his rec­tum.

Years lat­er, dur­ing sum­mer break, when I was in high school, I mowed acres and acres of lawn at Wild­wood Ceme­tery in Williamsport. Dur­ing a lunch break, I got high with a friend. I can’t explain, except to say it just hap­pened, but I man­aged to get an acorn stuck in my ear. It was ago­niz­ing as my stoned co-work­er tried unsuc­cess­ful­ly to pry it out with var­i­ous sized sticks. Resort­ing to a pock­etknife, he par­tial­ly skewed the thing and flung it out.

In the late sev­en­ties, my sis­ter Karen became an RN. She was ordered to give an elder­ly patient an ene­ma. The old man was embar­rassed about the pro­ce­dure and talked my sis­ter into let­ting him do it him­self. Hav­ing had them before, he would do it if that would be OK. Karen, God bless her heart, left the room and the man to his pri­va­cy. Return­ing five min­utes lat­er, she found the man cov­ered with sheets, fac­ing away from her. To their mutu­al hor­ror, things had gone ter­ri­bly awry. The old man had been suc­cess­ful with the ene­ma bit, but had for­got­ten to take the cap off and shot it inside! Much worse than remov­ing an acorn, Karen spent ten min­utes dig­ging the cap out from the man’s but­tocks.

If we learned from our stu­pid mis­takes, I guess we’d all qual­i­fy as genius­es.