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Between a Rock and a Dash of Vinegar This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Gilford, NH
They say you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar, but I knew better. As much as my parents tried to coat my world with honey and shield me from the vinegar, I knew even at an early age, which one always came out on top. Now I wouldn’t say I was a bad egg; I didn’t want to take over the world but rather to take it on full force. At seven years old I had developed a mentality not of blind trust to the adult figure, but instead a determination to discover life for myself. Call it curiosity. I didn’t care where it led me, whether it was some place good or bad, just as long as I got there-by any means necessary. I would later interpret my so-called “curiosity” as just stubborn stupidity, which sadly I would not outgrow for a long time. That summer however, my inquisitiveness quickly turned into manipulation as the bitterness of vinegar kicked in.

My parents loved to take my brother and I on road trips, which was more for their benefit then for ours in fact. You see they treasured traveling, but they had kids before they could finish seeing the world. They waited a couple years for us to shed our cocoons then dragged us along to all the historical places still on their bucket lists. The two of us hated having to “learn” over the summer and with each ancient monument the whining and sulking tripled. One year, the destination was the Grand Canyon; Parker and I were less than excited. When we arrived I looked at the striking landscape, but my feeble mind couldn’t comprehend its beauty and it didn’t hold my attention for long. My brother and I were standing just over the rocky terrain, our sneakers scratching the floor of glittering pebbles, when the radiance from the rocks (or perhaps the heat of that day) sparked an idea in me.

Yet, I didn’t want to be the one to execute this magnificent idea, I would get into trouble; as much as I didn’t trust adults I feared them all the same. I would need a guinea pig only more naïve, a fly perhaps. I grinned from ear to ear then turned to my brother. Age I found had nothing to do with intelligence; even though he was older, Parker was going through his awkward phase in life and was slightly bumbling at the time. I decided to take a leaf out of A Christmas Story and ‘tripled dog dared’ my brother to fling a rock over the edge of the Grand Canyon. Not a huge one, just big enough to watch it cast a ripple into the painting of the national park. He scratched his head and bit his lip in thought. I sighed; my parents’ backs would only be turned for so long, it was time to put words into actions. “Just do it” I hissed, “oh wait you won’t you know why because you’re a big, fat, gruntle!” That crossed the line; his cheeks flared up in defiance. ‘Gruntle’ was our family’s word for poop. It had been for as long as I could remember, and it was the ultimate insult between the two of us. Much later I found out that the word ‘gruntle’ refers to the nostrils of a pig and my wacky aunt thought it sounded like a synonym for ‘poop’ and that definition stuck with us kids.

Nevertheless, I had whipped out my most venomous vial of vinegar.

Backed into a corner with his dignity balanced on the edge of a knife, Parker picked up a rock and hurled it into the atmosphere overlaying the Grand Canyon. The exhilaration and delight faded as quickly as the rock did from sight however. A park ranger appeared out of nowhere dragged us away from the cliff’s edge. He barked so loudly at Parker it felt like the very earth quaked and shaked from the vibrations of his voice. “YOU COULD HAVE HIT SOMEBODY, PEOPLE COULD HAVE DIED AND IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ON YOUR CONSCIENCE!” My parents came bustling over just as the purple vein in his temple was about to burst. They reasoned with him by spitting out the usual clichés, “He’s just a kid! He didn’t know any better,” and like the first-class ranger he was, he put a hand to his ear and replied “Well, I don’t hear any screams so I think everyone’s ok,” and he cut Parker some slack.

We hiked up and down the Grand Canyon after that which I figured was our punishment, until we got back to our motel and my father pulled me aside. “Look” he rumbled, “I know it was you who put him up to that and you seriously embarrassed Mom and I. Be careful of the toes you step on today Mary, because they might be connected to the foot that kicks your ass tomorrow!” I met his gaze with serenity but inside I was quivering like a puppy with its tail between its legs and uttered a barely audible “ok.”

My gift for persuasion sent me on many routes during my childhood; some with rewards others with retributions. Whatever hand curiosity dealt me I attempted to use to my advantage. For a long time I had my bread and butter with vinegar in between, that is until I reached an age where I began to bite off more than I could chew. Call it maturity (although I sincerely doubt that was case) but I learned manipulation was not a good method of practice. Today I work at spreading honey in general, for a much sweeter taste. Even my family has noticed the change in me, for not too long ago my mother said to me, “close your mouth honey, you’ll attract flies.”





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