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  • Writer's pictureLacy Starling

#41: No Means No

Yesterday, I wrote about turning 40. What I didn't tell you is how my birthday night ended. I spent the end of my 40th birthday with my hand in a bag of ice because I got pressured into doing something stupid. Over my repeated objections, both at the time and in advance. Here's what happened:

My daughter brought home dozens of boxes of sparklers from her father's 4th of July party, and we hadn't done anything with them. My mother became fixated on the idea of setting them off the night of my birthday. I didn't really want to, but I figured Catherine could hold one or two and we could take some pictures or whatever, no big deal. Instead, my mother asked my brother to bring over his PROPANE TORCH so we could light a whole bunch of them, and then got the idea that we should light 41 of them at once for the ultimate photo opp.

I told her I didn't want to, and we went to dinner, had a lovely time, etc. and I thought the issue was dropped. After dinner, however, on the patio, my mom brought out the sparklers and started in on her plan again, except this time, she wanted me to HOLD 41 sparklers while Levi lit them with his propane torch. Again I said no, repeatedly, but she persisted. Then, Brian (who makes his living drawing WITH HIS HANDS), said he'd do it and I couldn't let that happen, so I gave in.

I think you know how this ends.

Forty-one sparklers bundled together and lit with a propane torch become a weapons-grade incendiary device. From the time Levi lit them, I had exactly one nanosecond before they burned down to my fingers. Sparklers burn at 1200 degrees, so it hurt. A lot. I'm typing this blog, in fact, with about 17 Band-Aids on my hands, covering giant blisters and charred flesh. I couldn't sleep that night because my hands hurt so badly. It was awful. All for something that I'd said repeatedly I didn't want to do.

The moral of the story here, is that no means no, people. My mother shouldn't have kept persisting in getting someone to hold 41 sparklers at once. She obviously had no idea how badly I would get burned, but the risk existed, which is why I didn't want anyone doing it. And the other guests should have probably stuck up for me a little instead of volunteering to do it themselves (cough, Brian, cough cough.) But mostly, I should have not tried to make the situation less awkward by sticking to my guns. I knew it was a terrible idea and I did it anyhow because I was embarrassed that it had turned into a thing in front of guests.

My only hope is that I can carry this lesson with me into the next decade of my life. If something sounds like a terrible idea, don't do it. No matter who suggests it or how awkward it gets. Just say no. And respect when other people say no to things. No one should feel pressured into something they don't want to do, for safety or ANY OTHER REASON AT ALL.

Now, I'm going to go eat some ibuprofen and practice typing with my left hand only.


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