You might remember me talking about my undying need to prove myself via arbitrary rewards and I thought of another story in that same vein.
Maybe a few stories. Anyhow, I think this need is part of a larger picture - a blend of stubbornness and a ridiculous competitive streak.
For example, when I was in physics in high school, I had a pretty awesome teacher for half the year. This teacher balanced delicately between nerd and punk. Maybe mostly nerd and unintentional punk would be a better description. Regardless, his class was fun to go to and the experiments he had us do were always something amusing.
One day - I think it was around November because I was wearing this vivid pink sweater - I walked into the classroom for some first period physics and saw something that made my morning. There, in front of the lab section of the room was a large bed of nails on top of one of the lab tables. Without knowing it, my new goal in life (ok, for the morning anyhow) was to get to lie down on this uninviting surface.
|It's like a TempurPedic except the exact opposite.|
The chance came near the end of class. After a lecture that probably had something to do with why the nails wouldn't stab you if you were careful, the teacher called for any volunteers to give it a try.
I won't lie; my hand was in the air before he got his sentence out. No one else put their hand up. Some of the girls even looked apprehensive about the whole event.
"Danielle," my teacher said, looking at me - and my bright pink fluffy sweater, "I'd be afraid that your sweater would get caught."
My sweater was the least of my worries and I was very thankful that I had worn a t-shirt underneath because as he finished speaking, I called out, "No, I still want to try." I pulled off my sweater, ignored the way it messed up my ponytail and practically stood out of my seat. "Let me try!"
I knew that once someone went, more people would start volunteering and some part of my brain told me that if I didn't go first, other people might think that I was a copy cat.
The actual experience of lying down on a bed of nails is nothing very exciting. For boring reasons, there is not much chance of hurting yourself unless you sit up too fast or roll on your side or press your hand against a nail. It was almost like a bit of a massage.
It was awesome.
As predicted, many more people raised their hand and wanted to try it and I felt proud of myself for leading the way.
And now, looking back at it, I see the ridiculousness of it all.
But that didn't stop me several years ago when, in high school (of course) biology class, our project was breeding fruit flies with specific traits. If you've ever bred fruit flies or had fruit flies in class for whatever reason, you'll remember that they are typically kept in tubes with an oatmeal based food product (usually dyed a fantastic blue to provide a color contrast against which to easily view the flying bugs).
|Pictured: Food-like substance. Kind of.|
One day, after introducing new flies from one tube to new flies from another tube, we each had a fruit fly tube full of dead flies and fly food to clean out. The guys at the lab table behind me were daring one another to try the food.
"I'll give you twenty bucks," one said.
The other shook his head. "No way."
"I'll throw in five," said another.
This seemed to bring the pot to a number more suited to the one guy eating stale fly food and spurred my ridiculous competitive nature.
I turned to them and said, "Hey. Why waste your money on him? I'll do it for 10 bucks."
They looked at me like I was crazy and my lab partner looked at me like I was crazy. I shrugged. Ten dollars is ten dollars, I figured.
Sadly, the guys did not take me up on my offer. As far as I know, they did not end up paying the other guy to eat any either and this satisfied me; I felt as though I had accomplished a grand task.
Again, looking back, I'm not sure what the hell was (...is) wrong with me.