The following won second place in the Expository/Argumentative Essay division of the Walter Spara Writing Contest sponsored by the Department of English and Communications in the spring semester, 2012.
by Elise Gerard
“I wonder what’ll happen if I do this.” I thought to myself as I held a large, pink can of hairspray in my left hand and a lighter in my right hand. “I’ve seen people do it in the movies; I wonder if it’ll really work. Well, I guess there’s only one way to find out.” As my right thumb flicked on the tiny orange flame, my left hand began to spray. In mere seconds, a great fiery ball had engulfed my left hand in flames. This was to be the first of many instances where curiosity had gotten the best of me.
For my entire life I have possessed a somewhat curious nature. I first began to develop this curious nature when I was in middle school. It was a time when I wanted to know everything. “How does this work? What does that do? What would happen if I do this?”-these were the typical questions I would ask whenever my curiosity reared its ugly head. If I was unable to obtain an answer, or if I didn’t feel that the answer I was given was sufficient, I would usually resort to experimentation.
When I turned the ripe old age of nine my curiosity had begun to reach dangerous levels, even to the point of where it became deadly. “Mom, can cats fly?” was my fateful question. My mother, clearly just humoring my rampant curiosity replied, “Of course they can dear, but they prefer to walk because they get airsick.” I looked at her with an image of satisfaction about her reply and said, “Ok.” Grinning broadly as I then proceeded to go outside. Once encompassed by the great outdoors my search began. “Sylvester! Here kitty, kitty, kitty!” One of our many cats was comfortably lying in our flowerbed soaking up the sunlight. “There you are kitty, c’mon now time to fly.” I scooped him up in my arms and carried him over to our barn and up the inner ladder to the hay loft. Once we had arrived I opened up a nearby window and placed Sylvester on the sill, waiting for something to happen. “Go on kitty, time to fly.” I waited and waited, but nothing happened. When I had finally grown impatient I grasped Sylvester around his middle and heaved him out the window. Needless to say this plan didn’t exactly work the way I thought it would, and my curiosity quite literally killed the cat.
By the time I was in ninth grade my curiosity had somewhat dwindled, but had not been completely extinguished. At the age of fourteen my curiosity had moved on to a more sophisticated level, in that I was now curious about more high-tech things, more specifically, electricity. One glorious day, as I was sitting in study hall and had just finished all of my homework, I realized that I had a whole half an hour to kill before I could leave and all I had to entertain myself with was a pen and a few paperclips. My mind began racing when my eyes finally fell upon an electrical outlet in the wall to the right of my desk. “I wonder what would happen if I stuck my paperclip in there. Only one way to find out.” I carefully unwound my paperclip and formed it into a horseshoe shape so that I could place each end into the separate holes at the same time. No sooner had the paperclip entered the holes when there was a loud CRRACK! The lights in my homeroom shorted out and a bright green spark erupted from the socket sending a violent shock up my entire left arm, and causing me to fly three feet from my chair. After my teacher and fellow classmates had gotten over the initial “shock” of what had happened, I became the laughing stock of my entire high school.
Electricity seemed to be the focal point of my curiosity all throughout high school. After the incident with the electrical outlet, I became a little more cautious when dealing with such highly dangerous equipment, but unfortunately not cautious enough. Not too long after my first “shocking” experience, I went over to my friend Chelsea’s house. Chelsea lived on a farm called Aggravation Acres where they had many horses, cows, sheep, goats, and all varieties of animals. Naturally, in order to keep these animals from escaping Chelsea’s parents had installed an electric fence around their property. Well, Chelsea and I had decided that we would go outside and play soccer for a while. When we arrived to our playing area we happened upon the electrical fence with a large yellow sign on it which read: “Caution: Electrified fence, 20,000 volts, keep away!” At this point I don’t really know why I didn’t comprehend this warning, but the words just didn’t seem to get through to my brain. Once again, the fateful thought arose, “I wonder….” I reached up and grabbed hold of the fence with my left hand which instantly felt as though it went numb. Luckily Chelsea’s parents had not set the fence to its highest setting and I only received a mild shock.
Now that I am nineteen years old I have finally learned to tune out that curious, little voice inside my head that asks so many questions. Although there are still things that I am curious about, I have learned to control my actions. Whenever my mind starts racing and I feel the urge to experiment, I merely consider the consequences before I let my curiosity get the best of me.