Monday, May 18, 2009

A Shocking Tale...

Early in our relationship, circa 2005, Shannon and I took a weekend getaway to Dallas. We were feeling nostalgic, so we travelled over to Fair Park to visit the Dallas Acquarium and the fabulous Science Place at the Museum of Nature & Science.

The Acquarium and Science Place were engineered as prime grade-school field trip destinations. Shannon and I probably went on a dozen field trips there. I remember many a lunch out by the lagoons of Fair Park. I had my yogurt, my soggy sandwich, and my soft drink carefully wrapped in aluminum foil. 

The highlight was always the Science Place. This was a hands-on, interactive museum that had obvious appeals to kids. 

So, many years later, Shannon and I returned to play with the exhibits. We had just barely made it in the door when we ran into the first exhibit. It was a good one.

Two giant plastic cylinders, about 6 feet apart pulsed and crackled with electricity or plasma or something. When I touched the glass, the electricity would dance harmlessly behind the glass, imparting only a slight hair-raising current. It was cool.

Fatefully, I noticed a sign between the two plasma tubes, "Caution: Do Not Touch Anyone Else While Touching the Plasma Tube!" You can probably guess where this is going. I placed one hand on the cylinder and gingerly extended my right hand toward poor, unsuspecting Shannon. At about one inch of separation, a blue spark suddenly arced out and snapped into her shoulder. It stung both of us, and she shouted out in surprise. It was funny, but there was some more fun to be had here.

"Shannon, let's try something. You put your hand on that cylinder and I'll touch this one. I'll reach out and touch you. " Ah, the hubris of youth. The nostalgia and playful vibe of the Science Place must have thrown our good sense out the window. 

As before, I reached out toward Shannon with my right hand. I expected the same little shock. I was wrong. 

My fingertip neared Shannon as before, but the result was quite different. I felt a sudden pulse of energy rush through my body from the tube. It travelled through my arm, into my shoulder, across my chest, and into Shannon. The massive shock seized my muscles. I involuntarily jumped into the air with a loud grunt and grimace. 

We had created a circuit between the two plasma tubes. The electricity rocketed between the tubes, using our bodies as a conduit.. The shock only lasted a few moments, but it left my chest aching and my ears ringing. Shannon was ok. We nervously laughed and backed away from the exhibit, sure that the museum staffer seated just a few feet away had witnessed our act of monumental idiocy. I thought we were about to be ejected from the museum for our own protection. I was just glad that my heart was still beating.

We were not ejected. The rest of the day was lovely, and we heeded every warning sign we came across. 

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