I Almost Blinded Myself with Science


I promise I’ll cool it on the retro song references for a bit after this one. Well, maybe. Actually, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll give up my geekdom anytime soon. Sorry.

I won a reading contest at my small town library in the summer between kindergarten and first grade. Apparently, as an avid reader, I swept the competition, which counted the number of pages read, because the other kids were reading Robert Munsch and Mercer Meyer, and this curly-headed child was ploughing through novels. Oops. I guess pure nerd pumped through my veins even when I was playing on the jungle gym.

Part of my prize from this contest was a children’s science book published by Owl magazine. Does anyone else remember Owl? It made me so happy because it featured articles about science and other things to feed my brain. I learned about dinosaurs, photosynthesis, and acids and bases, among other things.

The section about acids and bases stands out in my mind because it discussed soda pop. It was like the vast secrets of the universe were being revealed a page at a time, and the miracle of carbonation simply dazzled me.

Those folks at Owl, bless them, also included step-by-step instructions for me to make my own orange pop at home: at my actual house! The scene played out before me. I would be a legend on the playground, creating fizzy drinks from simple lunchbox contents. Children would flock to my corner of the sandbox to have their juices converted from the mundane to the extraordinary by my magical hands, complete with embarrassingly bitten fingernails.

The instructions called for a tall glass, some baking soda, and orange juice. My momma always made sure we had real fruit juice to drink with breakfast, and I waited anxiously for orange juice to come up in the rotation. I considered myself especially lucky that the next orange juice to be opened was the pulpy kind, which was as close to Booster Juice as we got in 1989. Carbonated pulpy orange juice? Yes, pretty please.

My book advised me that the path to bubbly bliss involved simply adding half a spoonful of baking soda to the glass of orange juice, stirring gently, and letting the magic happen. I did exactly as I was told, and there was no magic. What resulted from following the directions exactly was orange juice that tasted a little off and felt a little fluffy on my tongue.

Never one to succumb to bitter despair, I came up with a better plan. Logic suggested that if a tiny bit of baking soda made a tiny bit of fizz when stirred, then I could create a great deal of fizz by adding a lot of baking soda to my orange juice and shaking it like mad.

I found my momma’s Tupperware gravy shaker, or whatever the heck silly name the Tupperware people actually call it, and set to work. I filled it two thirds of the way up with orange juice, and dumped in a good handful of baking soda. Excitedly, I slapped the lid on that Tupperware whatchacallit, and started to shake. Actually, I jumped up and down. I shook that thing hard enough to crush the pulp within and shook my skinny little kid butt at the same time.

Then I almost died. Well, not really. I almost died when my momma came in after what happened next.

My orange juice “pop” popped. No, it didn’t. My orange juice “pop” exploded. The plastic Tupperware lid rocketed skyward on a jet of foam and vitamin C, bouncing off the kitchen ceiling and leaving a splatter pattern to rival any episode of CSI Miami. The little spoked Tupperware insert that was meant to break up the clumps in the gravy landed somewhere in the living room. Pulp dripped from my eyelashes. Pulp dripped from my chin. Pulp clumped on the fridge, on the ceiling, and all over the closest wall. Pulp spattered the classic car calendar, trapping the driver of that beautiful gleaming automobile in sudden storm of crushed and bubbling fruit bits. Wherever it landed, the pulp fizzed and boiled. Clearly, the orange juice was enraged.

My mother, hearing the bang and fearing I’d somehow killed myself with simple household goods, rushed into the house from whatever she was doing in the yard. Imagine my poor little momma, running fearfully into her formerly tidy kitchen, encountering the Minute Maid Monster, violently afoam. She stood there a moment or two, relieved to find me alive and disappointed that now she would have to kill me herself.

Momma spent countless hours scrubbing pulp off every surface of her kitchen and several parts of her livingroom. She didn’t let me help, and it wasn’t until much later that I realized she cleaned it up herself for my own safety. Man, was Momma perturbed.

I bet they always figured my brother would be the first one to blow something up. Go, science!

copyright 2011:  http//bluespeckledpup.com

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