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If I say "Food fight." you may think of Animal House.

I think of my mother.

I am in high school in Alexandria, Virginia. My sister is three years younger. We are in the kitchen, it is hot. 99 degrees F and 98 percent humidity and the back door is open. We do not have air conditioning. We are eating watermelon. The old kind: with seeds.

My mother holds up a seed, pinched between her fingers, looking wicked.

My eyes narrow. "If you shoot that, you started it." .... not in the house, is the unspoken rule that echoes.

She shoots it at me.

We all three start pinching the slick black watermelon pits at each other, laughing like hyenas. In a large kitchen with open shelves and dishes placed on all the shelves, often nested. It devolves into small chunks of watermelon, hurled at each other. No rinds, because of the open shelves. At last we all run out of pits and watermelon and stop.

There is silence while we survey the very impressive mess. There are watermelon seeds everywhere. And the floor is pretty wet.

Watermelon is STICKY.

We laugh more and start cleaning up. I leave for work or school or something.

Later my mother says, "I washed the floor three times before it stopped feeling sticky. And I kept finding watermelon seeds in the dishes on the shelves for the next two years."

And: "It was worth it."

BQ 242

The preceding dredged up a similar memory from my own childhood. I was eleven or twelve, and my family had just purchased a new set of dishes. For some bizarre reason it was decided to break all the old ones. The first I knew of it was walking into the kitchen and having a plate tossed to me, which of course I promptly fumbled and dropped. It shattered on the linoleum and theyall laughed like hyenas. We spent the evening throwing plates, bowls and cups back and forth and dropping them; sometimes on purpose, sometimes from laughing too much.

You'd think this would be a happy memory of a family having innocent fun, but truth to tell the recollection is an uncomfortable one, and I haven't thought about it for all of my adult life till now. Children are in essence primitive creatures, and in primitive societies the Clown is a creature of nightmare, the ghostly figure who breaks all the rules and whose behavior is therefore unpredictable and frightening. I remember my family as straight-laced and repressed for the most part-it was the fifties, after all- and the occasional outbreaks had an air of hysteria.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dancing_Plague_of_1518 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Claude_L%C3%A9vi-Strauss

Breaking your own rules assumes you have them, to start with. This is generally a good idea, but they might be imperfect, born out of fears, biases and incomplete information, and so rules should be revised every now and then. The only way I know for sure is to use what you know and test if the rules survive your adventures. Many of my childhood rules have been broken and replaced this way. A few others have withstood everything I throw at them and so are becoming more and more integral to my life.

BQ2016: 230 words

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