As a person who has lived five decades, I often lament the fact that I am not as smart as I knew I was when I was a teenager. Today I understand that I am not the brightest tool in the drawer. It took years of experience to undertand the limitations of my intellect.

Illiteracy was not my problem.

My family visited relatives on my father’s side of the family tree one summer when I was twelve years old. Born in southern California and living there and in North Chicago and in Iceland, I knew at the intellectual level what a farm was. Never had I seen one in application. Here we were in the hills of Kentucky, catching lightning bugs for the very first time and putting them in canning jars.

Across the road from my aunt and uncle’s place stood a horse. It seemed placid enough, content to just mill about inside a small area bound by a single thin wire. I decided to wander down the hill, cross the rural highway, and visit this regal animal. Not a problem Down the hill I ran and across the road.

I do remember not barrelling thorugh the fence and running up to the horse. I at least stopped and tried to understand how such a little wire could prevent such a big animal from going where it wanted to. No reason came to mind. Training? It must have been.

Myriad thoughts ran through my mind. What magic existed in this wire to keep the horse corralled? Can you really train a horse that well? Was there a force field I couldn’t see?

Only one way to find out. Yes. I touched the wire. Next thing I know, someone is beating me on every square inch of my body with a baseball bat. By this point in my life, I had already been in several fights. At no point have I ever received a beating like I did when I touched the wire.

I looked around. What was that? Was there someone hiding in the bushes shooting me with a pain ray if something touched the wire?

Only one way to find out. Yes. I grabbed the wire again. Here came the baseball bat. It drove me to my knees. Every bone and each muscle in my body ached like it never had before. I wanted to cry. I wanted to run into the comforting arms of my mother. But I couldn’t let my tougher farm cousins see me so weak.

I wondered back across the road and up the hillside, giving myself a chance to gather my wits and try to work the aches and pains out. Halfway up the hill, I saw my father and his brother-in-law standing on the porch wearing broad grins across their faces.

My father nodded down across the road. “So how’d that feel?”