We all know that cactuses are prickly but as a child I learned through firsthand experience just how prickly their prickles are, especially if they get you in an area that’s, uh…tender.
When I was seven years old I had a cactus of my own. I don’t remember how I obtained this cactus but if I had to guess I’d say my father gave it to me. He had a green thumb as well as a tendency to give strange gifts. Some of the pets I kept in my room did not fare so well but this cactus seemed to do okay. I kept it on my windowsill so that it would get plenty of sunlight and I watered it occasionally. To the extent that it’s possible for a cactus to be happy and to the extent that it was a possible for a child as prickly as me to be happy, I’d say my cactus and I were happy with each other.
Then disaster struck.
You know that nursery rhyme about the little monkeys jumping on the bed? I was familiar with that nursery rhyme as a kid but I did not appreciate it for the cautionary tale that it was and the consequences I suffered as a result of my foolishness were far more unfortunate than a bumped head. Ultimately it was more humorous than it was tragic though.
I’m not sure if those monkeys were clothed when they jumped on the bed but since they were monkeys it didn’t really matter. I, who was often more monkey-like than human-like, was jumping on the bed in my underwear. I’m not sure how to explain what happened next or if it even can be explained by the laws of gravity or physics but I’ve always been a klutz with a talent for injuring myself in bizarre ways.
Something went wrong on one of my jumps and I ended up falling off my bed and crashing on to my windowsill. Crashing in to a windowsill could have been painful on its own but do you remember what was on my windowsill? My cactus.
My underwear ( which never tends to fit me well to begin with) slipped down during my ill-fated jump, allowing my bare butt to make contact with the cactus. Suddenly my rear end was on fire with a thousand pricks. I cried bloody murder.
My mother came dashing in to the room, her eyes wide with alarm and her voice filled with concern.
I..I…sat on the cactus!”
“You… you.. what??!”
I pointed to the cactus on the floor with it’s cracked pot and scattered soil. Then I turned around to reveal a butt that must have resembled a porcupine’s.
“How…how did you do that?’
“I was jumping on the bed..and..I fell and hit the cactus!’
“You shouldn’t have been jumping on the bed. ”
“Ok..um..we’re going to have to take those cactus needles off of you”
“No, that will make it hurt more!”
“Well, we can’t just leave them in your butt!’
“I hate this!”
“I know you do. Come here.”
“This isn’t funny!”
“I know it’s not funny.”
“Then why are you laughing?’
“It’s just.. hold on, let me get your father.”
Upon examination of my butt, my father determined that those cactus needles were wedged in pretty deeply and tweezers would be needed to get them out. He returned with tweezers and set to work on my butt as my mom held me. My parents knew I was in pain and embarrassed so they tried to be kind and sympathetic but they couldn’t help but crack a few smiles and let out a few chuckles.
I can’t say I blame them. It was funny. All these years later it makes for an entertaining story. How many people can say they sat on a cactus?
I don’t remember what became of that cactus after all its needles had been removed from my butt but I’m guessing I removed it from my windowsill and looked on it less fondly.
A few months ago while on a walk I came across a giant cloth cactus that a neighbor had left by the curb. I hadn’t had a cactus since the butt pricking one I had as a child but I was intrigued by this cloth cactus that I knew would be much softer on my rear end should worst come to worst. I considered taking it home. My mom said to forget about it. It could be infested with fleas, cockroaches or god knows what else. I knew she was right. It wasn’t worth the risk and that incident with the butt pricking cactus was enough for me. I’m set for life in terms of bad cactus experiences.