(originally posted 2/2021)
Upon leaving high school I elected not to pursue a college education. Several factors influenced my decision, chief among them being my opinion that university constitutes a considerable waste of resources for those of us who are intellectually uninitiated. However I also considered the fact that my parents offer bountiful educational opportunities, occasionally even unwittingly, right here at home! Following is one such example (warning: sexual content ahead).
Around the age of 11 or 12 my grandpa gifted me a fascinating book on knot-tying, accompanied by a piece of practice rope. As I recall, the rope was about 4-feet long and perhaps 3/8-inch in diameter, just an old piece of braided polyester dock line to work on my bends, hitches and bowlines. Well you see from the time I was first potty-trained, I've enjoyed my time on the toilet. It's quality "me time," you know? Yes, of course to take care of business, but also to read and learn, to contemplate and surmise, and sometimes to practice my knot-tying skills!
Back when we lived on Wyllis street and we all used one bathroom, the toilet would service a lot of 'customers' over the span of a day and lots of reading material would come and go, sometimes accumulating in a stack on the tank lid. While both my knot-tying manual and practice rope remained in the bathroom, the book got covered up by several magazines and newspaper editions while the rope somehow found its way down beside the toilet bowl to a spot rarely graced by light.
One day as I was indulging in some cartoons on TV and mom was in the bathroom cleaning the toilet, I heard an almighty gasp that would've sent even the most cool and collected firefighter into a full-fledged panic! I ran into the bathroom to see what had startled mom so terribly and there she was holding up the rope in her hands as though she was grasping a jump rope that was too short to use.
"What is THIS?" she interrogated as she held up the evidence as a shocked parent might after finding cigarettes in a teenager's jeans pocket.
"That's my knot-tying rope papa got me for my birthday mom - wanna learn how to tie a bowline?" I asked as only an innocent 12 year old could.
"Oh, okay... I thought it was something else."
"Like what?" I asked.
Following was a lengthy conversation about the inherent dangers of autoerotic asphyxiation (a process by which a person restricts respiratory airflow in order to increase sexual pleasure during self-stimulation), complete with the tragic story of someone close to my mom who lost his life in such a manner. Although my mom quickly realized (much to her own relief) that I was nowhere near attempting such an activity myself, she spared no details in informing me of what was on her mind and why it would be such a foolish thing to do.
I'm so grateful to have a family that never wastes an opportunity to help educate and inform me, to help grow my senses of self-awareness and inquisitiveness. I may not be the next hot-shot doctor or lawyer, but even without a college degree I'm doing alright thanks to their nurturing investment of independent (read: family) education.