Prescription for Disaster

Monday, 14 July 2014

The Taser Incident

I met my step-sister Christine when I was 12 and we positively loathed each other.

To be fair we were exactly the same age and were suddenly mashed together into the same house in the same bedroom in the same school in the same grade and with the same friends.
As it turned out, I had a twin in Christine. Her humor, her laughter, her magnetism for disaster and mayhem was exactly like mine. We competed with each other constantly. 

We were nerds together (summers spent having RL Stine novel speed reading competitions in a tent in the backyard. We weren’t allowed to live in the house in summer).

We were idiots together (who can make it across the river on foot in late Spring first? We both nearly drowned).

We were terrified together (chased into traffic by a rabid squirrel, and there was always the ‘tent incident’)

and we were social outcasts together (there may have been a skunk incident in junior high).

So when I up and decided to randomly move to China at the age of 20 there was nobody in the world I would have rather come with me.

And so, together, Christine and I moved to China.

We are both the type that strange things just happen to, always have been. We had so many adventures in China together and afterward when she had left (China pretty much gave her the boot), more than enough to fill my next book.

We were living in Shenyang, Liaoning (up by North Korea) back in 2001. At the time it was a city of 13 million people and only 900 foreigners – 750 of those being from Korea. So the rest of us stood out quite a bit and more or less stuck together. Back then there was a single foreigner bar in Shenyang (Sophie’s) and although Christine spent a lot of evenings there I couldn’t really go because, well, I employed more than half of their western clientele (long, weird story) which made it awkward as well. Trust me, the boss wants even less to drink with their employees as the employees want to drink with their boss.

Anyway, Christine used to go to the expat bar in the evenings pretty often, as you do in China, as there was absolutely nothing else to do, and some of the guys there were worried about her walking home at night by herself or taking taxis alone so late at night. Being not gentlemanly enough to walk her home but gentlemanly enough to care they did the next best thing and bought her a police grade taser gun.

It was a little purse sized, hand-held taser in which you push a button and blue lightning arcs out, dancing back and forth between the protruding metal nodes on the top. Being China these weren't exactly common, but you could pick it up at the same store that you could buy police vests, helmets and cherry lights for your car.

I miss China. 

Anyway, she had come home to our apartment late one night, having had a bit to drink and was hanging out in her room about to have a cigarette, but couldn't find a lighter.

I’ll give you a minute to guess where this is going.

She searched everywhere until she fumbled upon the taser in her purse, taking it out and giving it a good look. The lightning was electricity, surely that would light a cigarette? Now, having had a bit to drink certainly helped her extreme lack of judgment, but her just being her is what led her to PUT THE CIGARETTE IN HER MOUTH and then try to light it with the taser like you would a standard lighter. 

She claims that she woke up on the other side of the room having effectively tasered herself in the face.

Now, the instructions (once translated) explain that a one second pulse is all that is required to bring an assailant to their knees. A two second pulse and they will mostly likely wet themselves. A three second pulse and they will be rendered unconscious. It is, according to Christine’s experience, not possible to control the amount of time you are holding down the button when you are simultaneously electrocuting yourself in the face. Somehow her violent launch across the room and subsequent flopping around dislodged the taser from her grasp and it stopped, leaving her unconscious on the floor.

It gets worse. 

When she woke up SHE DID IT AGAIN, the exact same thing again, desperate for a cigarette - and this is how I came to find her upon hearing a bloodcurling scream, facedown on her bedroom floor with the room reeking of burnt hair.

I then confiscated her taser, but the adventures with it did not end there.

Years later, my husband Paul (then boyfriend), found the taser in an old box of mine at our apartment in China, long after my sister had left. I had forgotten about the thing, never having had cause to use it. He, being a typical guy, had a bit of fun lighting various things on fire with it, always being too much of a wuss to ever try it out on himself.
He did discover, though, that the taser had an additional feature he had never asked me about - a small red button down by the base.

And this is how my husband maced himself in the face by inadvertently pressing this red button while aiming the nozzle at the fan in our bedroom.

The Darwin Awards are strong in my social circle - it keeps life interesting.

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