Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Don't pet the cactus

I'm one of those people who has a really difficult time following the "look but don't touch" rule. That stove is hot? Hmm, I better test it. That ice is slippery? Let me give it a whirl. Keep fingers away from the cage? Let's see how close I can get...

So it's a bit surprising that I'm still like that, even after I had to learn my lesson the very hard (and very painful) way as a kid. 

I was 5 and in Palm Springs, CA with my family. We were out on nature walk in the desert (sounds like a riveting trip) with a big group of people, when we stopped to admire some cacti along the path. As soon as the guide explained that it was called a "Teddy Bear Cactus", I was hooked. It just looked so darn cute and cuddly sitting in the dirt, I had to touch it. I knew a cactus had painful pricklers, but I just knew the Teddy Bear one didn't have them—it looked way too soft. 

I reached out to touch it, but before I could connect, the guide stopped me and pulled my hand back. She laughed as she said, "Nope you won't want to touch those. They may look soft, but the spines are sharp. You'll get hurt."

The adults all laughed and started to walk away. I hung back a little bit and looked at my beloved cactus again. I still had to touch it. 

In one swift movement, I lowered my hand down and started petting the cactus. I didn't care that it felt a little prickly, I was just excited to touch it. When I heard my Mom call my name, I quickly jumped up. My mission was complete. 

And then my hand started throbbing.

As I looked down and saw tons and tons and tons of tiny spines sticking out my hand, I screamed bloody murder. The guide ran back over to me, knowing exactly what I had done. I was sobbing uncontrollably as she stopped the tour (sorry to everyone else, by the way) and picked every single spine out with a pair of tweezers. I screamed and screamed and screamed some more. It was excruciating. But at least I got to pet my precious cactus. Was it worth it? You bet.

And because of that, I have a  weird respect and fascination with cacti...though I'll probably never, ever touch one again. Damn you Teddy Bear Cactus, damn you.


Bayjb said...

I'm always attracted to touch things I'm told I shouldn't, cacti included. It's a silly habit I have

erin - heart in ireland said...

When I was in Arizona I also totally had to touch a cactus as well, but I didn't get hurt like that. Ouch!