The Tack Story

0px 5px 5px 0px” /> Everyone who knows Brian Shafer is aware that once upon a time he was one of the best “runners” in all of high school sports.  Then in college he became even better.  Second place in all of New England I believe. We also know Brian didn’t run for fame, fortune, or glory.  He ran to get a FREE college education.  However one afternoon, during our senior year of high school, Myself, Aaron and Joe almost ruined Brian’s running career.  At least according to Aaron’s mom anyway.  Ladies and Gentlemen, The Tack Story:

Myself and Joe were at Aaron’s house, hangin in his room watching TV.  The phone rang, it was Brian.  He was on his way over.  As Aaron hung up the phone my attention was focused on a box of thumb tacks that were on Aaron’s bureau.  Not really sure if I was serious or not I said “Hey, why don’t we spread the thumb tacks over the floor, so when Brian comes in he’ll step on ’em” Joe and Aaron looked at me as if I was a bit crazy.  Then before I could say “just kidding” Joe and Aaron sprung into action.

Thumbtacks Aaron grabbed the thumb tacks and immediately began to sprinkle them all over the floor.  After the box was emptied there lay a huge pile of tacks right in front of the bedroom door.  I would say roughly 50 tacks lay sharp side up, ready to do some damage.  Then Joe had an epiphany: “Wait, when he steps on the tacks, he’s gonna immediately jump.  Let’s make 2 piles, so when he jumps outta one, he lands in the other!”  Before I could comment on the pure genius of this statement Joe and Aaron were back to work.

The_munch_box Some images in your memory are forever burned there.  Never to be taken away.  I can honestly say that the image of Joe and Aaron on their bellies, carefully placing the thumb tacks into 2 equal piles is permanently engraved in mine.  I believe they even argued over the placement a few times, “No wait, if he jumps this way he’ll land here, but if he jumps off this foot, which he most likely will cuz he’s right footed, then he’ll undoubtedly land here!” After about 15 minutes, the placement of the tacks was agreed upon.  The trap was set.  Now we just had to wait for the victim. Joe and I sat on Aaron’s bed.  Aaron sat at his desk. After about 10 minutes of unbearable anticipation the doorbell rang!!

“Come in!” Aaron’s mom shrieked from downstairs.  The door opened and we could barely contain our laughter when we heard Brian’s voice say “Hello” to Aaron’s mom.  It was in this instant that Aaron said one of the most brilliant things I’ve ever heard anyone I know say, “Brian, take your shoes off!”  Of course, how could we have been so stupid!  What if he came upstairs with his sneakers on. The scheme would have been ruined.  It was winter and slushy, so the statement to take off your shoes was an obvious one.  But it needed to be said.  Everything was perfect as Brian began to make his way up the stairs.  Except for one small detail.  Joe immediately dimmed Aaron’s lights.  Just in case Brian was looking at the ground.

As Brian entered Aaron’s room I literally thought I’d explode with excitement.  The door slowly opened and he walked in.  “What’s up?” he said as he took his first step. I swear I heard Joe grimace in pity.  But there was no reaction from Brian.  He took another step…..and then he stopped cold. He opened is mouth and a long slow “AAAAH!’ came out.  He immediately looked down and saw the tack pile he was standing in.  And then in a perfectly timed leap of predictability, Brian jumped from the pile of tacks….and landed…..directly in the 2nd pile.  “Pure Genius” was the phrase that ran through my mind.

Aaron, Joe and I, winced at the sight of it.  But like a car crash we couldn’t stop watching. As Brian landed in the second pile he screamed louder.  This time his cries were not only filled with pain, but there was anger in there as well. Instinctively Brian immedietly reached for his wounded foot. In this motion he lost his balance, wobbled a bit, and crashed to the bedroom floor.  We erupted in laughter.

The thud of Brian’s fall, as well as our unusually loud laughing caused Aaron’s mother to come running up the stairs.  She flung the door open and flicked on the lights. “What the hell is going on up here?”  What a site she walked into.  She noticed Joe, Aaron, and I,out of breath and beat red from laughing so hard.  Her attention immediately focused on Brian. He was sitting on the floor, surrounded by thumb tacks, silently picking them out of his feet.

Aaron’s mom erupted. “Are you guys fucking crazy! He’s a RUNNER for Christ Sakes!!” To this day that statement is still strangely amusing to me.  Was she mad because we hurt Brian or was she mad that we hurt someone who was an all star athlete?  For some reason If I was the one sitting there on the floor picking tacks outta my feet, I don’t think she would had quite the same reaction.

After about 5 minutes of screaming and hollering, Aaron’s mom finally left the room.  By the time she left, Brian had just about gotten all the tacks outta his feet.  All that remained was a pattern of tiny red dots covering the bottom of his white sock where the tacks had pierced the skin and the blood had soaked through.

Ooze These days when Red Sox fans, and baseball fans alike talk about “The bloody sock” people think of Curt Schilling and how he pitched the biggest game of his life while bleeding from the ankle. Not me! When sports fans bring up a “bloody sock” I think of Brian Shafer, Litchfield High School All Star Runner, sitting on Aaron’s bedroom floor picking thumbtacks outta his fast, graceful, All-Star feet.


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