Heads up!

Psychologists call it one-trial learning. You burn your hand on a stove and, bingo, you’ve learned a lifelong lesson. No need to keep repeating it for reinforcement.
Makes sense, right? Except when it doesn’t work.
And it doesn’t work a lot.
I have the aching head to prove it. Along with a bruise reminiscent of that birthmark on the forehead of Mikhail Gorbachev. Only mine is a little higher on my noggin.
We’re in the midst of the heart-wrenching task of cleaning out the home where by aunt and uncle lived their entire lives until each passed this year. They were brother and sister and because neither married, they remained in the homestead.
You accumulate a lot of stuff over nine decades (my aunt was 91, my uncle 87) and much of it, I am sure they’d agree, was not worth saving. Nevertheless.
The basement, best described as an old-fashioned cellar, was the worst. We filled an entire dumpster with junk much of which reminded me of a short story I read in college in which the narrator, cleaning out his dad’s basement, found a jar labeled, “Pieces of string too short to save.” The jar was filled.
My nephew was already on the job when I arrived Tuesday morning and promptly warned me to watch my head on the doorway. Now you see where the fallacy of one-trial learning comes in.
Four times I slammed by head into that door frame. Four times!
And by slammed, I mean SLAMMED. The last one my wife swore shook the whole building.
If I were in the NFL, I would immediately have been placed on concussion protocol.
I want to say if it weren’t so serious it would have been funny, but the truth is it was funny despite being serious. I could almost hear my late uncle laughing, having, no doubt, banged his own dome a time or ten exiting that dungeon.
The bright side is neither of us will ever do it again.

Ed Ackerman