Just had another severe thunderstorm here in Escambia County, Florida this afternoon. We have rain every other day, and a severe thunderstorm once a week. As aforementioned, Florida is not the Sunshine State–that label is one of the biggest real-estate scams ever pulled. In fact, it is literally the Thunderstorm State–Florida receives more lightning strikes per year than any other U.S. state.
I hate rain. As a child, I loved it. Because every day, after school, my dad would force me to do meaningless yard work–as if we lived on a farm, rather than a suburban plot. And when it was raining, I didn’t have to be his farmhand–I could actually play, like the other kids. Yet now that I am no longer under his roof, this isn’t an issue. So rain (and it rains volumes here on the upper Gulf Coast) is a nuisance–as much as lightning is a threat.
But rain can be nice in some situations. Remember that Prince song, Raspberry Beret? I was reminded of that today–and I was also reminded of another story in the now-out-of-print book, 100 Great Science Fiction Short Short Stories. This one was written by Ralph Milne Farley:
THE MAN WHO COULD TURN BACK THE CLOCK
(This is a parable, with two alternate endings. The reader can pick the ending which suits him.)
Once upon a time there was a man who had the power (whenever he found that he had made a mistake) to turn back the clock, and do the event over again in the light of experience. Now it so befell that this man once took shelter from the rain in a barn, with a very beautiful and seductive young lady.
And, when he told his wife about it afterwards, and she asked him rather suspiciously how he had behaved with the young lady, he replied in a surprised and hurt tone: “Why, perfectly properly, of course! It never occurred to me to do anything else.”
Whereupon his wife sniffed indignantly, and declared, “It was no credit to you to resist a temptation which never tempted you.”
Then the man saw that he had made a tactictal mistake; so he turned the clock back a few minutes and tried the conversation over again.
This time, when his wife expressed suspicion, he admitted: “It was all that I could do to keep my fingers off of her; but my deep and loyal love for you gave me strength to resist the temptation.”
Whereupon, instead of feeling complimented at this evidence of devotion, the wife became exceedingly angry. “No credit to you!” she snapped. “You oughtn’t even to have wanted to touch her. It is just as immoral to want a woman, as to get her.”
So the man spent a long time thinking. There must be some way to please a woman!
Finally the solution dawned on him, and he turned back the clock for a third try. Once more his wife asked him how he had behaved with the beautiful young lady.
This time, with hurt dignity, he replied, “What! That frump! Please give me credit for some taste.”
Whereupon his wife, who was nowhere near as attractive as the beautiful young lady, flung her arms around his neck, and murmured, “You darling!”
All of which proves that you can please a woman, if you use a little tact.
So the man’s miraculous power of turning back the clock did him no good. Except, of course, to teach him that there’s no pleasing a woman, no matter what you do!
Which he ought to have known anyway.
Realizing which, he turned the clock back again, a little further this time, to the episode of the beautiful and seductive young lady, in the barn, in the rain.