Martyria (mar-tir’-i-a): Confirming something by referring to one’s own experience.
What the hell is experience? Is it something you go through with your body? Your mind? Both? And what is it good for? Does it make you an authority? Is it really the “best teacher”?
We all have at least 1,000,000 experiences per day. Seeing, walking, breathing, talking, listening, sitting, getting dressed, having a beer, driving to the mall. This list could easily extend to five or six feet in 10pt. font. But there are experiences, and then there are EXPERIENCES. Upper-case experiences are memorable, often as first-times. I remember the one and only time I got run over by a car.
I was in the 7th grade. I was carrying a paper flag I had made as a part of a class project showing the history of the American Flag. I took a shortcut home because I was in a hurry to get home to show my mother my flag. I skipped the intersection with the crossing guard and crossed where there were no crosswalks. I was j-walking. I had been told it was dangerous, but I didn’t care. I was in a hurry. I stepped into street without looking and was clipped by a big blue Oldsmobile that looked a lot like my neighbor’s car. It didn’t blow its horn. It didn’t slow down. It tore my paper flag out of my hand and I lost my balance and fell down on the pavement crying. Then, I got up, and this time, I looked both ways before I crossed the street.
I got home, and I was right, the blue Oldsmobile was parked in my neighbor’s driveway! My neighbor, and my best friend Billy, came running across the yard. He asked if I was ok, then he told me he had taken the family car joyriding while his father and mother were sleeping off one of their many binges. Eddie Baskle, an older kid, had talked him into it, like he always did: getting younger gullible kids in trouble: he was a menace. He had stayed back so many times, he was eligible to vote in the 7th grade.
After I punched Billy in the stomach for what he had done to me, we decided to “take care” of Eddie, but we couldn’t decide what to do. First, we considered pushing him out in traffic so he would be run over. But we decided we did not want to kill hm. Then, we considered a couple of non-fatal accident scenarios. We would tell him about the glory hole that was located in the Speedy Mart men’s room. It would be fake—me and Billy would make it. My dad had recently purchased a set of hedge clippers so, when he was sober, he could cut back our out-of-control hedge. Our plan was to lop off Eddie’s wiener with the hedge clippers. Then, we realized it was too crazy and too violent, even for us. It was like a scene out of a horror movie. Finally, we settled on x-lax, a chocolate candy-like laxative. We’d wrap it in foil and tell Eddie it was candy. We would make sure he ate it at the start of school in the morning, so the laxative would take effect around noon. And it did!
We did as planned. Eddie jumped up from the lunchroom table he was sitting at and ran to the boys room with a steaming brown stain on the back of his pants and down his pants leg. He made a squishy noise as he ran, crying and swearing at the same time. The school nurse gave Eddie a gown to wear until his mom could drop off some clean pants, socks and underwear. Eddie had an important math test that he couldn’t miss and had to wear the gown to the test. He was mercilessly taunted by his classmates and earned the nickname “King Poop.”
Eddie knew it was me and Billy who put him in poopy hell, but he never retaliated. His x-lax experience had taught him a lesson. Now, he volunteers at a nearby soup kitchen where, unfortunately, they have recurring outbreaks of intestinal flu. So far, Eddie has managed to evade the runs. There are suspicions.
Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).
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