dictionary with letter A

Aluminum: (n) the chemical element of atomic number 13, a light silvery-gray metal, the most abundant metal in the earth’s crust, obtained mainly from bauxite

It is amazing how words, ideas and concepts are all related to our personal experience rather than the reality of what they may be.

For after all, hearing the word aluminum, I might think of cans of soda, which I certainly have enjoyed over the years.

I might conjure an image of aluminum siding, which permeated the thinking of my townfolk growing up, as everyone deliberated whether it was a good alternative to the peeling paint on their wooden homes or the crumbling mortar on their brick ones.

But for me the word “aluminum” has an entirely different representation.

When I was a kid I lived in a household where various plans were hatched to attempt to make extra money or projects were pursued which were deemed worthy of our attention because they were new and innovative.

For instance, my dad bought a piece of multi-colored plastic which he was convinced could be placed over our television set to give the illusion of color TV without having to buy one of those more expensive brands. But of course, all it did was make the picture appear like fruit-striped gum.

Likewise, somewhere along the line my dad devised a plan to build a storehouse for boats to be held during the winter months in Ohio, when things were not sea-worthy. (Or since Ohio is landlocked, shall we say “lake-worthy?”)

This was an investment. And I remember that the main part of the investment involved purchasing huge sheets of corrugated aluminum to place on the building to protect it from the elements.

Well, here’s what happened. My dad laid the foundation for the warehouse, put up the boards for the framing and ran out of money before all of the aluminum could be attached. Even though he did put a couple of ships into the lean-to, it was never completed, and piles of the aluminum material were stacked nearby. They seemed to stay there forever.

Matter of fact, they remained long enough to become the home for all sorts of vermin: spiders, rats, possum, raccoons–any number of less-than-fortunate creatures from the animal kingdom did their wintering underneath the pile of my dad’s ignored aluminum.

So to this day, I cannot hear the word “aluminum” without a chill traveling down my spine … as I wonder what’s going to crawl out and bite me.

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