Once upon a time my Dad’s mom decided to spruce up her yard by planting a row of apple trees. It worked great…while she had kids to clean up the falling apples every autumn.

The flyswatter was her weapon of choice.

I am the oldest grandkid on both sides of my family, and it allowed me to see their transformation as aunts and uncles stopped living at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Part of my childhood was spent climbing those apple trees…

And most of my teenage years were spent cutting them down, as my aging grandparents no longer had kids to pick up the apples, or the ability to pick them.
I certainly wasn’t going to pick them. We had our own apple tree.
One day when I was in high school we were up at Grandma’s helping them with the trees. I think at this point we were merely pruning them for my grandparents; they hadn’t quite given up on them. My uncle Kevin (whom you are going to get to know in this blog rather more than he would like) was also helping us. My dad and uncle would prune the tree and I would pick up the branches.

Fear the flyswatter.

After a while their attention wandered, and I was able to sneak away. I went inside to get a drink and use the bathroom. It is at this point the story is heavily disputed, and the only independent witness wasn’t there because he couldn’t wait five minutes to go potty. It is one of the greatest regrets of my life that I did not witness what came to be known as the Great Apple Switch Incident. In the interest of fairness I will give both sides.


My uncle Kevin, a mean, vindictive, petty person, had always resented his older brother’s good looks, charming personality and his height. The moment that my dad’s offspring was no longer present to defend him, Kevin pounced.
He seized the largest, longest and most vicious-looking branch from off the ground, and with a primal scream that would shame every tribal culture’s warrior class, he struck at my father. The switch moved so quickly it set fire to the atmosphere around it, and struck my dad’s backside with the force of an atom bomb.


Dad attempted to defend himself, turning around and reaching for the incarnate demon that had once been his brother, but it was too late. He sank to the ground in utter agony while Kevin laughed himself sick over my father’s lifeless form.
Kevin takes great issue with that version, however:


My sweet, caring Uncle Kevin, always naturally curious about the world around him and eager to continue his quest for knowledge, innocently picked up a small apple switch lying on the ground. (A very small switch; this point cannot be emphasized enough. It is possible, according to my uncle, that it was so small as to be invisible to the naked eye. An electron microscope may not have been able to see this thing.)
Being an inquisitive soul, the thought naturally crossed his mind:
And he decided to utilize the scientific method and test it on a subject. It was quite natural not to let the subject know, as that could influence the outcome of his test.
He swung the switch slowly…oh so slowly…towards Dad, with Dad’s safety always being the paramount concern. He stopped a full foot from Dad’s backside. Or two feet. Perhaps five or six miles; the point, Kevin insists, is that he did not come anywhere near my dad’s rear end.
Magically, however, the apple switch had achieved sentience and lusted for vengeance at having been chopped off by Dad.

Regardless, a real man wouldn’t have been fazed by such a minor event, but being a sissy little girl who cries every time he watches Old Yeller, Dad couldn’t take it.
Dad turned to launch a vicious, virtually unprovoked assault on poor Kevin, but was saved when his old, rickety nervous system shut down. Surprisingly, that was about the only part of the tale both sides agreed on:
A more objective analysis is this: Apple wood is very bendable and springy. My uncle swung, thinking he had stopped a safe distance from Dad, but the switch was more pliable than he thought, and struck my father anyway with a powerful “THWACK.” Everyone in the house heard it. The “THWACK” rattled windows and knocked pictures from the walls. It was so loud my grandma’s ears began to bleed. I am fairly certain the nearby university’s seismometers picked it up as well.
As the ringing in our ears subsided, we began to hear hysterical laughter from the backyard; the kind of laughter usually confined to insane asylums.
We all rushed outside. Kevin, through tears and hiccupping, explained what happened while my dad was still moaning in the grass. If Dad was expecting sympathy, he was quite mistaken.
After the liberal application of ice packs, meals eaten standing up and many nights trying to sleep on his back, my dad eventually recovered from his trauma.
And if you think I’m exaggerating, you should hear the most recent telling. Dad now claims Kevin beat him senseless with a rubber hose and had to go to the hospital, and Kevin insists that not only was he not at my grandparent’s house, he wasn’t even in the country. His theory is a gust of wind picked up the switch, and Dad is just remembering Kevin being there because Dad never liked Kevin anyway.
Regardless, if I get a time machine, I’m going to go back to this point. Not to stop it, oh no. I just want to see what really happened.

And laugh some more.