The Alphabet Worm

October 2, 2014

I already declared myself to have been a stupid child in a previous post (if you don’t remember it, click here). Since the seal of the envelope that bears my idiocy has been broken, it is not difficult for me to share another example.

A few weeks ago, Mom shared a slice of my past with me via email. She served it up with a lot of sugar, calling it a “sweet memory.” I appreciate her perception of my past, but these memories often make me wonder how I grew up to become a semi-functioning adult.

You see, as a very young child, I had discovered an earthworm squirming along the ground while I was playing outside. After spending some time studying its movement, I determined that it was the smartest worm in the world. Excited about my discovery, I scooped it up and rushed inside to share this news with my Mom.

[Side Note: To the younger audience reading this blog, “playing outside” is what us adults did as kids. It required energy and imagination and included activities such as (to name a few) building a fort in the woods from fallen branches, manually navigating metal Tonka trucks in a dirt pit, climbing a tree, or pretending to be a world-renowned gymnast by doing cartwheels and round-offs on the family picnic table.]

As the worm writhed within my cupped hands, I dashed to the house imagining that once this discovery was made public, I could possibly be the youngest person ever to win a world science prize. I found Mom and exclaimed (note that I am paraphrasing as I do not recall the exact exchange), “Mom! I just found the smartest worm in the world. It’s amazing!” And as all good mothers do, she displayed interest in my presentation.

Because I was anxious to share MY discovery, I dismissed the urge to prod her anticipation with any fanfare and jumped right to the presentation that would prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that the smartest worm in the world was discovered in a North Mississippi back yard. Hanging on to the end of the worm, I spun it in the air like a lasso and flung it to the tile floor where it landed with a wet slap in the form of a familiar letter.

“S!” I yelled triumphantly.

After granting enough time for my mom to notice the worm had taken the shape of the letter S, I grabbed it off the floor and slung it again.


And again.


And again.


I don’t quite remember the outcome of this astonishing discovery. I assume Mom confiscated the abused worm from me under the guise of submitting it to the world science committee. I’m pretty certain she lectured me on abusing helpless invertebrates. However, it’s been well over 30 years and I still have yet to hear from the world science committee and my accolades for finding the worlds smartest worm. I wonder what the smartest worm in the world is up to nowadays.


by Cary Vaughn (2014)