What was the first thing that you read that knocked you over? Do you remember? How old were you?

I was probably twelve or so and was reading Twain’s Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

I don’t remember much about the book but I remember a time when Huck and Tom were masquerading as girls. Someone who suspected that they were boys tossed something onto their laps. The boys were caught when they nabbed the thing out of the air by clasping it between their legs. Girls, the narrator explained, catch things in their lap by spreading their dress open like a net. Boys do the opposite and catch with their legs like a crab claw.

I was agog for days. I could hardly believe that anyone had such an astute insight to observe anything like this. I’m still surprised when I think about it. How many fantastic things like this do I miss every single day?

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