Some people really need others.  My first college roommate, Lynn, was like that.  She desperately needed her friends to take care of her.  Lynn-maintenance was usually harmless…

 

 

For the most part, I was happy to help.  She’d been a great sport about my sneaking a guinea pig into our dorm room a month after we moved in.  My assistance was a small price to pay for her silence in guinea pig-related matters.

But a particularly bad storm tested that.  Lynn was absolutely terrified of thunderstorms, and I had a ten-page essay due the following morning.  This storm happened to be the biggest Chicago-style thunderstorm since we’d started college.  It wasn’t long before this entered the room:

My half-written paper was due in less than ten hours.  A quick search on weather.com projected the storm would last well into morning.  I didn’t have time to comfort Lynn.  If I went to the RAs, Lynn would get mad and refuse to talk to me for the rest of the year.  And she just wouldn’t believe lightning doesn’t explode buildings.

But maybe she’d believe something protected our dorm from lighting.  So I told her I was sure the building was safe, because it would have lightning rods.

Lynn stopped crying and asked me what a lightning rod is.

You know how in fiction you’ll read about a character’s ancestral blood welling up inside of them and letting forth a burst of power?  That’s what I felt in that moment.  I could practically hear generations upon generations of manipulative liars crowing as I ascertained yes, Lynn seriously had never heard of a lightning rod before this moment in time.

A quick google search revealed a basic diagram of a lightning rod.  I explained it’s a metal pole in high place, attached to a wire running into the ground.  Then I told Lynn that the pole attracts lightning away from a building to completely protect it from damage, and that’s how they make really tall buildings stay up.

 

 

Lynn hated reading and never fact-checked anything ever.  So I felt I could get away with this level of utter bullshit.

For a brief second, Lynn seemed convinced.  Then her face clouded.  She started shaking again.  “But what if our dorm doesn’t have a lightning rod on it?  We’ll get struck and die in an explosion and I don’t wanna die and—”

I grabbed her by the shoulders, cutting her off, and insisted that every building in Chicago has a lightning rod on it.  “I think they made it a law after the Chicago fire.  But as long as we’re inside, we’re safe.  And that’s true for everywhere in Chicago, okay?”

“Okay.”  Lynn smiled and flounced off to go hang out with a friend.  She was calm for the rest of the night.  I got my paper done on time.  We lived together for two years, and she never had another panic attack over a storm again.