Startled,
or Scared?

copyright 2008
by Lin Stone

Some people, unschooled in semantics, think that startled and scared mean the same thing. Their delusion is so sharp they believe they have scared someone they simply startled. For example, a water buffalo was walking along a lake when a lion leaped out in front of him. The water buffalo jerked around and began running. The lion called after him, Hey, are you scared?

The buffalo stopped and looked back. Seeing only one lion he tossed his head and said: Not me, I m the bull of the woods. You just startled me because you lions usually hunt in packs of four and five.

The lion shook his head. We don t hunt in packs. We hunt in prides.

Call it pride if you want to, retorted the water buffalo but I call it cheating.

The lion grinned. Well, if you aren t scared come on back and let s play a while.

So the water buffalo ran at the lion and the lion lunged at the water buffalo. Just as they met the water buffalo lowered his head, hooked the lion with his right horn and flung the lion high into the sky. As the lion fell back towards the earth the water buffalo caught him again, on the other horn, and threw him back into the air again. This time the lion landed a few feet away from the water buffalo and quickly scrambled for the brush.

Hey, yelled the water buffalo. Are you scared?

I'm not scared, said the lion. I m the king of the jungle. But I ll tell you what; you startled the pewallion out of me.

Then the lion slunk off into the brush, a little bit wiser and a whole lot weaker.

the end

Labels like scared -- whether pinned on you by your teasing friends, or by the mentally challenged people that can't even learn semantics can goad you to act without caution and do things you never would do otherwise. Remember, Audie Murphy, the most decorated hero to come out of the Second World War alive, did not swagger or curse like a manly man. He acted much more like a bashful teenager.

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