When I was 5 or 6 years old, I found a test tube in the back room of our house.
It was nestled in a jar among some old pens, pliers, and odd junk in my mother's collections. I held it up: a real test tube; such a treasure! The sight of it conjured up exciting thoughts of scientific experiments, danger, and unknown worlds. I considered the object for a few moments, and then I put it carefully back where I'd found it.
Later that day, my friend Corky wandered over from next door, and we were playing in the yard when I remembered my discovery. I told Corky, "Wait here. I want to show you something," and I went into the house.
I retrieved the test tube from the back room, took it into the kitchen, and put some water into it. Then I pushed a chair over to the cabinet and got down the little bottles of food coloring, and I put a drop of yellow into the tube, then a drop of red. The test tube now contained a fine and rare-looking orange liquid, which I thought looked rather impressive. This was going to show my friend that I was not to be trifled with, and I carried it outside to the yard where he was waiting.
"Corky, this is a chemical!" I told him ominously, holding the test tube up for him to see.
"No it isn't. You just put some coloring into some water," he said, narrowing his eyes at me in his annoyingly skeptical way. I was astonished at his ignorance.
"It's a chemical," I repeated, a bit weakly.
"No, it isn't."
I withdrew back into the house, stung at Corky's lack of appreciation, and dismayed that he didn't believe me. I was lying, but so? Couldn't he see that this was a real test tube? I poured the useless orange water down the drain.
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