I feel the need

I feel the need

Sunday, January 29, 2012

I am every bit as TOUGH as any NFL player.

My children, not unlike most kids in their generation, have no knowledge of a time before microwaves, cable TV, and electronic entertainment. I love to pull this story out every once in a while, not so much to garner sympathy from them (which I'm not stupid enough to expect...who gets sympathy from their kids?) but to sort of put my childhood poverty into some sort of context for them.  And to get them to shut up when they're whining about doing chores.

I have a fairly distinct scar on my right heel.  If you look carefully, you can almost make out two solid rings and a couple of scrawled letters.  I've had this scar on my heel since I was 5 or 6, and like pretty much everything else in my life, I have a story to go with it.  If I've told you this story...well, stop reading, I guess! 

When I was five or six, my chore in the house was to dust things. I hated dusting.  Still do.  But that was my job.  Over the years I managed to bring down my mother's wrath on me because I was not good at this job...nor did I care. 

I would break things when I dusted  ("WHY CAN'T WE HAVE NICE THINGS?")  or I would miss things completely.   (This once led to a very long Saturday afternoon where I was supposed to dust my father's office.  My mother came down to inspect and all she said was, "You missed a spot."  After  about five inspections with the same result I started dusting the walls.  She never did tell me what I missed.  She did, however yell, "IF YOU WOULD DO THE JOB RIGHT THE FIRST TIME I WOULDN'T HAVE TO KEEP COMING DOWN HERE."  I had the nerve to point out that she wouldn't have to keep coming down there if she would just tell me what I missed.   I didn't get to watch Johnny Gage on "Emergency!" that night.)

One Saturday, bored with my usual dusting tasks, and noting that my very tall father was dusting the top of the fridge, I asked if I could.  Mom must not have been in the immediate area, because he strayed from his chore list and lifted me onto the narrow counter between the fridge and the stove, and let me dust the top of the fridge.  I loved it.  (I was an idiot.)  I loved the view from above.  i loved dusting something that was filthy even I recognized the need for dusting.  I love how I could swirl the thick, gray dust into piles and make it look like pictures.  I loved that it actually looked like I'd done something when I was done.

The next day, just home from church and still in my Sunday Best, which involved those awful white nylon anklet socks.  I hated those socks.  They didn't keep your feet warm.  They didn't stay up, when they got wet they felt yucky, and if your foot was the tiniest bit wet when you put it on, it would tear, bringing down the wrath of Mother.  (WHY CAN'T YOU BE MORE CAREFUL WITH YOUR CLOTHES?)

My mother put Sunday dinner on the stove.  There was a roast in the pressure cooker on one electric burner and a pot of potatoes boiling in the kettle on the burner nearest the narrow counter.  She then went into the living room to play piano.  (This is what she has done her entire life, and why, even as an adult, I cannot eat boiled potatoes.  She scorched potatoes so completely once she had to through out the kettle.)

With Mother playing piano, Father in his office downstairs, (probably.  Dad taught the upper grades and was the principal of a small parochial school.  Frankly, he was probably at school.)  I decided to dust the top of the fridge again.  I was good at it, I liked to do it, and I had no video games or computer to take up my time.  (Pong wasn't even invented yet and computers the size of Sherman Tanks were just making their way onto college campuses.)

With no one to lift me onto the counter, I can't recall if I dragged a chair over or if I hoisted myself up.  I think I hoisted myself up because dragging a chair would have caught the attention of my mother.  Up on the counter, I again dusted with great attention to detail.  I was so impressed with my work, I took a step backward to admire what I'd done.

The next thing I recall is hitting the floor a split second before the kettle of potatoes did.  It's all a blur after that.  My mother carried me to the bathroom and stuck my right foot in a sink full of cold water.  (Looking back, I had to wonder why she didn't use the kitchen sink.  She got on the phone  (we had one of those phone cords that stretched to the neighbor's house.) and called the pastor's wife, who was a nurse.  Mrs. Birner  (her real name, I'm not making it up) came over and looked at my foot. 

You could, if you looked closely, see the General Electric logo on my right heel.  My sock, that hateful nylon sock, melted around the burned in, branded, if you will, logo like  a charred frame.  I remember crying...a lot, and my foot swelling and turning a color red you probably don't see in human skin.

I wore my fuzzy pink princess slipper to school for weeks.  I couldn't get my foot in a normal shoe.

This might be why I don't boil potatoes or dust.  I don't know. 

But today I'm telling you this because I've been thinking about how I seem soft and weak to the culture in which I live.  This is a culture where we worship the strong, the young.  And the strongest,  let's say NFL players, have been lately proving their strength by getting "branded." 

If you're not familiar with the look or practice of human branding, it's pretty much what you think it is.  The end result looks like a raised scar. 
You think that's tough?
I did that to my foot when I was 5.

I don't think of my scar often, but when I did recently, I realized that it was the same thing as the branding these guys do to themselves.

After asking myself, "Why would anyone want to do that?"  I then had to say, "Yeah well, that's not a sign of being tough.  Show me something tough that I didn't do when I was 5."

So I figure I'm just as tough as any NFL player.  Sure, I can't run, catch, throw, or tackle, but I got branded, just like them.

And to further the argument, I have two words:  Child Birth.

For those of you wondering about my New Year's resolutions, I am back on the vitamin train.  I'm taking the gummies now, and so far my "itch that dare not speak its name" has not come back.  Also, I am getting to Gold's 2x at least a week.  The Wii thing may develop into some sort of at home exercise, like actually plugging in the treadmill I have in the basement.

Meanwhile, today is SNEAK PEAK SUNDAY over at It's a Writer's World, and I'm sharing another random chapter of  Lies in Chance.  (Available for Nook, Kindle, e-Reader, and paperback ((Amazon only for paperback.)))

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