The Oral Report

Standing up in front of the class was never so much fun!

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Location: River City, United States

The rantings and ravings of a mom of three wonderful girls as she finds new love while working like a dog and shaking her fist at the system. You know. Pretty much like everybody else.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Flashback Friday!

No school today, so I'm looking forward to my very short work day to be over so I can get back to my place and spend a little time with my girls before they go to their dad's for a week. Why no school today, you ask? I mean, isn't there only a couple weeks left?

You're right. You're right. But, see, this is the home of horse-racing. And the day BEFORE the Kentucky Derby, there is another (slightly) less famous race, the Kentucky Oaks. And school closes on Oaks Day, so that the teachers (and probably some of the kids) can go gamble at the track. It's all about the kids here.

But, today I've got another Flashback Friday! all warmed up for you. And this one was WAY in the back of the freezer behind the leftover potroast and some frozen broccoli.

This really old flashback goes back to the late 1960's, when I was a rowdy kid with a delightfully weird streak (that I've TOTALLY outgrown, by the way), growing up in Rochester, NY.

The first house my parents bought outright was this great old two story house kind of in the middle of the block. When they bought it, it was in pretty bad shape, and they spent a 3-4 years fixing it back up. Some of their decorating was questionable (even then...heh), but they really did a great job on it.

I think my favorite part of the house was the office, which was off of the family room. It had an entire wall of windows (which on the office-side were curtained), including two French glass doors that opened into the office. That would have been cool enough for me, but inside the room there was one small window that let in very little light (and meant there were cool lamps making all kinds of weird light pools). And a secret door to the basement. My dad had inherited his grandfather's rolltop desk when my great-grandfather died, and the old piece just worked so beautifully in the room. The whole room always had this air of mystery about it. And it seemed to me to be right out of an Arthur Conan Doyle novel.

As kids, though, my sister and I spent far more time outside than inside. We had a pretty large backyard that had an enormous lilac bush up near the back porch. To this day, whenever I smell lilacs, I am immediately transcended to that yard.

On either side of our house lived retired couples. Ironically (or maybe not), both of the men were horticulturists. One grew miniature roses, the other standards. Both backyards were completely landscaped rose gardens. There were paths throughout, but the entire yard was a sea of different colored roses. And from our backyard, when the season was right, the wind always smelled of matter which way it was blowing. And that is another delightful memory I hope I will always hold.

And so, one sunny summer weekend afternoon, my sister and I, being the adventurous and imaginative tykes we were, decided that we were bored and, so, we set out to make our own see-saw. We didn't have a swingset or any cool stuff in our yard to play with and we'd pretty well run the gambit on sticks and rocks, and all the fun you could have with those.

We spotted some 2x4's lying just inside the rickety garage behind our house. Presumably, there for a project my dad was working on in the house at some point. And then we found a pretty large rock, which we rolled to the middle of the yard, where we intended to set up our new playground equipment.

Putting the lumber over top the rock, we felt every necessary precaution had been addressed. But, as we were 6 and 7 at the time, we could have missed a few. The homemade see-saw kept us entertained for quite some time. We couldn't get the height of a REAL see-saw, but hey, we had made this one ourselves. And we were having a ball!

At some point, I noticed that my shoe was untied, and so I shouted over to my sister that I needed to tie my shoe, and I got off the see-saw. I sat down on the ground, just beyond the end of the board, picking up a lace in each hand. As I worked the strings together, my sister, growing impatient I suppose, began to walk across the 2x4, thus causing it to thrust forcefully upward, where it caught me squarely above my right eye.

I remember it hurting pretty badly. And I remember a great deal of blood. That's the thing with head wounds, they bleed like CRAZY! (If I didn't know it before, I've learned it with my own kids. Or I should say kid, as it's been [Kid 2] getting stitched up on three different head wounds in her lifetime.) Anyway, I don't remember crying so much as being mad that I wasn't going to get to continue playing because my little sister couldn't wait for me to tie my damned shoe. And the bleeding continued. And all of that sucked.

Not normally a tattle-tale, I couldn't really do what I usually did (beat my little sister up until she begged for mercy) because I had one hand busy applying pressure to a head wound. So, I was forced to go get some assistance from one of my parents.

As funny as it sounds, this next part didn't come clear to me at the time. It wasn't until I was twenty-seven and was re-telling the story and my brain kinda went...HEY, WAIT A MINUTE!...that I FINALLY got what happened on that day in 1969. And it was a pretty comical moment.

Running through the house, looking for my parents, I started yelling that I was hurt. I never found anyone downstairs and so I ran upstairs, where my mom came rushing out of her bedroom, putting her bra on.

Hold up.

Yes. You read that right.

She was "rushing out of her bedroom putting her bra on."

Now. When this originally happened, I honestly did not think anything of the fact that my mother was coming out of her bedroom at 3:00 on a Saturday afternoon, putting her bra on. It never occurred to me why she'd been in her bedroom, while we were outside playing. It was only when I was reconstructing the story (which I hadn't thought about in years) and was moving right along. I got to the point where I mentioned my mom and as I said it out loud, I went "HEY! My mom and dad were having sex while I was outside getting my head busted open!"

But, in the moment, I didn't ask any questions about that stuff, and my mom, who was probably feeling guilty as hell, started looking at the cut. She took me into the bathroom and started cleaning some of the blood and then she saw how bad it was.

My mom said, "Oh my God! I can see your brains and everything!" And she started to panic a little.

And instead of being afraid, I said, "COOL! Let me see!" And I started trying to climb up on top of the toilet, so I could see in the mirror. I mean, how often do you get an opportunity to check out your own actual brain? I didn't want to pass it up. Unfortunately, that just freaked my mom out even more.

"No. No! Get down. We have to go to the hospital!"

At this point, my dad came out of the bedroom. Again, nothing registering here, folks. Maybe, it was the head injury.

She then loaded me up in the car and we headed to the emergency room, leaving my dad and my little sister at home.

Emergency rooms have changed dramatically in the last 35 years. One thing that hasn't is that you have to wait forever. And you almost always see something weird while you're there. Yeah, that's two things. But they're both true.

The something weird that I saw, while I was sitting there waiting to get my head stitched up, was a kid who had white sweat socks tied all over his arms and legs. I have no idea, even now, what the hell could have been up with that. But he had socks tied around his wrists, his arms, his ankles, his thighs. I couldn't help but stare at him. He was wearing a t-shirt and shorts, so you could see lots of white sweat socks all over him. At the time, I thought maybe the blow to my head had done something, but I remember asking my mom about it. She told me not to stare and to keep applying pressure to my cut.

Well. Sure. But, what the hell happened to THAT kid? And why the hell would they tie him all up in white sweat socks? They weren't bloody or anything. It was baffling.

Later...much later...when it was finally my turn, we were taken back to a suture room. The doctor looked at the wound. Gave me a shot of novacaine and proceeded to stitch me up. He was talking to my mother the whole time.

"She's very lucky that the board didn't hit her lower. Another 1/4 inch and she could have lost her eye."

My mother shook her head, but didn't say much. Probably because she was thinking about how she should have been keeping HER eye open instead of engaging know.

"It's good that she's a girl, too. She'll be able to hide the scar with make-up. And most of it's in her eyebrow, so it won't be terribly obvious."

I don't think I've ever worn eyebrow pencil in my life, but it was big stuff back then. But, I remember thinking, even then, that that remark was incredibly sexist.

Six stitches later, we were on our way back home. My mother subdued. Me, tired mostly. Sorry that my see-saw experiment had gone so badly awry. Wondering what kind of scar I'd have. And what in the HELL was going on with that kid with the sweat socks.

All these years later and the scar is hardly noticeable at all. I've never actively tried to cover it up. You really have to be working hard to see it. It's a little badge, though. Other than surgical stitches, they were the only ones I ever got. And when I was a kid, you were pretty cool if you had a scar. And one so close to my eye was worth bonus points!

Now, the moral of the story is this. Don't try to build a see-saw out of a board and a rock. It's a suicide mission! And, grown-ups, don't think you can sneak in a quickie while the kids are occupied outside. All hell will be breaking loose in 5...4...3...2...

All right, you guys have a fun weekend, now. Happy Derby Day to you all!



Blogger Julia said...

Isn't it amazing when you suddenly understand something from your youth?

And I understand about school being off for a horse race. We don't start school here until after THE FAIR (always capitalized) and our kids have off for the first day of hunting season and fishing season.

5/05/2006 8:58 AM  
Blogger Opus P. Penguin said...

Oh, the lilacs...

It's amazing and a little creepy to learn things like this about your parents. What creeps me out is when my mother acts like we still don't know what was going on.

Come on, we grew up in a tiny little ranch house.

I was a cautious child and never had blood spurting from my head, but I was extremely curious. And very often unsupervised. It wasn't long before I discovered that inside the hollow, octagonal side table in the "sitting area" of my parents' bedroom were stashed my father's collection of Playboy magazines. My friend Deanne would come by and we'd pore through them, fascinated. And kind of disgusted that we'd look like THAT when we grew up. (She actually grew a decent-sized rack so she got a little closer)

Then my parents split (I doubt it was because of the Playboys) and so was the furniture. The end table ended up in my mother's condo. When she remarried, moved into her new husband's house and then, a year or so later, sold the condo, she had us all come over and take whatever we wanted.

I took the end table. Just makes me smile whenever I look at it.

No, I don't keep dirty magazines inside. Just novels that I've finished with and don't have room for on the shelves. How terribly boring.

5/07/2006 10:58 AM  

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