With all the stuff I’ve posted recently regarding The Wussification of America, I started thinking about all the things that happened to me as I was growing up and how I could have possibly survived my treacherous, unprotected childhood. I already touched on this in previous blogs entitled Killer Toys, Soft Kids and a Sobering Realization, Dodgeball, a Microcosm of Life and others, but I feel as if I need to expound on it a little more.
You know, because you guys deserve it.
Anyway, I started thinking about all the accidents I was involved in as a kid and how my parents and other family members reacted to them. I gotta say that, in retrospect, I’m damn lucky to be alive. Because when I got hurt, more often than not (and when I say more often than not I mean every time), I was told to suck it the hell up.
I know what you’re thinking, kids. Shoe, let’s hear some examples. Well, as always I’m hear for ya . . .
I don’t recall the following story but it’s been retold to me several times so don’t let any of my bloodline deny it, OK? It happened.
As the story goes, I was just a wee, innocent baby, the third child of my mom and dad. I had two
evil loving older sisters who were disgusted thrilled to have a new little brother. One day my wonderful mother had put me down for a nap and had gone to do the dishes. She heard me crying for a bit, and then I’d become very quiet. Too quiet. So quiet, in fact, that mom became a little concerned. So, she went to check on her little angel. What she found was this . . .
My 5-year old sister, who I shall not name here (it was Sara), was carrying yours truly around by the neck, swinging me around like a lifeless Cabbage Patch Kid. Oh, and my face was blue. Hence the silence on my part. You know, because it’s hard to cry when your windpipe is being crushed. Mom saved me, but she never rushed me to the hospital or anything and I don’t think there were any long-term adverse effects on me.
I don’t think. Then again I do suffer from periodic blackouts and an intense fear of people touching my neck, so there’s that. Oh, and I’ve never turned my back on my sister since. By the way, she’s way meaner than she looks. Kidding. Love ya Sid.
Later on, when I was around 10-years old, I was climbing a tree in our front yard with my buddy Ted. I believe it was Halloween and we were climbing up there in order leap down and scare the bejesus out of passing Trick or Treaters. Seemed like a good idea at the time. So I was ahead of Ted, probably 20-feet off the ground, when I reached for a branch to pull myself up higher. Well, the branch snapped and I henceforth plummeted downward, past Ted, hurtling towards the ground.
I hit, and my mouth must have been open, tongue out, because when it slammed shut upon impact I bit a substantial sized hole in my tongue. And yes, it hurt like a son-of-a-bitch. It was dark, and I first thought I’d bitten my tongue completely in half. I ran into the house screaming my head off, blood gushing out of my mouth and in a state of panic. Mom and Pop were sitting on the couch, probably watching “My Three Sons” or something. Here’s the conversation that followed:
Me: “I bi my ‘ongue! I bi a hole in my ‘ongue! A-h-h-h-h-h-h!
By the way, it’s hard to say the letter “t” without using your tongue. Try it.
Mom, not looking away from the TV: “Put some ice on it.”
Dad, eyes glued to the screen: “Shhhhhhhh! Ernie got into some trouble at school! His dad just found out! Put some ice on it.”
So, I put some ice on it and laid on the bed in my room in agony. I think maybe Dad came in during a commercial, took a look, and said I’d be fine. I might have even got a pat on the head out of it.
So, I walked around for a few weeks with a hole in my tongue until it finally grew back together. I can still feel a lump there though, swear to God.
I guess my point is that If this happened today the emergency squad would come and a team of doctors would be called to do reconstructive surgery to repair the damages. Back then? Nah. Put some ice on it.
Another time my buddy Billy and I were bored and decided to have a war with some old 45s my family had in the basement. For you youngsters out there, a 45 was a record, not a gun. It was round and had music on it. You see, you put it on a turntable and . . . never mind.
Anyway, we set up a couple forts with some old couch cushions and started firing these records at each other like frisbees. I happened to peek up at the wrong time and caught a record right over my right eye, and it put about a 2-inch gash right through my eyebrow. Did I mention it bled like hell? I looked like Mike Tyson had caught me with a right cross. Billy, horrified, ran home like a banshee while I ran upstairs looking for help, where I found Mom doing the dishes:
Me: “Mom, I cut my eye! MY EYE!!!”
Mom, grabbing a dishrag to wipe the blood away: “Oh, settle down. It’s not your eye. It’s above your eye. Put some ice on it.”
Do you see a pattern here? By the way, I still have the scar in my eyebrow. Battle scar, baby.
Another time my friend Ted (yes, him again) and I found some empty beer bottles in a ditch and thought it would be a cool idea to act out a western bar fight. Hey, it looked harmless on TV. We both got a couple bottles and started swinging, and about 5-seconds in Ted caught me with a shot right to the temple. Turns out those bottles are harder than they appear. I went down like a sack of potatoes, blacked out for a few seconds, and awoke to find Ted standing over me, laughing. Our “pretend” bar fight was over.
I never even told my parents. I just put some ice on it.
I used to spend a lot of time up at my Uncle Myrl’s house. He and Aunt Dorothy had 8-kids so there was always something going on. Everything revolved around sports. One summer day I was up there and we went outside to play some baseball. The problem was, we couldn’t find a baseball so cousin Kevin grabbed a croquet ball from somewhere. We’d been playing awhile, I was pitching, when cousin Mick sent a screaming line drive right back at me. I didn’t get my glove up in time and the croquet ball caught me right between the eyes, knocking me out cold.
And what was the reaction of my loving cousins? They all ran back into the house.
I have no idea how long I was out, but I do remember getting up and staggering back into the house, where everyone was watching TV:
Me: “What the hell? Thanks for nothing.”
Mick: “Hey, you’re alive.”
Kevin: “Better get some ice on that.”
What can I say? We were a little more hardcore back then. Once I was in the woods with my cousins John, Mark and Martin when I leaned on a tree, embedding a humongous thorn in my upper arm. I mean, it was in deep. Hurt like heck too. I mentioned something about going home to get it looked at when somebody said, “Screw that, we’ll get it out.” Next thing I knew they’d heated up the tip of a bowie knife with a cigarette lighter and went to work. After 10-minutes of painful probing, the offending thorn was found and pulled out.
Couldn’t forego a fun hike through the woods because of a silly arm injury, now could we?
One when I was about 5 or 6 I my parents and I were sitting on the front porch and Dad told me to run around the house to see how fast I could go. In retrospect it’s pretty obvious he was just trying to get rid of me for a little bit, but that’s neither here nor there. Any, I was barefoot as usual and when I made it back around and stood there panting, he sort of looked down, pointed, and calmly stated, “Hey, looks like you cut your foot there.”
I looked down, and sure enough there was a 3-inch slice of meat hanging off my instep like you would not dream. Blood everywhere too, I might add. But hey, no biggie. Mom just slapped some mecuricome* on it, added a band-aid or six and I was ready to rock and roll.
*For you younger folk out there, mecuricome was a wonder antiseptic that was used to prevent and cure all sorts of maladies. And yes, it had mercury in it. I recall it was red and it stung like a mofo. Sadly it was discontinued years ago. Something about causing cancer or some such nonsense. On a related note, I bet mom still has a bottle stashed somewhere.
I’m also 90% sure I broke a kneecap that went untreated when I wrecked my bike as a kid. How do I know this? Because when I get down on that knee today if feels as if I’m kneeling on a live power line. Somehow, I soldier on.
And it wasn’t just my family. I remember a basketball game back in the day at our school. A player suffered a horrific arm injury, complete with a bone sticking out and everything. As he lay on the court writhing in pain, his dad came out for a look. Here’s the conversation that transpired:
Trainer: “This is bad. We need to get him to the hospital right away.”
Father: “Yeah, I’ll go get my truck.”
Trainer: “We have an ambulance outside. Let’s bring in the stretcher and get him out of here.”
Father: “Nah, I’ll take him. Leave the ambulance here. Somebody might get hurt.”
Kid: “Wait. What?”
Random fan: “Better get some ice on that!”
The father then helped the kid up, walked him to their Ford F150, and went to the hospital. Screw the ambulance.
What can I say? It was a different time. Hell, every kid I knew back then has similar stories to tell. We knew our parents loved us. They just didn’t panic at the sight of a
lot of little blood on their kid. They knew that by not running screaming to our aid we’d learn to handle our problems by ourself and, in turn, become more self-sufficient. They wanted us to be independent of them, not dependent on them.
So we got hurt. Suffered a little. Even bled.
And somehow, some way, we all survived.
We just put a little ice on it.