It’s Friday, it’s summer, and it’s the start of a long weekend here in the U.S. Do I ask for much more? I do not. Ladies and gentlemen, join me, won’t you, in giddy anticipation of the end of the work day and the beginning of a three-day foray into unabashed revelry.
I turn to my iPod, Harmonic Harbinger, Aural Oracle, Tuneful Tarot, and ask it: this morning’s playlist? What’s it say for the weekend?
Funky So-and-So by Sugarman 3 and Co.
Take Me to the River by Talking Heads
She’s in Parties by Bauhaus
Shadrach by Beastie Boys
Cigarettes and Chocolate Milk by Rufus Wainwright
Easy (Like Sunday Morning) by Faith No More
Nausea by Beck
First of all, I’d like to deny everything that the above list says about me and suggest that my iPod is a liar. While I may be funky and am definitely a talking head, and, okay, I enjoy the occasional party, have been known to shout along with the Beastie Boys, and have plans to – ah, rats.
I am not, however, all that easy; and I’m speaking particularly to my mother here.
Curse you, iPod!
And speaking of my mother…
When the weather gets warm, when the days get longer, I think of my mother and her unmet desire to become a medic.
Summer always provided ample opportunity for an unlicensed medical practice.
In her heart of hearts, my mother fancied herself a professional. She lived for the moment one of us would come running into the house – “MOM!!!” – shouting in that tone that makes women, mothers or not, stop what they’re doing, tilt their chins toward the sound, and consider getting involved.
She specialized in make-do situations. She once removed a perfectly nostril-sized pebble from my nose when I was five using nothing but her wits and her left pinkie nail.
And she loved slivers. Her eyes glittered as she’d go for her sewing kit.
“Oooh, we’ve got a nice one here,” she’d say, hunched over the afflicted spot. “Howdja get that? You climbing telephone poles again? Kevin, give me your lighter.” She’d hold her needle over the flame. “It’s sterile,” she’d say. “Hold still, now, we don’t want another incident.”
I once watched her pry a nail out of my brother Kevin’s tennis shoe. The nail had gone up through the shoe and well into the arch of his foot, the result of running across the top of the dump that ran behind the trailer park. I amuse myself by pretending to recall that it was terribly gruesome and that you could actually hear the nail rub against bone as she wrenched it from the bottom of his shoe; but the truth is less satisfying.
Kevin leaned against the trailer, his foot tucked firmly under Mom’s left arm. The hammer in her right, she appeared to be taking a shoe off a horse.
The operation was surprisingly swift.
Kevin howled, of course, but more out of the anticipation of pain than the pain itself. It was over so quickly that he stopped yelling, an abrupt cessation; and we all watched as Mom pulled the shoe and then the sock off.
It was disappointingly bloodless.
“Well,” she said, “I suppose you’ll be wanting new shoes then.”
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