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Friday, July 2, 2010

My Mother Will See You Now

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.”


K A B L O O E Y said...

Oh, man. That description of the nail through Kevin's foot was so vivid I was wincing. Contributing factors may have been my wimpiness (I couldn't have been a medic) and the fact that my brother's name is Kevin, but it was mostly your writing that did it. Wincing aside, thanks for painting such a vivid portrait of your mother.

Douglas said...

My mother was another whose eyes would light up when you showed her a splinter, um, injury. She also handled it well, though less enthusiastically, when I gave myself more serious and profusely bleeding injuries. Which I did at fairly regular intervals.

Anonymous said...

Could I get your mom to sign up as an
'In Network' provider on my HMO insurance?

That's some good healthcare at affordable prices if you ask me...


Nota Bene said...

Ha...your Mum is excellent for saying he'd be wanting new shoes then!

Beta Dad said...

1) Nice playlist. Hardly anything to be embarrassed about. Unlike my ipod (shared with wife), on which a random shuffle might end up with Pat Benetar or Britney Spears.

2)My Grandpa was a sliver surgeon too. But he used a big old Barlow knife to dig out the splinters. Scariest thing ever for kids.

3)I shot a 16 penny framing nail (3.5" long) all the way through my thumb with a nail gun while I was on a twenty foot high scaffold. I thought it was going to start hurting a lot a couple seconds after it happened. But it didn't. So I climbed down the scaffold, showed it to my buddy, and then eased the nail out of my thumb. It had missed the bone and just gone through the pad. It didn't even bleed much. My buddy was like, "Shit--you shoulda left it in there so I could take a picture."

My wife was in med school at the time, and when I told some of her friends about the nail and the thumb, they were all, "So what hospital did you go to." I was like, "Hospital? Pssht. I put some electrical tape on it and went back to work."

Lynne said...

Enjoyed your tale, Pearl, Mothers were much tougher in those days.

Gigi said...

Without a doubt your mom was a real mom! They know what to do when faced with these kinds of situations - whereas me? I just faint.

Sarah said...

That just proved boys are chickens, and there's a reason females are moms.

Cheeseboy said...

Every mom has a medical degree. It is included in their mom degrees.

Sugarman 3 and Co.? Definitely going to check them out. I love the Beasties, but I am afraid they are getting just a tad, uh, old for alternative rappers.

CatLadyLarew said...

Wow! I heart your mom! Makes me want to go out and jump on a garbage heap right now.

Christine Gram said...

I think nerve like this is born in a woman when she gives birth her punks. Maybe it's something in the hormones that does it. All I know is that stuff that used to make me hurl is shockingly mundane now.

Ponita in Real Life said...

I did that... stepped on a board with a nail in it. Not in a dump, mind you. The board was a loner, stealthily hunkered down in the grass. The difference is, my nail DID hit the bone... right where your big toe joins the ball of your foot. And when I went to take another step, the board came with me. So I stepped on the board and pulled it off... only to find my shoe filling up with blood!

Spent a week getting twice daily soaks in some kind of blue solution with the local doc... I have no memory of it hurting... although it must have. I do remember the 'thunk' as it hit the bone, but only as a vibration, not as pain.

Katherine Thomas said...

What a great post! Add me to the list of people who can identify with the kids AND the mom in your story. I love a good splinter too! And my daughter once had one of those little rubber bumpers from inside the cupboard doors stuck in her nose for two months! She kept telling me something was in there, but I thought she just had a cold... one day she sneezed it out and said, "See? There's that thing." You're a great writer! I enjoy your posts! I also agree with the comment above, about boys being too squeamish to be moms!

poosemommy said...

I was the audience to many a horrific disaster growing up. I particularly remember the one with dad's thumb and the table saw ~shivers~
The hilarious part is that they were both EMT trained (mom was an EMT I and dad was EMTII)
I am in nursing school, so I'll probably have to abandon my super-glue/staplegun school or medical care in favor of more "conventional" treatments. *sigh*