Monday, September 29, 2014
We've all done it when we were kids. At least the dreamiest of us little scamps. In Fort Lauderdale, where the sun bakes, and the air is a thick wet blanket, I'd lie down on the sidewalks and stare at the clouds.
I had a lot of time on my grubby finger painting hands. Scarlet Fever flushed my cheeks that year, 1969. I missed 1/2 a year of kindergarten because of it. Mom stayed home during that blessed time. She was so tall to me, all five foot three inches of her.
I remember our living room as a burnished sepia toned photo. The outside borders are fuzzy, like my memory. Yet what I remember is what counts. It seems that the carpet was all shag, green, like pea soup. The walls were blank. We never lived in these apartments for very long. Mom liked to iron and watch a little TV. I think the ironing made her feel leisurely. I don't know for sure, because Mom and I are different, but if it were me, as much as she worked outside of the home when we were growing up, I'd think that time at home, tending it like a garden would be cherished. I recall the ironing board and the giant television set.
It was a typical hot day, and she herded me like a cat, near the television set to watch Neil Armstrong stake that USA flag in a crater far away, but close, on the moon. The same moon that I watched when we would drive home at night after movies at the drive-in. I'd lie on the vinyl seat of the Buick with the windows down, as shadows passed over the convertible ceiling. I saw it, The Man in the Moon. He looked and still does, like a cop with a sideways profile, old school, like from the fifties, complete with the emblem above the brim. "Susie, sit down! This is history. Watch it! He's on the moon!"
I listened and obeyed. I was just that kind of kid. The air condition evaporated all the five year old burden from my fevered brow. And it was enough, so back outside I went. It wasn't on the same day that this other event occurred, but I remember quite a few things from that year, living in that duplex, and all the memories run together, like flipping through a scrapbook.
My friend Gina lived across the the courtyard in another duplex. Her mother sewed and we played with these straight pins, with the colored balls on the ends. Gina had to lay down for a nap, so I was sent home. I took a few pins with me, hiding them in the folds of my smocked sun suit. I lied down on the sidewalk and outlined the clouds with a blue straight pin, like a pointer a teacher would use. Then, I popped it in my mouth. Yeah, then, I swallowed it.
We rushed to Holy Cross Hospital to the ER. Mom clutching the steering wheel, white knuckled, pinched vocal chords, like mine. Hers were screaming. Mine were pricked.
I stared at my toes, barely over the edge of the seat. It was a mistake. I shouldn't have swallowed that thing.
They took an X-Ray and we saw it, floating like. A thin sliver, a slice of moon in the middle of the space of my diaphragm.
"Have her eat bread, and wait. It'll come out."
It did, in the toilet. It stuck on the way out, much the same way it stuck on the way in.
You don't make these things up, and you don't forget them.