Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Twofer Tuesday!

My earlier blog was a little too serious for my taste (I loathe overly serious people), so let's see what else I can dig up...

It was the 4th of July 1981 and I was entering seventh grade in the fall. My father, a volunteer with the local Rescue Squad, was set to march in the Plainfield/North Plainfield parade once again. I was going to watch from squad headquarters (a choice viewing location because you could still see the parade from the air conditioned interior) and my mother was somehow charged with walking the dog that day. My mother has never been the most graceful woman on the planet, but much like alerting a child to something's value and warning him not to break it almost ensures its imminent destruction, my father's incessant teasing made my mother even more klutzy. To the point that she had a very difficult time walking anywhere in the 70s or 80s without tripping and/or falling. On this particular day, she tripped while walking the dog and wrenched her ankle pretty badly. I don't remember the specifics, but my mother wound up being tended by the Rescue Squad workers who were on duty and not marching in the parade -- men and women who were friends with my parents or at the very least knew who they were. My mother was very well endowed that particular summer and in a foreshadowing of my own sense of humor, was wearing a tasteful T-shirt that had a saying in large Braille letters across the chest. Anyone looking at the shirt would ask, "What does it say?" to which my mother would respond truthfully, "Let your fingers do the walking."

Bah dum bum.

Off she went to the hospital while word of what had happened got to my father and me. Mom spent the day spreading American Sign Language awareness and a touch of class, while I imagine my father did a good deal of shaking his head and sighing. Mom eventually came home with a large splint around her ankle, crutches, and less love for the dog. I escaped to my grandparents' house around the corner to enjoy the yearly fireworks battle between two of their neighbors. I was all set to hunker down and watch the insanity as two families who lived across the street from each other aimed fireworks at each others' homes and occasionally into the sky. I decided to pop some popcorn for the show. My grandparents had an old popper that could either hold oil in the bottom (which is the way I always did it) or could use butter melted from above the lid. For whatever reason, I went the butter route this time around. I followed the directions and added the butter to the lid. As best I can tell, the butter was supposed to melt, drip down, heat, and then cause the corn to pop. As an adult, I'm fairly confident I DIDN'T read the directions, made that horribly wrong assumption, and screwed the whole thing up. I'm sure the little butter reservoir was just to add butter towards the end of the popping to butter the popped kernels, not to provide the oil necessary for popping. So I added the butter, and nothing happened. And I added more butter, and nothing happened. I must have melted a stick or two in there and all the while the melted butter is heating in the bottom of the popper. At some point, I surrendered and decided to start over with oil. So I flipped the popper over to dump everything into the huge plastic lid -- the way one normally would retrieve the popcorn. Well, what I didn't notice was all the little cutouts around the circumference of the plastic lid -- that is, until the boiling hot butter dripped through the cutouts and down onto my bare foot. Holy hell. The largest blister I had ever seen immediately started forming across the entire surface of my foot and I started screaming my head off. My grandfather came running in and proceeded to rub BUTTER on the blister and I lost it. I never understood what he was doing until years later when I learned that prior to pasteurization, butter used to contain natural antibodies and was routinely used to treat burns. My grandfather, having been raised on a farm, would know this. Sorry I yelled at you, "Dad." (I called my mother's parents "Mom" and "Dad" because that's what I heard her call them. I've always been a terribly confused person!)

Anyway, I survived but went barefoot for the rest of the summer. I returned home the next day and hobbled about in unison with my mother who was on crutches. My father was left tending to us both and there's one other little tidbit....we both had our periods at the time and were crazy bitchy. I remember going with him to the Acme for "mouse mattresses." I had no idea what he was referring to. I kept asking and he kept whispering "mouse mattresses" with more and more emphasis. It was only when I saw him sheepishly approach the checkout line with a package of maxi pads that I understood what he was saying. I really had no chance -- both of my parents were completely bent!

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