Last Friday, the kids and I walked down to the ol’ swimming hole in the River. As we walked, I told the them stories about the various landmarks, the things the cousins and I used to do and so forth.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have cable, satellite, video games, or gas money. The only thing within reasonable walking distance was the Holston River. For the most part, we were expected to create our own entertainment, and we did. We went fishing, swimming, climbed trees and hiked through the woods (although we didn’t call it hiking. We just called it playing in the woods with your “outside” shoes on, these shoes being different from your “inside shoes”, “church shoes” and “school shoes” – and God help you if you mixed them all up.)
Occasionally, we placed pennies on the railroad tracks and waited for a train to come through and flatten them, so we could make “Smushed Abe” jewelry. Then, during the summer, we’d wander off down the railroad tracks to the spot on the River where one could swing from the trussel on grapevines. It was one of the few places in the River where the water was deep enough and, as far as we could tell, devoid of junk cars, beer bottles and dead bodies.
Yep, these pre-Atari days are my “uphill both ways” material.
No, not from the trussel – as a parent, I don’t feel right about teaching my kids how to jump from train bridges into contaminated water. Plus, I’ve gotten cowardly in my old age. I decided to swing from the large rock midway down the incline to the river bed. I’ve done this a million times. No big deal. In fact, the first “test” swing from mid-rock was so successful, I climbed a wee bit higher, thinking to myself – “Oh yeah baby, I still got some mad Jane of the Jungle skillz.”
The second swing – uh, didn’t go so well. The vine broke. I fell. I bumped my head. Things crunched. It hurt.
Smartypants, who stood on top of the hill looking down at my twisted body, declared, “You guys used to that? It doesn’t look fun to me!”
Meanwhile Ms. Diva was standing behind him, dancing from foot-to-foot, singing, “Oh-oh-you-said-a-bad-word-I-I-eee-heard you.”
We headed back. Slowly. My knee started swelling to the size of a genetically-altered grapefruit, which is not a “huge amount” but enough make me limp – and I wondered what had caused this unlikely disaster. Is it because Jane’s ass is way bigger than it used to be or maybe the recent drought had effected the strength of the vines? Yeah, let’s go with the drought thing. It makes sense.
As soon as we made it back to the house, Ms. Diva started babbling to her grandma.
“Mamma fell down and she said a cussing word. Can I tell you what she said? Are you sure? I won’t get into trouble? She said (whisper) shit. Tee-hee. I heard her.” Emboldened by Grandma’s laughter, she says even louder, “Yep, she really did say “SHIT” really loud, like that: SHIT. Hee-hee. What? Why are you lookin at me like that? Granny said I could say it! Didn’t you Granny? Didn’t you say I could tell you what Mommy said? I’m not saying-saying the word. I’m just saying that you said it. Tell her Grandma! You said I could.”
Grandma smiles with an adoring look in her eye as she gazes upon her potty-mouthed grandchild and responds almost mechanically, “Yes, I told her she could.”
Taking this as a free pass, Diva announces, “Hey, I’m gonna go tell Papaw what she said! Hey papaw guess what Mommy said…. ” And skipping off to the workshop, she went singing: “Oh-my-mamma-said-shit, my mama-said-shit-shit-shit… … ”
By this time, I’ve got Dr. Cracklebone, the orthopedist’s, receptionist on the line and she’s laughing her head off over this whole shit episode. I’m mortified and completely convinced the old people in the house have entered some state of senile depravity which causes them to laugh about things for which I’d have been fed massive quantities of soap. (By the way, the soap thing doesn’t work. It just creates a scent-triggered gag aversion to Ivory and Safegaurd.)
Oh, I should mention that I have my own orthopedic surgeon because I’ve been bringing small pieces of my knee home in plastic specimen cups since 1985. I break a bit off, Dr. Cracklebone removes it. We repeat this process every five years or so. Before the first two surgeries, I asked for the “cartilage keepsake.” (I was offered extra credit if I donated my broken parts for class display.) Since then, they’ve kept giving me the broken pieces. I keep taking them. I don’t know why. I don’t want them – or maybe I consider them some type of receipt. Either way, I’ve been paying for him over 20 years now, and I feel I can claim some ownership
Anyway, Nurse of Cracklebone comes on the line as I am pondering upon why they cannot invent some type of duct tape type material for the innards and what one might have to do in order to have depraved grandparents committed. She tells me to put my leg in the immobilization brace from last time and come in on Monday – and don’t run a marathon before then.
So, I didn’t do much over the weekend. I read a book, worked on a painting but wasn’t feeling it. Then, I decided to draw pictures on the kids with henna instead. Of course, this wasn’t a great idea – because now we have to go through the whole conversation of how this totally different than writing “My Sister Has Stank Breath” across your chest with a BIC ink pen before you go to the city pool because you want to embarrass her in front of Cody, the cute boy from Kindergarten who always has little Debbie’s Snack Cakes.
On Monday, Cracklebone had an emergency surgery.
Today, he worked his non-surgical magic on my leg and I’m fine – well, as fine as it can be considering the magic trick involves a huge needle being jammed behind my knee cap. He did proclaim nothing seemed to be broken. He then declared me medically unfit and “too damn old” to be playing Jane of the Jungle.
“Too damn old” that’s what he said.
You know what – screw him.
I’ll wait a week and try it again.
After all, I want to live life to the fullest, be adventurous, seize the day, just do it and all that other platitudinal bullshit… of course, next time, I may not jump from quite so high and will probably wear a helmet and knee pads.