Accidents and other stuff

To the Editor

The neighbour kid came over the other day with his arm in a sling. Seven or eight years old and it’s the second time he’s broken that arm! With me it was never like that; no such luck. I couldn’t get a broken arm if my life depended on it. A few days off at school and some fuss made over my bruises was all I asked! To this day many years later I have yet to break an arm or anything else! I couldn’t get sick either; still can’t. Couldn’t get that mandatory two weeks off at school for having the mumps or whooping cough like every other Haliburton kid back in the 1950s. Trouble was my mother was a nurse and she knew all the tricks all the symptoms; she ensured I had regular check-ups which prevented most illnesses I might have contracted.

I did manage a cut under my right foot; something I stepped on whilst running around barefooted. Doctor Carol touched it with iodine bandaged it and decreed I stay off my feet and crawl around on my hands and knees for a week so it could heal – much to my mother’s chagrin and my delight. It meant I could play with my toy soldiers in the dirt and mud without Mom ordering me not to. Hey – a few minutes of fame out of that one – and still have the scar to prove it! Later on I remember wandering in some nice long grass somewhere between the highway and the rail track in front of what is now Baked and Battered. Stubborn grass too because a particular straw wouldn’t let loose when I grabbed it so I took my trusty blade and slashed it – only to miss and slash my left forefinger instead and cause a bit of a bleed.
Didn’t get more than five minutes of attention out of that one – but again I have the scar to prove it. Then there’s Mother with her advice: If you get a mosquito bite – don’t PICK it when it itches – leave it alone! When I managed to get a bite by that nasty nemesis in the right forearm I wondered what would happen if I did pick it; pick it I did – pick pick pick! It bled a little and still itched! A red streak ebbed up my arm – blood poisoning! Alas as luck would have it Mother caught it in time. I remember a lot of scalding hot water salt and bathing until the red marks went away. Hardly any fame in that one although I still have the mosquito scar!

I remember that time at the Victoria Street School Grade 5 Doug Kenning’s class during a recess precisely at the back of the room by the fire-escape. I was with my favourite girl! I’d just traded Greg three comic books so he would stop being her boyfriend stop talking to her stop walking with her carrying her books or anything else – because I had a mad crush on her. I guess we were having a lover’s spat such as it was in those days: I was vying for her attention by annoying her. My usual persistent ploys of pulling her hair stealing her pen grabbing her notebook challenging her to get it back. Finally she grabbed her protractor and jabbed me in the wrist! I bled a little; I was in seventh heaven – finally – five minutes of her attention and fussing and listening to her say those words: “Jeez I’m sorry!” Remembering all this I reminded her of this incident just the other day; I even pointed out the scar she’d given me! Alas she had no memory of the incident!

I just couldn’t break anything or get sick or get much sympathetic attention. A pity too because I was in the best of circumstances – Dad had as many as 17 members in his staff at the restaurant. Most were young women and girls – all ready and willing to fuss and give me all sorts of sympathy. Regrettably wasted! All I had to do was break an arm and get it wrapped in a cast. Or get a sniffle a slight fever or a great hacking cough! No such luck; all I got were a few forgettable minutes of fame here or there.
What can I say? My mother was a nurse! I had no idea how lucky I was…

Ed Burke