Humor Magazine

Rub A Little Dirt On It

By Pearl

Despite their belief that doctors were necessary only in the face of unstoppable bleeding or the inability to draw breath, my parents weren’t bad people.
Cheap, maybe.  Young and over-worked, maybe.  But bad?
I tease them, of course, remind my mother of the day she heated the ear medicine in a sauce pan on the stove, causing the rift in my brain that is no doubt the root cause of my love of shows like “Cops” or “Hoarding: Buried Alive”.  I like to remind her of the out-of-place knuckles she jerked back into place while she diverted my attention with the horrified cry of "Pearl!  What's that behind you?!"
I like to remind her of the days I stayed home with pink eye or other such childhood crud only to be forced into manual labor.
You may be too sick to go to school, young lady, but you’re never too sick to rake that shag carpeting.
It’s been a long process – often involving drunken feats of strength and home-made fudge – but I’ve worked my way through the home-cures of my youth.
I'm better now.
So you can imagine my surprise when I came to find out that my cousins Candace and Susan's mother was likewise casual in the ways of medicine.
In some ways, of course, we have Krista to blame.  After all, if she wouldn’t organize the Cousins' Reunion, we wouldn’t be sharing the stories of our tormented childhoods.
We were sitting in at a large table of cousins.  I was finishing a recitation of my and-then-my-mom-set-my-disjointed-fingers-with-a-quick-snap story when Candace reaches for her beer.
And Candace and Susan lock eyes.
“Tell her,” Susan says.
“Tell me what?” I say.
Candace, a beautiful woman with clever blue eyes, smiles.  “I can beat your knuckle story,” she says.
And she leans forward. 
And suddenly a scene from the movie “Jaws” comes to mind; and in a tone reminiscent of Quint’s story of the torpedoing of the Indianapolis, Candace sets down her beer, the lights go dim, the room silent, and somewhere from the back comes a ghostly whistling…
'Farewell and adieu to you fair Spanish ladies...'

“We were horsing around, me and my dad,” she says.  “I was a tomboy, 8?  10?  Always jumping around.  I was grabbing on to his arms, pulling at him, running away and coming back to grab and pull some more.  Well, he grabs my arm back, and I twist – and my elbow slides up my upper arm.”
She pauses, takes a drink while that bit of imagery sinks in.
“It what now?”  I say.  “Your elbow did what?!”
She shakes her head, an eerie smile on her lips.  The hanging light over our table begins to sway.  A whale’s song is heard in the background.
“Weirdest thing,” she says.  “It wasn’t broken.  Honestly, I don’t remember what it was.  Except that it was awful-looking.  And that it hurt.”
The room goes quiet.
“So?” The room yells.  “What happened?”
Candace smiles.  “What do you think happened?”
I shake my head, grinning.  “Your mom didn’t boil up any ear medicine, did she?”
Candace laughs.  “Nope.”
A look passes between Candace and Susan.  Susan nods, ever-so-slightly.
Candace leans forward: “My mom wraps a dish towel around it.”
The room erupts in exclamations:  A dish towel!  Ah-ha-ha-ha!  There are several minutes of pandemonium before we settle down. 
“A dish towel,” I prompt.  “Then what?”
Candace shrugs, smiling.  “What could we do?  It was 6:00.”
We all stare at her. 
“Dinner’s at 6:00,” she says.  “The Emergency Room visit will be after dinner.”
She takes another pull at her beer and grins.  “You didn’t think that anything could interfere with dinner at 6:00, did you?”

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