Friday, January 13, 2012
New Boots—Watch Your Step
I have new boots. I've never been one to care about boots and have only kept a dusty pair in the closet for those few days a year when I would shovel deep snow from the driveway. But now that I have a dog, I think I might be trudging through snow and sludge much more often than in previous years—so, boots. I like them. In fact, I put them on today just to break them in a little, even though I probably won't be going out until the current snowfall subsides. Baxter seems content to romp around on the patio on his own, so I'll stay warm and dry for as long as I can today.
But when I put on my new boots this morning, a terrible image flashed through my mind, one that might keep me from wearing them inside for much longer, or at least keep me from wearing them while walking downstairs. I have a bad association with boots and stairs, you see.
When I was in fifth grade, I lived in a neighborhood filled with kids, and we would invent games to play, like jump rope in the street or hide-and-seek in all the yards at night and war. We would pick someone's basement, one that was marginally finished, and we would pretend to hunt each other down like the allies versus the axis, the Yanks versus the Nazis. There weren't any rules, really, you just used your imagination, stalked behind couches and furnaces, looking for the enemy and acting out a shooting right through the dirty Kraut's pointy helmet.
One winter day as our school bus approached our stop, Linda from next door asked if I wanted to go to her house and play war. So, I climbed off the bus, ran home to drop off my books, and I put on my boots. Wearing boots would be more effective in the game, I thought, as if my snowboots even remotely resembled army boots from 1942. I went across the street to Linda's house, and she had a snack ready. We would be eating orange Jello during the skirmish, so I took my bowl of Jello and headed for the basement. Linda went down the steep carpeted steps first, and then I followed, not holding on to any rail because of the Jello.
One of my clunky boots caught on the carpet, and I fell head over heal toward the bottom with nothing to stop me. I dropped the Jello on my way down, bounced on a few steps, tried to stop myself with my right hand and then slammed my skull on the cement floor at the bottom. It all happened very quickly, but it felt as if I were tumbling in slow motion, seeing every step and feeling every painful landing.
When I hit the floor, I screamed and grabbed my arm, although I was sure I must have had a concussion, I hit my head so hard. Linda screamed, too, and immediately ran and got ice to put on my arm. Both of our mothers were at work, so she called the next-door mother who was off that day, and Mrs. Quigley came running. She also called my mother at work, and Mama got there as quick as she could.
The ladies got me to the car, and my mother rushed me to the doctor's office. No one bothered with my head, but it was clear I had broken my arm pretty badly. In trying to stop my fall, I jammed my arm bone into my hand, breaking something in the wrist and possibly stunting growth in my arm. and the pain was more than I can say. I was sent to the hospital for an x-ray and then given a cast and a sling.
My mother made most of my clothes then, so she used scraps from my school dresses to make matching slings, and I had one for every day of the week. I did all of my homework writing with my left hand, which earned points with my teacher, Mr. Shumway, and I never missed a beat.
After six weeks, the cast came off, and my arm went on to grow normally with no permanent damage, but boots and stairs still give me the shivers. With my level of grace and poise, I think it best I save my new boots for snow shoveling and dog walking outside, and I definitely should not carry a bowl of orange Jello when I should be holding onto the rails.
at 12:54 PM