Memories are made of delightfully vicious games, ever-raw scrapes and that BGE box


March 25, 2007|By JANET GILBERT

When was the last time you really needed a Band-Aid?

It doesn't count if you have extremely dry skin on your hands, and you've currently bandaged your knuckles so they don't crack and bleed. Sorry, that's not an injury -- that's a chronic, age-related condition that's not going to go away until the seasons change. And it won't be fooled by the recent acceleration of the onset of daylight-saving time, either.

What I'm looking for is evidence of the caliber of injury sustained during childhood. The Janet's World Department of Memories Research has determined that many of us over age 40 spent 87.7 percent of our formative years falling out of trees; tripping up or down flights of stairs; running into large, immovable objects such as sheds or grills during night games of tag; or having our fingers slammed in car doors and pinched in rickety wooden step ladders.

As a child, I was aware of the location of my coccyx bone. When I had a headache, I had an accompanying visual: a big, mottled egg protruding like a third Sci-Fi eye on my forehead. I was always limping home to tape up my knees or put ice on some ballooning limb or stanch the bleeding from my head -- and dashing back to the site of the injury to "keep playing."

I lived, and paraded the scars around the neighborhood like the Purple Heart or the Silver Star.

"This one I got from ice-skate keep-away with Charlie Russo's hat at Loft's Pond."

"This one I got when I skidded off my bike into a parked car on Devonshire Road."

I think I speak for most of us when I say we would trade our trick knees and stiff necks and carpal tunnel syndrome any day for a good-old, short-term street abrasion. You know, the kind you get when your friend is pulling the wagon down the driveway and you're grabbing on to the rim with your two hands while you sit on your sister's tricycle. And then the tricycle goes flying out from under you but you hold on just a bit more to get some air before you come to an unfortunate scraping halt.

"AAAAH!" you scream, running into the house. "I'll be right back -- I gotta get a Band-Aid!"

I was reminded of this pain the other day when my neighbor's daughter fell and cut her knee on some jagged, rusty protuberance while jumping down from the electrical box. Never mind that her parents are always cautioning, "Don't play on the electrical box."

I hate to break it to you, BGE, but the electrical box has been, from time immemorial, a large, sturdy, inviting green box the perfect size and shape for the "base" in a game of tag. It also makes a nice stage from which to belt out show tunes. It is the platform from which all neighborhood races are properly, authoritatively judged.

It is the lookout on the good ship childhood.

I have fond memories of the electrical box. It was "the jail" where I recovered during games of bicycle ring-a-levio. Bicycle ring-a-levio was a delightfully vicious childhood game that involved not only riding up to an opposing team member and yanking him off his bicycle, but holding on to him while you shouted: "Caught! Caught! Ring-a-levio! One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three."

I could usually wrest myself away before the lengthy chant was completed -- so what if I lost a sleeve or pant cuff or a small unnecessary appendage? I had to be injured to be captured, and that is why the electrical box is such a strangely comforting sight to me, even today. It was there that I recharged for the next round.

My lower back sort of aches, from scrubbing the bathrooms yesterday. I think I'll lie down on the electrical box for a while.

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