lemon drops
July 12, 1982 11:05 AM

I broke my ankle jumping off a card table [onto a stack of mats; I'm not an idiot, you know] at a community meeting. I was seven years old, and I think we were pretending to fly.

I walked on it. I remember it hurting a great deal, but you can be young enough to not realise how much things are supposed to hurt. Children can tolerate more pain because of this. [This is purely theory, with no basis in fact, but it makes it even sadder to think that when you beat kids, that's the amount of pain they come to expect. That's horrible. Horrible.]

So I walked, and I whined quite a bit, and cried. And my parents didn't take me to the hospital, possibly because I whined and cried but still walked. And I kept whining and crying until one of my parents told me to think about someone else who was worse off than I. Then I cried about that, even more.

Until we finally went to the doctor. Not to the emergency room, not at first. To the pediatrician, the next day, during office hours. We were sped off to the hospital and my mother, who does not remember this, insisted on carrying me despite offers of wheelchairs and such.

My mother doesn't remember anything the way I do. Maybe these things never happened.

They put me in a huge cast, huger than wading boots, that turned my entire leg into a half-bent swinging pendulum of cat-crushing destruction. Or something like. And my leg stayed half-bent for six weeks or so, seemingly preposterous for a mere broken ankle, but military hospitals have always been known for either over- or under-treating.

Every week we drove to Portsmouth, across the tunnel with the naval yards and the riverbanks that burned for wars. Doctors made woodpecker knocks on my hollow-sounding leg, and I swung on my crutches. Pigtails. Terry cloth sunsuits that tied on little shoulders (something actually cute that came out of the 1980s, but those have never been revived).

But the highlight. The very very best part of the summer of swimming in a garbage bag and no girl scout camp (a whole year without singing "Green and Yellow"!). Was the bag of sour lemon drops my father would buy downstairs at the hospital.

They were nothing special, just candy lemon drops. They're probably still a dollar a bag.

We'd eat almost enough to get sick as we drove home.

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