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 Texas : Features : Columns : Spunky Flat and Beyond :

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by George Lester
George Lester
If a boy gets into his teens without a broken arm, he is lucky. I wasn't. It happened to me when I was twelve. My cousins and I had a bag swing, an old burlap sack stuffed with corn shucks, tied to a tree limb in a vacant lot next to their house. Looking back, I can see it was one of the dumbest things we ever did. Just swinging on it was far too mild for us, so we built a scaffold about six feet high. The trick was to have someone swing the bag, and when it reached the right spot, one of us would leap and catch it in mid air, making us feel sort of like Tarzan. We got away with it for a long time, but my luck ran out after a while. I misjudged the distance and grabbed thin air instead of the bag. I knew by the sound that my arm was broken as soon as I hit the ground. I was lucky that was all I broke that day; it could have been my neck. My cousin came over to have a look, and he almost fainted when he saw it. In fact, I didn't want to see it myself. I held my broken right arm under my left to hide it when I went to tell my aunt about it. I was spending a few summer days with her and my cousins in Vivian, Louisiana. I don't recall it hurting all that much, although I'm sure it is just that time erases pain from one's memory. The doctor took one look at it and decided that I had to be rendered unconscious before he could set it. In those days ether was the anesthesia of choice. I had an earlier experience with the procedure when my tonsils were removed, and I remembered the ether hangover being very unpleasant. But I had no choice. I can still see in my mind the weird dream I had while I was under. I had a vision of a man and a woman being pulled behind a motorboat on something that resembled water skis. What is really strange is that water skis hadn't been invented at that time. The couple in my dreams was wearing what looked like fig leaves, nothing else. I only waved at them as they passed, but I presumed they were Adam and Eve.

When I came out of the ether, the first thing I did was look down to make sure the doctor hadn't taken off my trousers. Even under these emergency circumstances, I was very shy about such things. When I found that I was still fully clothed, I got the pillow from under my head, got up, and staggered toward the exit. The doctor and my aunt arrived just in time to keep me from falling down a flight of stairs. The resetting of the broken bones had been much more difficult than predicted. I was told later that my arm was stretched in ways that looked impossible. I was glad I wasn't awake to see it. The next morning I felt a lot better, and my appetite returned. However, being right-handed made eating breakfast a real challenge. Try buttering a biscuit using one hand - your wrong hand - sometime and you'll see what I mean!

For a while I favored the broken arm and kept it in a sling as the doctor ordered, but that didn't last long. In less than two weeks, I was out romping with my cousins and using the broken arm almost as if nothing had happened. The sling was discarded even sooner. While it lasted, the broken arm was a badge of honor, and I was glad to tell everyone how it happened. But until now I never told anyone about Adam and Eve on water skis.
George Lester
Spunky Flat and Beyond - A Memoir
- May 1, 2006 column

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