My doctor had a goatee, and back in the 70s, a goatee really meant only one of two things: Mad scientist or escaped Nazi war criminal.
I do believe he was both.
Forty years ago sometime this week - I can no longer remember if it was August 13th, 14th, or 15th because I'm old and have destroyed a lot of brain cells, but anyway it was somewhere around today - I had the cast on my arm removed after six long weeks.
I have a great photo of me
sitting shirtless on my front porch
with my arm in the cast, but
I'm at work and it's at home
so you'll have to imagine my
lopsided pigtails and missing front teeth
So my arm had been encased in plaster for a good chunk of the summer, not getting any sun, or exercise, or ventilation.
I went to the doctor's office with my mom on the day it came off. I lay on a table, and Dr. Hussussian (great mad scientist name, yeah?) took a little power saw that looked like an electric pizza cutter and sliced the cast down the middle, destroying some of the signatures from friends and family I had spent the summer collecting, but what did he care, he had a goatee and probably had a good evil laugh over it later, seated around a table with his henchmen.
But I digress.
Anyway, when my arm emerged from its plaster coccoon it was white and shriveled and bent at a weird angle. Also, it was set off nicely by two long rows of stitches around my elbow.
My mom nearly fainted.
Needless to say, after a few days my arm regained its color and general form. But I still have the scars from the stitches. And to this day I can't fully bend or fully straighten that arm. I seem to have suffered some kind of nerve damage, because while I have full sensation in my right arm, it can't really feel pain, which isn't as much a plus as you might imagine.
When I started third grade a few weeks later, I had to sit out an entire semester of gym while my arm recovered. Whatever budding athletic ability I might have had (it wasn't much, but I really enjoyed gymnastics) withered during the interval, never to return. And I learned to self-identify as "the kid with the funny arm."
When I had my own child, I never let her jump off a swing. Ever.
The moral of the story is: Sometimes you can't identify the forces that end up shaping your life. But sometimes you can.
Happy anniversary to my janky right arm.