I never planned on being basically nude, face down on a mattress, in the living room with The OLDS on top of me, but nevertheless… that was where I ended up.
It had been a terribly hot weekend, and after a few too many hours of working in the yard, I had a serious sunburn on my back, the likes which I hadn’t seen, since a horrible tanning incident, circa 1977, when I was thirteen and convinced that if I baked all day long in baby oil and iodine, I would have a lush coco butter tan by the time I hit the “Skateway” to boogie down that evening.
Unfortunately for me, I did not make it to the “Skateway” or wear my beautiful butterfly sleeve top or my size one, pale butter yellow, Chemin de fer jeans or make out with my “dream date” which was all included in my evening’s fantasy… because instead… I spent the entire night crying on the bathroom floor… with my mother shouting “I told you so!” as she wiped down my severely burned skin with cool vinegar rags, as my brother stood in the doorway laughing at me.
My present burn, unlike the one so many years ago, was purely physical and did not carry the same emotional and psychological punch that my thirteen-year-old self had to endure but still… the pain was excruciating.
The first day, I used ice packs and Aloe Vera plant to soothe myself and by that evening, I believed that I was over the worst of it, really on my way to being fine.
But by midnight, I soon realized that it was going to be a sleepless night and that I had underestimated the intensity of the injury. My tender skin, so very inflamed, burned hot against the stiff cotton sheets and by morning… I was not only still in pain… but now itchy and very fussy from a night of no sleep.
I spent the morning, floating in the shade of our pool, grumpy, yet sated, by the relief the cold water provided, until the sun came over the top of the house and made it impossible to be outside without feeling the heat sear into my already tender skin.
Like Nosferatu, I hissed and crawled off into the house, where I spent the afternoon applying soothing balm to my back but each time I touched my bright pink skin, my finger tips would stimulate the already inflamed nerve-endings and cause everything to itch.
By dinner time… I was going out of my mind and that is when I made an impulse decision that would result in my ultimate psychological and physical downfall.
Unable to stand it any longer I turned the shower on full blast cold, stripped out of my clothes, and rushed to stand under the jet.
For a moment… it was beyond amazing….. the ice cold water hit my back and soothed my burned skin, the blast of the jet scratched every itch that had threatened to drive me insane… it felt better than anything I could have imagined and I wondered why I hadn’t thought of this idea before.
I was ecstatic.
By the time I stepped out of the shower I felt that I had this sunburn thing licked.
Why hadn’t anyone ever told me how easy it was to stop the itching and the pain?
Why did people suffer so when relief was just a cold shower away?
I wiped my back gently with the towel and began to slather a nice aloe cream over my entire body feeling… dare I say it? Very pleased with myself.
I was about mid-way through my routine when I felt the itch kick back in with a fury that was unparalleled.
And at that moment… I realized that I had made a terrible, terrible mistake.
The shower? The jets? Had been one of the stupidest ideas of my adult life.
It had electrified every tender nerve-ending into action.
The temporary relief it provided was now gone and the itch that replaced it was escalating in waves of intensity that was driving me to complete madness.
I was in tears as I rubbed against a dry towel, raked my shoulders with a hairbrush, slapped at my back with a t-shirt all the time begging God for relief until finally I threw a light shift on and a pair of panties, slipped into my sandals, and ran bra less to the car to see the Rite Aide pharmacist.
“Where ya going?” Ernie The Old, shouted as I rushed past him sitting quietly reading on the front porch swing.
I blasted out some inaudible muddle of words as my boobs jiggled past and watched as his eyes grew large and round… not sure what the hell was going on… but obviously excited I was willing to provide a show.
“Hootchie Cootchie!” he shouted out, making fun of my “barely there” attire.
I jumped into the car, hit the ignition and rolled down the window, “You shut up OLD MAN!” I screeched and watched as Ernie made an “Ooooh” face with his mouth, giggled, tapped his forehead in a “tip of the hat” gesture and then went back to reading his stupid Clive Cussler novel.
“Fucking OLD,” I whispered to myself as I floored it.
I think I would have run over anyone that had been in my way that day.
In fact, I think I would have ran every light if they had been red.
But luck was with me as I raced into the Rite Aide parking lot.
I threw the mini-van into the stall, grabbed a handful of money from the cubby by the steering wheel, jumped out, running pell-mel to the back of the store, to the pharmacy.
I watched as my little Asian pharmacist man looked up from reading a prescription and stood there, mouth hanging agape, basically dumbfounded, as he studied me, the almost naked woman with large bouncing breasts, rushing towards him full throttle.
To this day, I will swear, that “Brick House” was the actual muzak playing over the Rite Aide speakers, creating the background ambiance to this scene, but of course, I was delusional at this point and God knows what was really going on.
I threw my chest onto the counter and reached to grab him.
He took one step back and looked at me as if I was an interesting science experiment that he preferred not to be a part of.
“Can I help you?” He said calmly.
I cried and shouted, wailed and pleaded in what seemed to me was an eternity but was really just a matter of seconds.
I thought he was oblivious to my pain… he seemed “unmoved” by my rant but then he stepped forward, reached under the counter, and held up a can of numbing spray that he told me to apply as soon as I got home.
I looked at him as if he were insane.
WHEN I GOT HOME?
I snatched the can from his hands, threw the wad of money at him, and popped the top as I ran back through the store, spraying myself the entire time as customers, former students and their parents, watched their favorite teacher, Ms. Wood, make a total burlesque jiggly-wiggly naked spectacle of herself and you know what? I could of given a fuck.
If anyone had tried to stop me or pry that can from my hands I can tell you right now they would have lost most of their teeth and maybe even a limb.
I believe everyone in that store at the time sensed this dangerousness about me and so waited for the woman, who had become a wild animal, to exit the premises, before returning to their shopping, so that they were not maimed in the incident and part of Tim Grobaty’s Press Telegram article the next day which would read:
MAN LOSES HIS LIMBS AFTER TRYING TO CALM MOSTLY NAKED BELOVED SCHOOL TEACHER WHO OBVIOUSLY LOST HER MIND WHILE MAKING A PURCHASE IN THE RITE AIDE.
I jumped back into the car, fired it up, and drove home still spraying my shoulders.
I was sobbing by the time I arrived.
The spray had not yet provided relief and so I raced up the porch steps, pulled my dress over my head and threw my naked self down on the dog mattress in the living room and did the only thing left to do: cry for my mom.
My mom (the other OLD in this scenario) rushed towards me and screamed, “For God’s sake child!” before she snatched the can from my hand and ordered Ernie to hold me down and spray me while she rushed off to grab the vinegar and the rags from the kitchen.
The next thing I knew I had one Old basically sitting on top of my head spraying my back with numbing cream and another Old sitting on my ass gently dabbing me down with vinegar.
It was horrific.
I couldn’t even imagine what someone would think if they walked in: bad 70’s fetish porno is what immediately came to mind.
But what could I do?
I surrendered myself to the moment… knowing that when all else fails… parents have basically seen and been through everything.
I had to accept that The Olds knew exactly what to do.
A moment later… the numbing spray kicked in and my mood calmed as I asked The Olds to “remove themselves from my person.”
That was when I realized that Ernie had basically seen me in all my glory.
I asked my mom to please hand me my shift, and prudishly put my arm over my breasts and with my other hand, placed the dress over my head.
Soon I was covered again, and a bit embarrassed about my recent state of insanity, apologized to The Olds as I took my numbing spray and went to lie down in my bedroom and rest, but not before I heard Ernie say to my mom, “Like mother like daughter.”
Something in me actually winced.
I was afraid to look around to catch the exchange but I couldn’t stop myself.
I prayed to God that he meant I was as stubborn as her… as crazy as her…. as unwilling to ask for help as her… but as I turned around to look, I saw him wink at her and raise his hands to jiggle and wiggle his “pretend” breasts.
It was horrific.
The idea of The Olds working the “hootchie coochie” was beyond my grasp.
“Not in front of the child!” I shouted, which only made them giggle as they headed off to get ice cream together.