There has been so much research done on seatbelt safety. Everyone knows that seatbelts save lives. That’s a fact. I wear my seatbelt religiously. Someone should have told people that in the early sixties. Because I am damn lucky I didn’t have brain damage.
I mentioned this in a previous post, but in the early sixties, people didn’t wear seatbelts. If a child sat in the front seat, and whoever was driving had to stop quickly, the only thing that stopped the child from going through the windshield was “the arm.” Everyone used “the arm.” My grandmother was driving one time and had to stop quickly. I was sitting there, minding my own business, and all of a sudden her arm came right across my neck/chest area when a car almost hit us. Well, she almost hit a car. Did “the arm” work that time? Oh, hell no. I hit the dashboard, which was made out of steel I think, and the next thing you know, blood was trickling down my face. Did I say trickling? I meant to say oozing, flowing like lava. I exaggerate, of course, but I was a kid and blood was a big deal. A paper cut meant death.
I looked over at Grandma. Oh, Grandma, you are going to be in so much trouble with my mom. Mom didn’t like her inlaws much. And my Grandma was crazy. I mean, like really crazy. She once took a train to Philadelphia by herself to see a specialist because she said there were wires coming down behind her teeth. I am sure there was more to that story, but when you are little, you see crazy, you don’t need an explanation. I’d like to know why my mom let me go anywhere with Grandma Orpha. And now she smashed my head open.
We got back to my grandparents house and my Grandma called my mom. I didn’t understand why she didn’t take me to the hospital. It was obvious I needed a couple of stitches, because, well, I was able to donate blood to several people that day. But, she didn’t take me to the hospital and she didn’t take me home to face the Halloween creepy monster music that was my mother. We went back to her house.
“Vickie, I just talked to your mom, and guess what?” Grandma asked with a smile. A crazy smile.
“What?” She left to go into the bathroom.
“I told her we were having so much fun that you would like to stay all weekend with us.” She came back with a wet towel, a band-aid, and unfortunate for me, some rubbing alcohol. Oh, God, she also had that stupid red metholaid. It burnt so badly. I was soon wearing a bandaid over the corner of my right eyebrow.
I didn’t have a problem with staying overnight. They had a cat. Tommy was a kitchen cat. She stayed in a little nook in her kitchen. She wore a collar and had a little rope that was tied to a serving cart or something. I always untied it and got in trouble for letting her into “the living room.” Besides, the cat, Grandpa had a groundhog that he fed. It was pretty tame. And although Grandpa had 1/2 of a grapefruit every freaking day, he also had white powdered sugar donuts. Plus, they let me stay up to watch Bonanza. Score.
Grandma sent Grandpa to my house to collect a change of clothes or two, pajamas and the needed accessories to spend the weekend. That was good, because I had blood all over my blouse. My mom was not going to be happy. Hell, we had to change if we got a little bit of water on our clothes. We weren’t allowed anywhere near mud. I remember one time a neighbor’s cat pooped in the sandbox and my mom lost her mind. That was the end of the sandbox.
So, I stayed at my grandparent’s house for the weekend. Little did I know that the only reason I stayed there was to cover up my smashed head. My crazy grandma thought that my wound would disappear by Monday morning. Well, it didn’t, and it did leave a scar. And I wasn’t allowed in the car with grandma anymore. And I don’t believe I remember my mom ever saying another word to her. Ever. I’m sure she did, but I didn’t see any eye contact between them. And I was looking. It was Crazy vs. Crazy. It would have been a good fight. Boy, would I have liked to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation.
My mom didn’t use “the arm” with us. The three of us sat in the back seat. We had an old 1955 Victoria convertible or something like that. There was a metal emblem in the middle of the backseat. How stupid. I always had to sit in the middle of the backseat. I don’t know why, but I did. Now, remember, we still didn’t have seat belts, and if there were seatbelts in the car, we never had to wear them.
Now, I will tell you right now, that if I wore a seatbelt, I would have been brain damaged by the time we got rid of that car. When we fought in the back seat, my mom would yell at us to no avail. Then she would use “the arm.” But, this was a different kind of arm. This arm flailed left and right to smack us. It was like her arm was a fly swatter and we were the damn flies. Most of the time I was able to zig and zag because I didn’t have a seat belt on and squirmed all over the backseat while she was driving with one hand and looking to hit with the other. When I tried to avoid “the arm,” my head would snap back and hit the metal emblem in the middle of the backseat. And I would cry. And my mom would always say, “God’s punishing you.” Yeah, ok. You know, whatever.
The thing about “the arm” was that the hand attached to it was creepy. My mom had burned her hand as a child and had a terrible scar swirling around in the palm of her hand. It was ugly. So, we definitely hated it when that thing came at us.
In the end, we survived not wearing seatbelts. The “seatbelt” arm rarely worked, while the “beat the hell out of you” arm worked most of the time, despite the zigging and zagging.
And I still have a scar hiding in my eyebrow to prove that.