Maybe it’s an Allegory? Like a splinter in my ass.
By the end of 1978, life had changed. For the most part 1978 was a good year for a 9-10 year old. I had taken a class in home economics which had changed my life dramatically. By the time I turned ten in December of 1978 I could do my own laundry, cook my own meals, sew buttons and several other household projects. I was a child that had to fend for himself and that meant doing all this, on my own. Being able to cook was the best. Although I received breakfast and lunch at my school, I had to prepare most of my dinners and weekend meals. French Toast was my go to weekend pleasure. 1979 put home ec to the test.
Sometime that winter of 1979 we moved into an apartment complex about a 20 minute walk from Catasauqua Jr. High School. That move was the beginning of some bad times for me. My mother had an affair with our neighbor, he left his wife for her and we had to move in a hurry. So this changed everything. The guy was and is an asshole. Since getting to school took so much longer it gave me a lot of time to think about how much I suddenly hated my life, perhaps a true punk problem.
As it was when I lived closer to the school, I was a good student and once I got there I enjoyed being there, but things would change in 1979. More and more as I took that walk to school in the morning the less I wanted to go to school. Something wasn’t right. My grades were great. I won an award for writing, creating papier-mâché puppets and putting on a puppet show based on the TV show The Munsters. The show included The character of Marilyn, having a baby. “Boil some water and get the dynamite”, was one of the lines from the show. I was involved in a wall mural and had a role in a play based on the science fiction TV show “V”. When I look back this may have been the last good year of school for me.
I had a few painful experiences that year. One got my mother into some trouble. I did my own laundry and prepped for school in the mornings on my own. One morning I was ironing my shirt. I hated wrinkles and ever since taking home ec I liked to look good. As I’m ironing my shirt I reached around the iron the wrong way and burned my entire inside bicep. The burn was the exact shape of the iron. It hurt bad, but I finished ironing my shirt, got dressed and went to school not saying a word to anyone. I made it to school ok and sat through classes in complete pain. Lunch came and I still told no one. It was the class after lunch that I finally couldn’t take it anymore. I raised my hand and asked to go to the school nurse. The burn had oozed through my shirt. It was bad. When the nurse saw it she was shocked. I was embarrassed. I didn’t realize the school administrators were thinking something different. They immediately called my mother and the police. The nurse was asking me who had done this to me. They couldn’t believe I was ironing my own clothing. They assumed I was being abused by someone. My mother was shocked as well. She was asked all about it. They eventually believed me and as far as I know just scolded my mom. I still have some scarring from that.
The second incident occurred in the spring. Every spring the school had a outdoor event day, a fun day. Every class would have their day at the park. The 5th grade class had their day first. The entire 5th grade would walk down to the park, play games, eat lunch and come back to the school for the last class of the day. I looked at it as a day of being forced to play with people you don’t really want to hangout with. Like a work function. When we got to the park most of us went right to the playground which still exists today. I sat on the seesaw with a friend. I remember a larger young girl getting on the seesaw after my friend. I don’t remember names, but I remember what happened next very well. Maybe it was her way of flirting with me or something, but the young girl wouldn’t let me down from the seesaw. She was double my size, very big for a fifth grader. As I sit atop of the seesaw I think, I’m too smart for this girl, and I decide in one swift move to slide down the old wooden seesaw. It happened very quickly. A six inch splinter came off the board and slid right into my ass cheek.
I made no indication that something went wrong. I walked away with a little limp. This moment was a tough one. I quickly decided I wasn’t going to say a word. I felt very embarrassed and thought if anyone knew about this I would be made fun of. I’d be the kid with the splinter up his ass. We had just gotten to the park and this happened. I had to spend the entire day with this gigantic splinter in my ass cheek or risk being made fun of. I did it. I managed to make it through “Fun Day” at the park with a splinter in my ass. The worst was yet to come.
We left the park and walked back to school. That was when the pain started creeping up. I had one class to get through and then a twenty minute walk home back past the seesaw from Hell that did this to me. The last class was top 5, worst things to happen to me as a child. The chair was hard as a rock and splinter was pushing into me. But I could make it. My reputation hinged on it. Splinter boy can do this. The last bell rang and I slowly got up. I just had to get to my locker and out the door.
Five hours later I’m on my way home. I walk past that seesaw with attitude. I can see where the wood splintered off and the color looks lighter and new. The pain has reached a ten out of ten. I have one major hill to get up and I’ll be home, the steepest hill in the entire town. My butt cheek is throbbing by this point. I make it home. I take my pants down and my tighty-whities are bloody with a good size hole in them and the head of the splinter poking through. I get the tweezers, a washcloth, peroxide and start to operate. No one is home so I have no one to explain anything to. I get a hold of the splinter with the tweezers and start pulling on it. The first is about a two inch piece, the second a one inch and the third and last is one inch. Four inches of splinter came out of my ass. I gave it the peroxide treatment and put a bandaid on it.
I never told anyone about that day until the early 1990’s. I was about twenty-four years old, in really good shape probably the best shape of my life and going to the gym daily. I was working some kind of construction or landscaping job and riding my bike home after work when I felt a sharp pain on my buttocks. When I got home I pulled a two inch splinter out of my ass cheek. I had a two inch splinter in my ass cheek for fourteen years. I feel like it was a reminder of that year. A reminder of all the crap I went through and that I made it through.
That year was the beginning of many bad years to come. By the end of 1979 I would move again to an entirely new school district, and then move again to live with my father for a few years in another school district and on and on.
1978-1979 were important years for me and the art I produce today.