The time is somewhere around 1956, although the year doesn’t matter.
Mother and Dad are in the front seat of our big, ol’ hunk of a Ford station wagon and I’m on the bench seat in the back. Whether my older and younger sisters sit alongside me, I don’t recall. Sisters aren’t important in a recollection if they don’t do something to move the plot forward or at least serve as props for the action.
The Ford hums along with Dad at the wheel.
The back seat squeaks. Being a typical six-year-old, I bounce on the seat to make it squeak some more. I discover the seat gives me a little push up into the air with each bounce. Hmm . . . If I make a bigger bounce I’ll have even more fun. I bounce and bounce, my mouth probably open in an expression of glee. (Those were the days! No seat belts to spoil a child’s fun.)
After several bounces, I give it all I’ve got. Up I go and on the way down my chin slaps onto the back of the front seat. I let out a howl that whips Mother’s head around at warp speed.
Blood spurts everywhere!
“Oh George! She’s bit her tongue!”
The next part is a blank. I suppose I’m rushed to emergency. I don’t know if I got stitches. I do remember it hurt really bad.
That night I can’t sleep.
My tongue feels like it’s bigger than I am and it’s throbbing. I cry. I cry louder. Dad comes in to check on me, stopping at the foot of my bed. I can’t see his face as the room is dark. He’s backlit from the light in the living room, giving him the appearance of a huge, black, paper doll.
“Daddy, it hurts! I can’t stand it!”
“Let me look at your feet,” he replies to my cries. I’m confused. What do my feet have to do with anything. It’s my mouth that hurts. I pull the covers off.
Dad glances at my bare feet and exclaims, “No wonder you hurt so much!”
This shocks me out of crying and I’m all ears.
“You don’t have any socks on!” What is he talking about? Socks?
“Where are they? You’re supposed to have socks on. If you put socks on, you won’t hurt so much and you’ll fall asleep.”
I contemplate this logic as he fumbles around in my dresser drawer. Tenderly he slips the socks onto my feet.
“Good night, Susan. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.”
I don’t remember much after that.
I float off to the dreamland of six-year-olds, secure in the knowledge that my father can fix anything, and is, without a doubt, the smartest man in the whole, wide world.