I am so dating myself here, but when I was a kid, my family loved to watch The Carol Burnett Show, which I hope was genuinely as funny as we thought, but I’d be a little scared to watch it now in case it wasn’t. One of our favorite characters was an ancient crone, played by La Burnett, who was stooped and moved in slow, miserable discomfort and who would occasionally murmur, “I get hurt a lot.” Some slick young man (usually played by Harvey Korman) would assure her that she was silly to fret–no one was going to hurt her. And, of course, she would brutalized in various ways over the next five or ten minutes, just beaten up and battered, and no one would really notice or feel sorry for her.
Anyway, I was thinking of this recently as I surveyed my many wounds. I get hurt a lot too.
I’m klutzy for one thing. Especially when I’m overtired. I think doorways move in our household: one second you’re moving safely through one of them and the next–wham!–the edges catch your elbow or ankle. (I am grateful that I’m past the stage where I carry infants through doorways because I have a couple of shameful memories of knocking a tiny head or foot against a doorjamb. Don’t tell anyone. Actually, that might explain a lot about my kids.) And our house is usually a mess, with laundry baskets, ottomans, and dog toys lurking in various unexpected spots, waiting to bruise an unsuspecting calf or shin.
Right now my feet are covered in blisters. Not from the lovely high heeled shoes I wore to my big NYC event. Nope, from a pair of Converses that I had just bought and was in the process of breaking in. “They’re pinching a little, but I can wear them to walk the dog,” I said to myself last week and set off up the hill to walk the dog. By the time I made it home, my feet were a mashed-up hash of broken blisters and swollen toe joints. I went off to New York with bandaids basically holding my feet together. The first time I woke up in the hotel bed, I had to crawl back under the covers to find the bandaids that had rubbed off during the night. No maid should have to come across those while making the bed.
But mostly I burn myself. Not on purpose, I swear, although you’d have your suspicions if you saw the side of my hand. It’s just . . . I bake a lot. And I’m the kind of person who rushes through tasks. Now any good baker knows that you can’t just time your cake or brownies or whatever: you judge when they’re done by the smell, the look, and, most importantly, the feel of the product. So at some point toward the end of the baking process, I open the oven door, stick my hand in to gently press the top of the cake or whatever, and decide if it’s done or not. And nine times out of ten, because I’m moving too fast, I knock my hand against the oven rack as I withdraw it. The last time I did it, my hand was damp and I literally heard it sizzle. Hearing your own flesh make a lovely cooking noise is beyond creepy. I ended up with two angry painful red welts on the side of my hand, one of which still isn’t fully healed. The other is still red, but I know it will fade to a silvery white like all the other little scars I have on the side of my right hand, and up my forearm.
Guess what my husband and my teenage son got me for Mother’s Day this year? Oven mitts. Both of them. Two from my husband, two from my son who was traveling and didn’t know my husband had already gotten them for me. I may get hurt a lot, but at least I’m loved. I haven’t had the heart to tell them that you can’t wear the oven mitts when you’re checking the top of a cake for doneness.