I’ll spare you the monotonous details regarding the build up to 4:15pm Denmarkian time and get straight to the point, the rebirth.
Room 151140 was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, or will ever see again. The room itself felt like 2AM, nary a light, a shadow or Anna Nalick to be found. In the corner of the parlor, barely touching two walls was a rectangular wooden table, a table that would have fit right in if this were ECW in 1995. Resting on top of the table was a ceremonial white sheet, with looming scribbles and spirals in purple, red and fuchsia. A single candle danced like a young ballet dancer doing her first, “Swan Lake” while opaque wax flittered down onto the golden bobeche. The Attractive Nurse from my intermediate past stood on the left side of the table while a man with a hint of scoliosis stood in front with his slightly curved back to me. And if someone had given me a boost I would have seen over his left shoulder the Grandmother Nurse resting on top of the table with both legs in stirrups that looked like they were once used inside a stable. I didn’t need a boost though to hear her, chugging a copious amount of Denmarkian tub whiskey.
Quite a scene.
There was no need to announce my arrival due to the timely PLOP sound of the KY jelly cascading off my nude frame and landing with a thud on the wooden parlor floor. For the past twenty minutes the younger nurse had prepared me for what was to come. How you ask? By placing me in a large size bowl from Pottery Barn and pouring KY jelly over my nude body.
Have you ever heard of Chinese Water Torture?
Well imagine instead of a single droplet of water hitting your restrained face over and over for hours on end you felt KY jelly being poured over your head every forty-five seconds for twenty straight minutes. Imagine the cold gelatinous goo invading every opening on your body. You know how water inside your ear can be a pain? Imagine three pounds of KY jelly.
Now I understood why the Grandmother Nurse told me to mentally prepare myself for this experience. It was brutal. I think it was Fuel who sang,
“Over and over and over again she cries…”
Different context, similar meanings.
With a sharp WAATHANG sound, the Attractive Nurse announced the ritual KY jelly bathing was complete and it was time to move on to the main event. Now there was no way in hell current day Tom Starita could climb out of large pottery bowl full of KY jelly naked. Do you know how slippery that shit is? So you could forget about six year old me navigating the trip over to the table. Physically impossible. With a “tsk tsk,” the Attractive Nurse picked me up over the edge of the bowl and set me down on the cold parlor floor. I watched her glide over to her station and hesitantly made my way over to that table, and my destiny. Every step was a challenge, due to the floor growing more and more covered in goop and the pads of my tiny feet unaccustomed to such a treacherous surface. Finally I stood in front of the man with his back to me and waited.
For whatever reason, there is one specific, tangible item I recall whenever I think of the infinitesimal amount of time that passed between me standing on the floor and me going “back home.” I smelled blueberries.
Blueberries, and not just plural as in five or six. Blueberries the plural, as in the billions. Blueberries as if the entire planet Earth was simply one vast blueberry preserve where little boys and girls could go skipping down dirt paths with reed buckets and crude wooden shoes and pick blueberries until their hearts were full and their eyes soaked in tears of laughter. Their faces slightly besmirched with dirt yet they remain undaunted for they know their lives will be filled with the happiness one only feels when their lives are peaceful and safe.
Blueberries, as in a waterfall with nothing but blueberries going down stream and cascading over the edge of a mountain on a crisp mid-winter’s dawn. The sun a tantalizing shade of saffron announcing to the world that while winter may be in charge of the factory right now, spring and it’s promise of better management with increased health benefits and a better pension were on its way.
Blueberries as in the tears in the eyes of a little boy who watches the girl he thought would one day be his wife and bear his children share her snack pack with Ricky, that hot shot fourth grader. And while the rationale side of his mind knows that true love does not exist in third grade, his heart screams that he will never share that type of deep-seated, awe-inspiring, “tell me all your secrets underneath the monkey bars” love ever again. That little boy knows he’s destined for a life marred by divorce and distant children.
Delicious, mouthwatering blueberries. Blueberries as in, “I need you to go to the local Pathmark right now because God help me now I have a sweet sweet craving for those precious blueberries found only in the grocer’s section” blueberries. And God help the man if he asks her why, after a long day of work must he return back to his motor vehicle and drive to the Pathmark to get these blueberries. For if he does from her mouth will come forth such rage that hasn’t been seen since Juliet was told her Romeo was dead.
I swear to you good friend that then, now and forever more will I never smell such a sweeter smell, such a vivid smell, a smell to rival the kiss of Wesley and Princess Buttercup in “The Princess Bride.” I will go to my grave knowing my sense of smell peaked at the tender age of six.
Then the smell vanished, taken from me like the virginity of a sweet Spanish maiden in the fields of Spain in the year 1382 by a cruel land baron. Taken from me like Snoopy snatching the security blanket from the inconsolable arms of Linus. Taken from me as if Liam Neeson himself had come down from the heavens, reached into my nostrils and declared, “NO MORE WILL YOU SMELL THE SWEET SMELL OF BLUEBERRIES. NO MORE!”
Except it wasn’t Liam Neeson who had perpetuated such a monstrous crime on my person, it was the man with his back to me. Rather, the man who formerly had his back facing me. Now, with such speed to rival Ben Johnson on all the steroids you could inject, he scooped me up in a hand vaguely resembling a frying pan and shoved me feet first into the dark, murky depths of the Grandmother Nurse. The world had gone dark with his hand over my eyes and the last thing I felt in my old life, as six-year-old Tom Starita, was my forehead squeezed in the grip of this man as he popped me back into a place I had lived for nine months.
For although the Grandmother Nurse was not my mother, the old adage remained true,
“It’s all pink on the inside.”