It started with a pickle jar — glass, too heavy for an under-ten-year-old girl who still only skated in her great grandmother’s kitchen with the plastic toy roller skates, and always killed the fish said great grandmother bought her because she forgot to feed them.
The Pickle Story is not for the fainthearted.
There are two occurrences, but the lesson not learned is the exact same… and they can only be told about as one.
(Because otherwise, no one will think I didn’t learn the lesson.)
As a kid, I really, really loved dill pickles. The late Mama Lois would often have them in her refrigerator in this great, big, glass jar — I ate them a lot, and she and her late husband, Papa Al[1. I used to think his name was “Papa Owl”, so I would say “Owl” instead of “Al”.], loved pickles, too.
I was dropped off often, ’cause, well, my mom liked having kids, but she didn’t wanna raise ’em… and I was a little girl, so she wanted to party. Thus, in my great grandparents’ house in Seagoville, Texas, where seagulls apparently did not fly, and the dinosaur mascot was apparently not real, I had my fish that I always accidentally killed and had to flush down the toilet[2. Mama Lois eventually gave up, saying, “Now, these angelfish and goldfish here are the last batch. If they die, I’m not buyin’ ya anymore. Spoiler alert: She was for-cereals. No matter how much I cried, she didn’t buy me anymore fish. Because I forgot to feed them; they were my responsibility.], my Baby Bop costume from Halloween, my Barney movies, my own room with my own [very old-fashioned] television[3. It didn’t have a remote. I had to get up to change the channels, and it was so big and had to sit on the floor. I just had basic channels — like PBS and whatever channel One Life to Live and All My Children came on — but… well, that was the bee’s knees back then, because Out of the Box, Arthur, Sesame Street, and other series.], and my plastic toy skates kitchen-skating hobby to keep me company.
I was also allowed to water the plants — the grass, the trees, the flowers — on select days. I felt like it was my duty to make sure they got water, because that was what they needed to grow, I was told, and the Texas rain wasn’t doing its job, so someone had to — why not Suzie Kitten[4. I had a cat named Suzie who hated my mom and lard… and maybe my oldest (younger) brother, if he was alive (b. 1997) then. I’d roll Kleenex tissues into a rectangle and tuck it under my shorts on my back to give the impression that I had a tail, and crawl around and meow and lick my hands, or “paws” — I seriously believed I was a cat, though; I’d pretend I was Suzie’s kitten.]?
A lot of pickles were necessary. And tomatoes. And peanut butter and jelly sandwich ingredients.
(I haven’t always been allergic to nuts, just like I haven’t always despised tomatoes.)
One day, I wanted some pickles, but it was the time of Mama Lois’ soaps, and Papa Al was out for whatever reason. Back then, when Mama Lois’ soaps were on, you didn’t talk to her unless you were about to be murdered by something, or else you’d face a wrath similar to that of Sandy Cheeks’ (sans violence).
I did what any stubborn, under-ten-year-old girl who really wanted pickles and couldn’t wait because she was going to die if she didn’t have them right then would do: I opened the fridge and picked the monstrous jar that was basically twice as heavy as me up from the shelf as best I could.
I thought to myself, “I totally got this!”
But I didn’t.
My big right toe faced the wrath of the heavy pickle jar as glass broke, and out came a shriek before I burst into full-blown tears. Glass was everywhere, and my beloved Mama Lois turned her attention from the television and was in there, with shoes on, picking me up from my place before the open refrigerator and trapped by the debris of the horrendous pickle jar that tried to kill me, and setting me on the carpet floor of the living room. My toe was grotesque — it is where the bottom of the pickle jar hit — and the other toes were bad, but their toenails weren’t completely gone.
I can still remember the way my toe felt, and that it quickly turned purple; Mama Lois cleaned and bandaged it up with lots of hydrogen peroxide, Band-Aids, Neosporin, and love. Afterward, she cleaned up the mess and grabbed a pickle from an already-opened pickle jar living on a higher shelf for me to eat.
She wasn’t mad.
I healed completely within a year. I couldn’t wear socks at first, because it hurt too much. Maybe I broke it, Idunno. Mama Lois was old-fashioned and believed I’d be fine.
A few years later, however, it happened again. I’m not sure if it was before or after Papa Al passed away, thus I also don’t know if it was still in Seagoville or if it was in Wills Point, so I can’t give an approximate timeline. I was still under ten years old, I know that.
I also dropped it on the same toe.
Mama Lois was not upset — she was patient… at least, with/to me she was[5. Because I was the favorite. But I was also the first-born, so that could have been why.~] — but she did tell me not to do it again and asked, “Did you not learn from last time?!” as kindly as any frustrated adult could ask without yelling.
I am still stubborn.
I still pick up heavy things.
But I am careful. If I don’t feel I can lift it, I say I can’t.
…Except when I don’t and try to will myself to be able to handle it anyway.
(Perhaps I should work on that.)
Got any too-stubborn-for-your-own-good stories to share? 😅