Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Skinned Knee Blues

Now, Rachel, she walked on up to us, moping along with skinned knees. Stiff-leg staggering like a Frankenstein, flapping her hands to stay balanced or else stay away the pain, I can’t tell. I don’t know.

And she said moms, I can’t wear pants today and moms, I can’t wear jeans ‘cos… skinned knees.

From where I was sitting, there was not a single drop of blood… or at least none that I could see. Maybe two little matching shiny spots, you know, like where the skin kinda got rubbed away?  Maybe, if I turned my head just so, maybe… Well, it was nothing to call the paramedics over.

But still she was holding back the tears and none too well. And then the color, it drained right out of Dana’s face, and I could see what way things were headed, so I swept up the girl in my arms and I rushed her into the bathroom like she’d come to us with her arm severed or with a sucking chest wound and massive head trauma, instead of just with these… skinned knees.

And I fell back on what I knew. I reached on back into my own past and I brought out what I had seen when it comes to skinned knees. And what I’d seen was that Neosporin and a Band-Aid can cure pretty damn much anything. It can yank a body right back from the very precipice of certain death, hanging on by the fingernails, breaths shallow, whimpering low or screaming out in pain if they’ve still got it in them by then.

But if you’ve got yourself some Neosporin and a Band-Aid or two or maybe three, you slap ‘em on there and then give the tyke some attention and they just might be as right as rain and as good as new to go.

It is something that’s always worked when it comes to skinned knees.

Thing is, it only sort of worked with Rachel.

I said Rachel, have you never skinned your knees before? And she stared on down at the Band-Aids – one on each knee – standing there vacant like she couldn’t walk out and was going to need crutches or hell, I don’t know, a full-body cast or something, and she shrugged.

That’s right, shrugged! This nine-year old girl… Precocious. Boundless energy. Athletic, even. Yet she did not know… she could not recall… she was unsure whether she’d ever before suffered from that old ubiquitous childhood affliction known the whole world over as the skinned knee.  

I spent all my early years running around with skinned knees. Half my life, and every time they’d almost heal to where I’d have those dark, horizontal scab lines coming in, I’d pick them off and let the healing start all over again.

It was the circle of life.

I said as much to Dana, and then Dana said Katy, what the hell were you doing as a kid that you were always getting hurt?

And I thought it over a little and well, I hadn’t really been injured per se. They were only skinned knees. But looking back it seems now like back then it was a whole lot of skinned knees.

What in the world had I been doing?

How does one, in the normal course of one’s daily activities, so to speak, happen to come by quite so many skinned knees? D’I have some kind of balance problem? An equilibrium thing that was never properly diagnosed?

And to be honest, that started haunting me – for a day, for two days, for three days – I’d lie there at night and try to reconstruct in my mind the circumstances leading to those skinned knees of my childhood.

And then, wouldn’t you know it? Roundabout the fourth day of this, they all started coming back to me. All those knees. The skinned knees. I recognized some of them. You were summer of ’91, weren’t you? Or Hey, June of 1994, how ya been?

They’re all kind of like snowflakes, I suppose. No two skinned knees quite the same.

Like there’s I-thought-that-branch-was-strong-enough-to-hold-me skinned knees.

Lookin’-back-to-see-if-that-dog-is-still-chasing-me-while-I’m-running skinned knees.

There’s climbed-up-one-side-of-the-fence-no-problem-but-had-some-trouble-getting-down-the-other-side skinned knees.

And who-the-heck-loosened-my-bike-seat? skinned knees.

No-no-the-side-of-the-bayou’s-not-too-steep-for-me-to-run-down skinned knees.

There’s the my-brother-unexpectedly-launches-a-basketball-at-the-back-of-my-head skinned knees.

Can’t forget the at least fifteen variations on your classic treehouse skinned knees, which I would be glad to chart out for you someday by sub-class, height and time of day incurred.

And then there’s the skateboard skinned knees. All told, I probably I left a pound of flesh and three quarts of blood on various Houston-area half pipes before the day that I turned fourteen. And you know, skateboarding was probably just a bad idea for someone like me. We oughta take some time and compare scars when we get a chance…

But there’s also got-shoved, got-kicked, got-pushed-down-the-stairs skinned knees, and fell-while-doing-various-blatantly-stupid-things skinned knees, not to mention the unicycle, pogo stick, dirt bike, big wheel, and trying-to-ride-the-dog-but-the-dog-doesn’t-want-to-be-rode-today skinned knees.

Why, after a few days of all this recollecting, it was starting to seem like there were more ways for a knee to get itself skinned than there were for a knee to remain unskinned. Like unless you were living some kind of boy-in-the-bubble, padded hallways, Little Lord Fontleroy existence, there was just no way for your knees not to look like the remains of some eighteenth century battlefield by the time you hit puberty and started giving some serious thought to wearing skirts.

Like if you were doing anything at all that was worth the doing, it was practically an inevitability that your knees were going to bear the brunt of it.

And this led me, in turn, when I followed the bouncing ball, to two distressing questions: One was with skinned knees being what they were, how was it my own daughter missed out on them altogether? Two was what had happened to me that I’d now gone so long without skinned knees?

Don’t we take chances? Don’t we do anything outside our comfort zone?

Don’t we ever try and ride the dog?

So here’s a little something, I guess… A little tribute or maybe a toast of sorts in honor of skinned knees and the knowledge that tomorrow, my daughter and I are taking a sheet of cardboard down to Buffalo Bayou so we can sled down its banks.  

Our knees don’t stand a chance.

I have stocked up on the Neosporin and Band-Aids. 


  1. hahaha. Good one. Loved the gif you had added to reassure your parenting skills.
    I cant remember my childhood without these accidents. I was pretty tomboyish and my dad would make sure that there is always a band-aid in my school bag because of my history with accidents. He wouldnt call paramedics but I made sure that I had weekly visits to doctor. Regular customer/patient :)
    Boy will be boys is so yesterday :)

    1. I blew my right hand up once trying to light the powder from inside a large firework using a magnifying glass... in April.

      I was also once hit by a car when my brother and his friends put me in a trash can and rolled me into the street.

      It's been a rough 26 years, now that I think about it.

  2. Katy, I'm a Boomer.

    Skinned knees? We weren't allowed to come back in the house unless a limb was severed - we were virtually banished to the woods out in back of the family-farm until Mom was done with Whatever Moms Did back then.

    Consequently, I learned that skinned-knees did just fine with moss on them. I also learned that an M-80 will cook off methane in an outhouse and sent shithouse-crazy rats running in all directions like a herd of mutant buffalo.

    I learned that a black-plastic shrunken head fit well on a James Bond action-figure from Sears - and that you could create a whole House of Fun around the resulting character.

    I learned how to swordfight from watching "Spartacus" - and the neighborhood kids an' me began holding gladiatorial matches in the back yard until our parents wondered what in the Hell happened to the garbage-can lids.

    Our parents smoked - in the house.

    Neosporin wasn't invented yet. I can remember getting UTI's treated with sulfa.

    So, hey - I'm sure she'll do just fine - but as you pointed out, what they really want - and need - is a little attention.

    And a sledding trip....


    1. I just realized that this blog could sort of be considered a Mother's Day blog entry.

      I'm so domestic.

  3. At least you're not a spider. Else you'd have had eight of them.

    1. Yeah, but tarantulas apparently have the option to jettison a leg or two if they need to - and grow new ones. I don't have that option.

      God knows I would have taken it a few times.

  4. I STILL get skinned knees, usually from something mundane like slamming my knee on a desk I'm working at, sometimes from sexy-fun-time, but yeah, skinned knees are a part of human existence. It's good that you're taking matters into your own hands and ensuring your daughter's knees get wrecked. And Happy Mother's day to you.

    1. Carpet burns was a source of skinned knees I skipped, this was clearly a family-friendly post this week.

      I did think about that scene in the film, "Chasing Amy", where the characters sit around comparing scars (a la "Jaws") that they'd gotten during oral sex.

  5. fell-while-doing-various-blatantly-stupid-things skinned knees =')

    1. If I spend to much time thinking back to my childhood, it starts to feel like one of those episodes all of the TV shows used to do back in the Eighties, where they just show short clips from all their other episodes.

      Except all my character does is fall down and get hurt in various lightly comedic ways.

  6. I'm surprised I even have knees after all the falls I took as a kid. And it was always on asphalt--and not even good asphalt--it was the kind that left these black chunks of tar in your wound. As we speak, the tar is probably still circling my bloodstream adding to my future cancer.

    Good times, good times.

    1. Survival of the fittest dude.

      Not like that girl down the block who took one tumble off a roof and died.

      She won't be passing on her genes.

  7. The life lessons from skinned knees are invaluable. Tried something, didn't work out how I planned, didn't kill me either. Dust yourself off and move on.

    For me it was knife nicks and cuts. This is what happens when you attempt to juggle sharp things, or whittle, or whatever. The good news, we don't have to outgrow skinned knees or accidental cuts. My doctor was amazed I couldn't remember why I had gotten a tetanus shot 2 years earlier. It was somewhere between my recip saw and a woodworking carving knife. When you jab yourself (or fall) weekly, the incidents run together.

    1. I wrote a sentimental blog post, Brent! I am painting in new colors!

      Skinned knees! That's like sentimental middle aged clap trap material.

      But it's a good piece, I think. And the responses have been valid and dead on.

      I go to bed tonight happy.

      And relieved that you don't have lock jaw.

    2. You are a sentimental softie! OK not really, but yes an outstanding bit of prose. You should sleep the sleep of a woman who's knees still have a few scars from a childhood well spent.

    3. I'm all about the family entertainment.

  8. Yeah, kids are weak nowadays. I say this having fathered two kids of my own. Kids are just weak know. It amazes me when I hear of someone going through life not having broken a bone...EVER!! I've broken four bones in my life; yeah I broke them because I was being an idiot, but that's just it. The level of wisdom we acquire in life can only counter the level of idiocy we we have in our youth. Byt that rationale, I'm gonna be a wise-old sage!

    1. A wise old, possibly crippled sage, throwing kids out windows for their own good.

      "What I'm about to do to you is going to hurt like hell, but you'll thank me for it later!"


  9. Heck, let's see...... as a child.... skinned knees were nothing. Learned to piss on dirt, and slap a little on if it was bleeding. Guess I was around three when I tripped on a rock and broke open the skin around my right orbital bone. later on I managed to slash my wrist open doing pull ups in the garage due to a nail.... Got my first concussion when I was riding a barely broke horse and the pheasant decided to get the hades out of where we were, and don't remember walking home from that one. Not to mention riding my bike and smacking face first into a camper trailer.... Hell, I'm surprised I still have some cognitive function.

    Now, since I've been an adult. Left knee ACL tear, Broken left orbital bone. left shoulder at 40 percent, with a tendency to come out. I ought to be in a straightjacket. :)

    1. The last few comments make it sound as though we grew up in the 3rd world. Or during wartime.

      It should also probably be pointed out that a few of the commenters wandering around here lived in a time before state laws required the wearing of seatbelts, airbags... and there were no cell phones, so if you broke down out in the desert or somewhere, buddy, you were vulture food.

  10. Oh god. I should not tell you what happened in childhood. I have scars all over my body.... lived on a hobby farm. I had horses as a kid. My right elbow has a scar on it, where I was dragged, had a dirt bike too, which does not tell you how fearless I was back them. Let's say this, skinned knees never hurt me. It was a broken nose, concussions, which is why I have to search for some words to say now..... having and riding horses that were half broke when I got them, then having some sort of native American fantasizes meant I would ride them bare back, with little more than a piece of rope to control them. As it is, I do have native American in me, something I feel a lot of families do that have been in this place as long as mine has. (had an ancestor that was off the mayflower) Childhood meant as a kid in a rural setting with an imagination like mine a lot of rough and tumble things as I learned the hard way the limits of my physical body. Also, it is where I learned I do have a high tolerance for pain.

    1. Did you outgrow it? Are you still accident-prone?

    2. Me too.

      Did I mention I got hit by a canoe in downtown Houston a few weeks back?

  11. Katy, do you love Jervaise Brooke Hamster because he loves me or because hes a small furry rodent ?.

    1. I love Jervaise because he tries so darn hard to convince everyone he's NOT gay. He's fooling no one, of course, but it is adorable to see him try.

  12. otis rampaging heterosexualityMay 18, 2012 at 4:26 AM

    Katy, how can "The Hamster" possibly be a faggot if he desperately wants to bugger YOU ! ? ! ?.

    1. It’s widely known that most internet lesbians are in fact middle-aged men in the American Midwest hiding in their garage all night long, trying their best to fake a meager understanding of the most elusive aspect of the female psyche.

      Likewise, most internet child molesters who use multiple personalities to hide from the light of day, and to openly tout how virile they are at molesting anything that crosses their path, including pigeons and cockroaches apparently, are in fact old gay geezers in England, hiding in their basement all day long, hallucinating that they don’t look like total pathetic losers to everyone on the internet.

      So, if you are not so bloody gay, then we don’t know who would be.

  13. Once again "on5464" has shown that they are frightened of the future, anyone who is negative about any aspect of the internet (or the people who use it) is scared shit-less of the future, by definition. They prefer instead to run and hide in the past where its nice and cosy amongst all the lies, hypocrisy, and sexual repression that they love so much. Its very silly to be in denial about the future, those frightened idiots fall by the wayside very quickly. Supposedly sad pathetic losers on the internet represent "the future", frightened morons like "on5464" represent "the past" ! ! !.

    1. If I have my way, there is going to be an influx of interesting characters wander in here over the next few weeks. Gay folks and Christians and gay Christians.

      We need to learn to play nice with each other, or else we won't be playing at all.


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