Fun House of Pain
My fingers have every reason to think I hate them. I cut more chunks out of them than I did any actual wood when I whittled as a kid. (“Note: Carve away from us, not towards us!” ~Sincerely, Your Fingers.)
Then there was the night we went to see To Kill a Mockingbird, when Dad (accidentally) slammed and locked (!) the car door on my hand. My fingers throbbed as I watched Scout walk Boo Radley home. I loved the movie anyway.
But the worst calamity that ever befell my phalanges was the Fun House at the Long Beach Pike. The Pike was a grubby pre-World War I era amusement park known for two things: The Cyclone Racer (one of America’s great roller coasters) and ladies offering to go on “dates” with sailors.
My cousins and I were fresh from the sideshow, having viewed The Astonishing Woman-Who-Has-Nothing-but-a-Red-Light-Bulb-for-a-Head, and were ready to tackle the Fun House, with its jiggling floors and joggling doorways. I ran ahead, and was alone when I entered an empty hall with a rubber walkway. I stepped onto it. Nothing.
“Is something supposed to happen?” I asked an acne-festooned carny on a stool at the end of the hallway. Without looking up from his girly mag, he flicked a switch on the wall. The walkway jerked backward, causing me to tumble.
The carny sneered as I landed on my butt. I laughed self-consciously, as though I were in on the joke. I wasn’t. 12 year olds are never in on the joke.
I also wasn’t in on the fact that the moving walkway was sliding under a metal lip. The rubber wanted to take my hand with it, but the metal lip kept it from doing so. Nevertheless, it refused to surrender my hand, instead slicing layer after layer of skin away from my fingers.
The carny yelled, “Well, get up, baby!”
“I can’t!” I shrieked as I watched the metal plane away the final layers of epidermis and begin scraping the bones.
The carny flicked the power off, sauntered over, and then, seeing my fresh ground beef hand for the first time, said, “Oh, sh-t!”
After five months of skin grafts and hand movement therapy, I was actually able to take guitar lessons. Because if there’s anything even cooler than scarred hands, it’s guitar playing hands.
Even my fingers agreed with that.
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