Though gerbils would have eaten a child such as me, my human mother dutifully took it upon herself to make sure I survived. I appreciated her deep caring for me in that little yellow house on the downward sloping property in that sleepy rural neighborhood of my youthy youth. My brother and I shared a bedroom in the finished basement, next to the playroom. My sister had her own room upstairs across from my parents’ bedroom. We had a living room with 1960’s stick lamps, a tweed couch and a sharp-edged kidney-shaped Formica coffee table that my brother once fell onto while jumping on the couch with my sister and me. He landed on the nasty edge of the brown kidney which split his ear clean through the cartilage about one centimeter (I was born metric) above the lobe. The edge of the ear, bleeding like a split ear, separated where the split occurred and as if some special ear tension had held the ear together. The severe cut allowed the now two separate pieces of cartilage to move far away from each other. This gave the appearance that a part of the ear was missing, at least to the doctor but not to me (I was a born diagnostician).
At the emergency room, we were sent home to look on the floor for a lost piece of ear. My sister found a piece of fuzz under the couch and declared proudly and with sheepish hope that she had found the lost part of her brother’s ear. She wanted to be helpful and she also wanted to be noticed. My parents explained to her that it was fuzz. The phone rang and the doctor explained to my parents that upon closer inspection, my brother did not lose a piece of his ear, that his ear had actually separated and they sewed the ear back together and we could stop looking for the missing piece. I knew the whole search for the ear was silly as I saw my brother hit the table and nothing flopped away from his head that looked like flesh. Sadly, to this day, I am not sure if he just fell off or if I pushed him off or if my sister and I pushed him or we were all pushing each other, but I felt terribly guilty about this whole ear mess and I knew there was no missing ear section and if my sister thinks fuzz is flesh, then give her the prize and I’ll go back to my room which made me feel even more guilty. I knew the search was a waste of time and I naturally sported a disaffected attitude while I imagined my brother practically bleeding to death in the hospital. Though having the clarity of one who spends many nights lying under an icing of Vicks, I just knew this ear accident was nothing more than a cut ear, there was no missing piece and everything was going to turn out fine. And it did. This whole ear incident made me even more resistant to horseplay. I stayed indoors but off the furniture. I played records, read books, took very safe walks, got sick, grew weak and pale and cankered.