When I was a kid we had a neighbor that lived catty corner to us. They had a daughter, A, she was between me and my little sister’s ages. (Which was 5 and 7). She was awful, spoiled rotten, bossy, and just a total ass. Naturally, she was our only neighborhood friend.
Her family was rich, at least by our standards. She had a TV in her bedroom. Her brother (who was away in the military or boarding school or juvenile detention, we were never sure which) has his own room. That he didn’t even live in! At this time in our lives I was sharing a room with my brother and little sister. We had bunk beds. My sister and I on the bottom, my brother on the top. My sister and I shared a pillow.
A’s parents fed her things like grilled cheese with Kraft cheese slices, Kraft mac and cheese, Pringles and Trix. We had never tasted these things before. She got dessert after every meal. Every meal. Even after her breakfast of Trix she got popsicles! And not homemade frozen fruit juice in an ice cube tray with toothpicks. She had store bought popsicles, the conjoined kind, sealed in wax paper. Shit was crazy at this girl’s house.
She also had a jungle gym. A store bought one. We had a set of metal pipes that my father screwed together to form a chin up bar for us to hang from. She had a store bought slip ‘n’ slide. My father took plastic sheets of visqueen that he would fold into layers and wet it with a hose.
We never wanted to play at our house, both for the reasons described above and because our parents would likely embarrass us with their nudity. So we spent most of our time at A’s house, playing on her jungle gym.
She was obsessed with playing a game I always called Hero’s Rescue in my mind. She was the damsel in distress that had been kidnapped by the evil villain, my little sister. And I was the dashing young hero that swooped in and rescued her.
I don’t know if my sister ever got sick of being the villain, but I definitely got sick of being the hero. I was already too tall and strong to be the damsel, but damn, couldn’t I have been the villain? I would have killed it that role!
Plus, the hero and the damsel always kissed at the fairytale ending of that game and she was a boring kisser. She wanted it the exact same way every time. I was always supposed to dip her and hold her in this really specific way that I almost never got right the first time. It was like trying to guess the correct combination to a rubix cube. Ugh.
Anyway, one time we were playing Hero’s Rescue and I thought I would try a sweet new move to liven things up. I leapt from the slide and tried to grab a hold of the jungle gym bar. And of course, I failed miserably.
I missed the bar and fell and hit my head. I hit my head very hard. So hard I had to call off the game and our play time. I went home to my mother and told her what had happened.
She brushed it off at first. But as the day wore on I got an increasingly worse headache, I was tired and light sensitive and my mother began to worry that I had a concussion. After a few hours we went to the ER.
After several mind numbingly long hours of waiting we finally went in to see the doctor. He was condescending and rude. He chastised my mother for wasting his time and had already decided I didn’t have a concussion. He ran a few cursory tests and then asked me to jump up and down.
Jumping up and down was abject misery, but this was long before I learned how to speak up and stand up for myself. I jumped a few times, painfully. The doctor declared me perfectly fine and healthy and sent my mother and I home.
I went home and immediately fell asleep. And that’s how the ER sent me home and allowed me to go to sleep with a probable concussion.