Last night I had popcorn, peppermint tea and a Milka Daim for dinner because I was too tired and phlegmy to cook anything. This morning, the sun woke me up and that is the only reason I came to work. My boss made me some Lemsip and even that hurt to drink. I had strep throat not too long ago and it was so bad that I now live in abject terror of getting it again. Worry, thy name is Stereo.
However, in the grand scheme of things, a burning throat is not so bad. And to illustrate my point, I present to you Two of The Most Painful Things That Have Ever Happened to Me*.
- The Shredded Knee: When we lived on the Isle, I spent a lot of time playing with our neighbours. They had the entire Disney collection on VHS, one of those giant inflatable pools and were allowed to jump off the low roof of their custom-built playroom into the water. It was like utopia. They also had a long, steep gravelled driveway which was brilliant for freewheeling down on your bike. Fucking utopia, I’m telling you. One day, I was speeding down the driveway, enjoying the breeze in my afro puffs when I noticed that the grandfather of my friends had pulled to a stop in his Mercedes at the bottom of the driveway. He hadn’t seen me. I felt the fear grip me and at the same time knew that all was lost – there was no way I was coming out of this unscathed.
Still, I valiantly attempted to brake and swerve at the same time. The result? I went clean over the handlebars of my bike, skidded across the gravel, tore open the skin on my hands and shredded my right knee to pieces.
You know how you try to style things out when your peers are watching you? Like when you trip and you’re like “LOL, I totally meant to do that.” Well peer pressure still applies even when your Disney-owning, pool-jumping, rich white friends are watching you in wide-eyed horror while your blood stains the posh white gravel of their driveway and you can see flaps of skin hanging forlornly off your knee and a piece of your palm is lying on the ground three feet away from you. I was crying – howling is more accurate – but I still tried to get to my feet and my knee was all really? This is what you want to do now? Lol nope and I collapsed to the ground once more.
- The Curb Run-in: When you are 14 and you have a crush on a boy who happens to be your friend and the two of you walk to the bus stop together every day after school and yours is the kind of relationship where humour and casual barbs are commonplace, something disastrous is bound to happen.
One balmy spring afternoon, we walked together down to the bus stop. This was around the time when The Rock was particularly famous and the People’s Elbow was his signature move. The object of my teenage affections was particularly taken by this move and thought this would be a wonderful time to start chasing me and threatening to execute the move on me before all those assembled at the bus stop.
I was delighted. He was chasing me; surely this meant that he loved me as I did him. I giggled stupidly and dashed off with him in hot pursuit. After a few seconds, common sense prevailed and I realised that we were on a steep slope, it was getting dark and I had zero grip on the bottom of my shoes. I turned to him and ask that he stop but he thought I was joking and continued to chase me. I was in the middle of asking a second time when my grip-less shoes failed me and I slipped. This, I thought as I tumbled through the air, is not going to end well.
I smacked the side of my head against the curb and knocked myself out. When I came to, a circle of my peers (or what I thought were a circle of my peers – my glasses has been smashed to smithereens and I couldn’t see shit). Instead of remaining still and requesting an ambulance, I hobbled to an upright position, desperate to demonstrate that it was all in good fun and that I was above pain (and shame). This is when my crush extended a shaking finger to my face and stammered, his face draining of colour “OMG, Stereo, w…what is that?
It turns out that some grotesque lump had formed where I hit my face against the curb and I now looked like an ebony version of Quasimodo. The lump was oozing blood and some muscle bulged out of the tear in the skin. My tights and my knee had been shredded again.
I almost threw up. The best part? I was so hellbent on styling out this horrific accident that I insisted on getting on the bus and riding home while my crush cradled the pieces of my glasses in his hands and I pretended that the blurred figures on the bus weren’t gulping down throatfuls of puke at the sight of my disfigured face. My dignity was left on the ground where I fell. I thought I would pass out from the pain which was akin to being flayed and then dipped in vinegar. And then salt. And then made to read Twilight over and over and over in perpetuity.
When I got off the bus, I burst into tears and my legs gave way and I called my mother from my mobile. She came pelting around the corner in her headwrap and cradled my lumpen head in her lap and lambasted my crush who was hovering nearby.
Our friendship…wasn’t quite the same after that day.
What am I trying to say here? Perspective, I have it.
All things considered, I would take a sore throat over having destroying myself on gravel or braining myself on a curb in front of a potential boyfriend and all your school friends.
Not listed here: my scaffold piercing trauma, the coffee burn, the accident that happened last week, the broken finger, future childbirth.
* Physically painful. Emotional turmoil is for another post.
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Stereo. 20-something aspiring bon vivant. London based. Exceptionally Nigerian. Partial to snark. My default setting is "wry". Jeans and blazers are my uniform. Landlady. Speed reader, tuneless singer, hoarder of words, drinker of Schloer; I am suspicious of most people, have zero tolerance for tomfoolery, have a vast DVD collection, worship at the altar of Al Green, own too many bottles of nail polish, have small eyes, small ears and giant hair and owe approximately 86% of my awesome to the Parents Typewriter.
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