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Look And Feel Twenty Years Younger

Of all the spam I received over the weekend, that was the most innocuous of subject lines…and the one that caught my attention and imagination the most. Sure, being nine years old had its advantages…I didn’t yet obsess about my appearance. I could still be a kid…and play with my brother and our friends and not be too hung up on gender (aside from the occasional “ew, boys have cooties” kinda thing). It was just before we acquired our Atari 5200, but after we’d gotten our first microwave (a mammoth thing that took up a good quarter of the already cramped kitchen). There was fun to be had splashing around in backyard pools, or climbing up the carport to the garage roof, even though we weren’t supposed to. But I honestly wouldn’t want to relive that time…I was on the cusp of adolescence and puberty, which was rough enough the first time around. Age nine was also the year that my teachers finally suggested I have my eyes checked. Cheesy as it sounds, when I put on my first pair of eyeglasses it was like I was seeing the world for the first time. Never mind that the first thing the eye doctor had me look at was a giant sign for a steakhouse at the mall. At the time it seemed an amazing sight, so crisp and clear and larger than life. Unfortunately my coordination didn’t improve as significantly as we’d all hoped…I still couldn’t throw, catch or hit a softball worth a damn that summer. The first and last summer that I played on an aptly named team, the White Bear Wipeouts. We won only one game, and that was against Hugo, for pete’s sake. At least I haven’t broken a bone since I was nine (unless you count my useless, mangled pinkie toes). But even that wasn’t my fault. I remember the day clearly. Our teacher surprised us with a rare treat. Rented rollerskates from the local rink, to be used in the gym. Luckily there was just one pair small enough for my teeny feet. Every grade I seemed to be the smallest kid in the class. And I somehow wound up skating near Dallas, the largest kid in the class. A boy the the size of a large sixth-grader. His coordination wasn’t so hot either, because he somehow managed to trip himself up and fall down. Hard. And on top of me. I knew something was wrong instantly. I heard the sharp snap of breaking bone. Felt the uselessness of my left wrist and hand. Teachers rushed over to help. Him. He may have been a little bruised afterwards, but was otherwise fine. I tried to speak up about my arm, and was eventually waved away to go see the nurse. Who made a cursory examination of my arm, told me I was being a baby and to go back to class. Where I was unable to both open my desk, and either remove from it or place anything in it. My brother walked me home after class, empathizing with me. My parents seemed annoyed but promised to take me to the doctor. The next day. I muddled my way through the evening and went to bed miserable. When the next day came the x-rays proved what I knew to be true. My wrist had been cleanly broken. And a cast was immediately set. I received a few apologies, but the experience left me feeling insignificant and vulnerable and helpless. So no thank you, I don’t want to look and feel 20 years younger. Instead I’ll be content with turning thirty soon…and reminiscing about the awkward age of nine.