Emily Salier’s sings: . . . And as the bombshells of my daily fears explode/I try to trace them to my youth. . . .” [Galileo, Indigo Girls]. I’m not afraid of gloves, but I hate wearing them. And I blame childhood experiences for my cold raw hands of December.
Idiot mittens aside, the cosmos has consumed many a mitten and sock in my lifetime. But mismatching (and the subsequent commentary by my peers) hand wear is not the cause. I blame living with my (evil) grandmother. Scratchy, crackling crinolines under my Sunday church dress, an ugly hat of some sort, tiny purse with my offering, and white gloves – pristine white gloves which must remain so for hours on Sunday.Usually too small, quickly cutting off my circulation, or too big and a mastery of gentile lady skills to keep on. I hated them. More than crinolines, more than church with endless lectures to the youth in his sermons (the congregation was decidedly NOT in their youth), more than a sharp elbow if my eyes strayed, a yawn formed. The gloves were symbolic of the captive life I lead – duty always owed. Struggling to survive in the hostile environment of bullies, ignorance, and indifference by adults. A child without a whole lot of love. I always managed to get a smudge – from the church giving plate, grandfather’s car, breathing, being a child. The reprimand (verbal), and sighs. My family didn’t hit; too cold and detached, I think, to consider it.
One other glove incident cemented my inability tolerate any glove including rubber or “latex” gloves when cleaning or washing the dishes. I find the sensation so distasteful, I will roughen my skin, rather than encase it in plastic. I grew up in the days you walked yourself to school, to the bus stop. Parents expected you home on time but were not, in general, an active part in the comings and goings. My mother only showed up once to walk me home from school – an ice storm had made the sidewalks slick and in a sudden burst of maternal concern, she came to walk me home. I was a clumsy child with continuously banged up knees, and elbows – my knees continue to carry scars from years of literally tripping over my own feet or cracks in the sidewalk. As we trundled home, she remonstrated me to be careful and cautious rather than my usual self (who actually tired not to fall). Then wham, “shit in a mitt” and I was left holding my mother’s glove as she lay flat on her back on the slippery sidewalk. Talk about trauma – my fault my mother hurt her back. A kind gentleman driving by helped her up and drove us home. Mom disappeared for a hot bath, and I fretted. How many sidewalk cracks had I stepped on recently (Step on a crack, break your mother’s back). Would my father, on his way home from work, blame me? I took the blame in the world for more than a child’s shoulders should bear.
So, now I struggle to put on gloves even if the weather is decidedly cold. I can’t wash dishes with anything between myself and the water. I use eco-friendly unharsh cleaners so I don’t burn my hands. Hands which show the years of exposure. But “As the bombshells of my daily [life] explode/I . . . trace them to my youth.”