Three Tinies

Crow Jonah Norlander

Amateur Attention

Why does nursemaid’s elbow remind me of wet brain and fetal alcohol syndrome?

Not everything that can go wrong has something to do with booze.

My son’s arm stays straight. He whimpers if we bend it. I get queasy thinking about tendons and ligaments, but Bonnie does the “reduction” just fine with him on my lap, Sesame Street on TV. Still, we cannot entice him — even with a sheet of Berenstain Bears stickers begging to be peeled — to demonstrate his renewed dexterity.

As a family, we’re all over the map in our embrace of doctors. We’re fans of science and medicine across the board, but some of us less so of the associated industrial complexes, the bills they follow up with, and how they’re always asking you to come back. Others among us ache for the attention. My instincts tell me most ailments go away if you ignore them even though the opposite is true.

Cure as With Salt

Wake up, shit shower shave, brush floss rinse. Heavy-duty pumice grind. Chop back nails while soft. Zicam, Lorazepam. Carmex. Knuckle lotion at least, then sunscreen everywhere else. Antihistamine, probiotics. Permethrin spritz not good enough, wind up needing calamine. SPF too low, smother with aloe. Barely a chance to start dying and it already feels like bedtime.

How Does It Feel

The bandage dressing the wound on my knee needs replacing. I buy the cheapest tube of Neosporin in stock, which advertises pain-killing properties. Bleeding through the loosest pair of pants I own, I imagine rubbing crushed up ibuprofen into my open wound.

Even in goo form, I can’t even bear to see it squeezed and rubbed right onto me, preferring to swizzle it on the underside of an adhesive-backed pad and squish it over, focusing instead — as a distraction — on getting it to stick to the skin through all the hair.

I was Evel Knievel, accustomed to clearing the Grand Canyon, barreling downhill with sheer momentum as my only hope. Now, I linger in the air between ridges, knowing I won’t make it over.

Crow Jonah Norlander lives in Maine with his wife, child, and retired racing greyhounds.