Homemade Ravioli

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Helen Freed Me…from the bathtub

Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 3.56.34 PMAnd then, of course, there is the time Helen freed me from the bathtub.

We’ve told this story on 10th Street quite a bit:

I was a little boy (maybe mom can recall my age) and I was taking a bath. My big toe became wedged or locked inside the tub’s spigot. I couldn’t pull it out and something about the angle of the bend in the metal and the size of my Fred Flintstonesque toe made it wedge tight, and it started to hurt.

All I can remember is calling for help and, in my memory, it feels like many of the Italian Housewives of10th Street piled into the bathroom to free me. Aunt Connie, mom, Janet, Bepa, Mitzi, and I feel like the list went on and on. None of them panicked. Everyone saw the humor immediately–chubby boy stuck in the tub– and all of these Italian women clucked ideas to get it out in between suppressed laughs.

My mom may have grabbed and pulled.

Aunt Connie or her friend Mitzi may have just told me pull it out.

Most ideas ended with the same idea: pull. The problem with pulling was that it hurt. And, looking back, the toe was probably swelling bit by bit.

Among those crowding into that tiny, upstairs, row home bathroom, Helen pushed to the front and turned on the cold water and just commanded me to pull my toe out. She didn’t let on that she cared that I was naked. It was just get out of the way, Helen is here.

No nonsense. A cigarette lit. A long tail of white ashes dangling from its end. And one piece of instruction: just pull that damn toe out.

With cold water gushing over my foot,Helen’s solution did the trick. My toe popped free. There must have been more laughs then. I do remember Helen, satisfied with her work, just turned and disappeared into the small crowd. And then all of the Italian Housewives of 10th Street filed out…probably for a cigarette of their own. Hey, it was the 70s. Ashtrays were part of the decor everywhere. And when I dried off and dressed, I was presented with a question that I still can’t answer: what were you doing?

About Brian Kelley

Middle school teacher, co-chair of our ELA department, and co-director with PAWLP. Follow me on Twitter @_briank_.

4 comments on “Helen Freed Me…from the bathtub

  1. joanl777
    February 4, 2015

    Omg I remember this as if it were yesterday, we were all in a tizzy and Aunt Helen said just move! Turned on the cold water and it worked. She was always the best in an emergency. Everyone else not so much.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. mbqhclover
    February 4, 2015

    Brian, this was another cousin Mary Beth babysitting sessions gone wrong. Had to be 1974 or ’75. I was helping your mom out and staying @ 2539. You wanted to take your own Bath & I let you. You were just about old enough so I left you on your own. What was taking you so long? Toe stuck in tub faucet. How did it get there? My fault. We all panicked. Relatives came running from every direction & yes, Aunt Helen, cigarette dangling out of the corner of her mouth, pushed through & in her calming, self assured way dealt with it & saved the day before we called the fire department. (We all had a cigarette after that one.)This was around the same time you promised that would brush your teeth if I left you alone in the bathroom. I did. I came in & with those big blue innocent eyes you sincerely answered me: “yes, I brushed my teeth.’ Your toothbrush was DRY.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. cherbett
    February 5, 2015

    Wow from sounds of this you could have beena toeless teeth rotted kid.

    Liked by 1 person

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