My mother is the Queen of Stain Removal. A child of the Great Depression, in my mother’s world, you don’t throw things out. Clothing with a stubborn stain can and will be salvaged. Name the stain, and she can remove it. Over the years, I have brought home my children’s ruined clothing on a great number of occasions and Mom would send me home with clothing that could once more be worn proudly in public.
Dirt has always been my mother’s enemy. She preferred not to have to work to keep our clothes clean. Being an obedient child, with only a few notable (and extremely fun, I admit) exceptions, I didn’t get my hands or my clothes dirty on purpose.
Mom did not hone her stain-removing skills on the likes of me.
My sister was a whole ‘nother ball game: from the get-go, she was always such a spunky kid. Loud, daring and fearless, there were no lengths to the things she would do to get her own clothes filthy: it started when Mom found her, at age two, happily sitting with a little bucket and shovel in the middle of a mud puddle in our dooryard. By the time she was five, she had managed to sneak into a house being painted near my grandparents’ place and helped another child paint a good deal of the kitchen – and themselves – before blithely walking home (covered in paint) to face the consequences.
Mom definitely got a lot of practice becoming the Queen of Stain Removal simply by giving birth to my little sister.
I am not sure at what point the spunkiness abruptly left my sister, but I have wondered if it started with ‘Brutus Roberts’ (*). One day when she would have been about 10 years old, my sister was out happily playing in the woods near our house when BR, aged 15 and a former neighbour of ours, stopped her with very bad intentions on his mind. He would have succeeded too, except that my mother – always suspicious of my sister’s motives when she was out on her own – came loudly calling for her. At the point where BR had my sister pinned to the ground and was trying to remove her clothes, he heard my mother calling nearby and getting closer. He must have recalled what a temper my mother had and abruptly left my sister lying there as he bolted for home through the woods.
Too young to understand that it was not her fault, my sister never told my parents about what had happened. She only told me decades later. Even though it could have ended much worse than it did, it is nonetheless one stain that my sister was never able to get out.
I started doing Tae Bo a few years ago. I am not a fighter; not even the slightest bit aggressive, so learning to make a fist with my thumb ‘just so’ as I throw a jab, a cross or an upper cut; and learning to swivel my hips as I place a knee-or-groin-level side kick have all been a bit of a challenge for me. For the longest time, my heart just wasn’t in it: I just couldn’t do any of Billy Blanks’ moves with any semblance of feeling.
Until I remembered BR.
My husband came in one day as I was working out and – although he knows I prefer to work out in privacy – glanced first in idle interest and then in fascination as I brutally punched, thrust and generally ‘kicked ass’ for the better part of an hour. Smart enough not to say anything while I was grimly exercising, he waited until I had finished and then blurted “Holy CRAP! That was bloody AWESOME! Who are you and what did you do to my WIFE?!”
BR, I haven’t forgotten your real name. I hope you never had daughters. If you had sons, I hope you raised them to treat little girls and women better. I fervently hope you have changed. I sincerely hope you got help; that you are a better person today.
But if you are still the same: I. Hope. You. Feel. Every. Single. Punch. I. Am. Throwing.
They are all intended for you.
(*) not his real name
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com