The Canadian Writers' Collective

Writing, and writerly tangents

Thursday, June 21, 2007


By Antonios Maltezos

Lucky me! My last Tetanus shot was in 2000 -- a bit o good fortune, if you ask me, not the festering wound that had me double-checking my wallet for my Medicare card, but the year itself.

“It’ll be easy to remember for the next one,” said the doc.
“Hey, yah! That’s right. That’s right.”
“2010. Easy to remember.”
“That’s right. Ha!”

Lucky me.

I should have had only three Tetanus shots in my last thirty years, but I’ve had a lot more than that. How many? How the hell should I know -- every time I’ve gone in for stitches, at least? That’s seven times (I can see the scars.). Plus the three or four finger tips I’ve sliced off that couldn’t be stitched. Fingertips grow back, btw. I must have built up immunity, by now, to the dreaded Tetanus disease; I’m finally the super hero I’d always dreamed of becoming.

“When was your last Tetanus shot?”
“Dunno. Can’t remember.”
Well, I’ll give you one anyway, they always say, thinking just this once couldn’t hurt.

I have a terrible memory. Things happen. I react. The dust settles. And then something else happens.

I don’t remember the year Elvis died, but I can still see my dad coming home... walking into the kitchen, mumbling something only my sister could hear, and then her implosion, her devastation, her mournful wailing, the bedroom door closing behind her, and me looking to my dad for an answer. Elvis is dead. Just like that. My dad was one of those guys with the big sideburns, and my sister had adored both him and The King. What a bad, nasty-ass day that was. But don’t ask me the date. I’d have to look it up.

You see these people on Charlie Rose, shooting off the dates for the most mundane of things, and I’ve just got to ask: how the hell can they remember the year they had lunch with that chap from the… whatever! Wtf! I can’t even remember my SIN number, and I’ve been sitting on it since I was fifteen, way back in… whatever!

I remember about twenty seconds of my father’s reaction to his mother’s death, him on the floor in our apartment in Parc Ex, kicking and screaming in his best dark suit, fresh from the funeral, a bunch of other men, familiars, my uncle Bobby, in their best dark suits, trying to keep clear of my father’s pointy shoes, his flailing fists, the two cops off to the side mumbling as if Elvis had just died -- not yaya. They had their mothers, too.

I was born in 64’, and I peed my pants my first day of school, 1969. The teacher had put me on the long bench against the wall, one of those gym benches, to lie down, calm myself, I must have been crying like a baby. I don’t remember her face, what the lessons were that day -- nothing. But I do remember my mother begging me to go into the school, to leave her side. Everyone else had already gone in, so the playground of Barcley Elementary was deserted, and the building was big, brown, and ugly. She wanted me to leave her side and go in on my own. Over the years, if we’d miss school, we’d have to write our own notes, so she could copy the spelling, get it right, so she could sign: The Mother.

If only I had pictures of all the days I was wounded, wounded badly enough to get a Tetnus shot, I’d have an amazing album, I think. Ahh, fuck the Tetnus shots, just the wounds, the twisted ankles, the hockey puck to the forehead, the black eyes, the heart pains, the popped knee that time at the Paladium, I’d have an amazing photo journal of a very regular life. Me bending that steering wheel in half as the hydro pole came ripping through the dash, the humming grinding my teeth as the bees crawled up my legs out of that wood pile in Brome, the Calamine lotion -- that shit don’t work. Fuck the Tetnus shots. What about all those nightmares? The Curse of the Mummy. Me racing in pantomime down that hallway in that apartment on Ball Avenue. Thank God for all those Tetanus shots.

2010, here I come.

File this one under someone forgot to leave the light on. K



Blogger tamara said...

Blast it, Tony. You must have driven you're poor mother crazy with your 'little accidents.' Hilarious stuff, as always.

Thu Jun 21, 01:09:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Andrew Tibbetts said...

I'm the only person I know who likes getting shots. I always feel safer afterwards. Maybe it's a mild form of Munchausen's (the craving for medical attention).

Thu Jun 21, 06:29:00 pm GMT-4  
Blogger Anne C. said...

This is my favourite post of yours, ever, btw.

Mon Jun 25, 09:00:00 am GMT-4  
Blogger Mark Brown said...

OMG. Tony I had completely forgotten about the day you stepped on that bee hive. I'm laughing my ass off right now remembering it. With all the football we played out the back of our high school, I can honestly say I never saw you run as fast as you did that day all the way back to the cottage screaming "BEES".

Fri Aug 06, 09:19:00 am GMT-4  

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