Saturday, October 24, 2009
I fell out of my grandmother’s Dodge Dart when I was five years old onto the Post Road in Westport, Connecticut. The Post Road was a busy four lane thoroughfare. We were returning home from my grandmother’s morning errands...the post office and then Calise’s grocery for the New York Times and the Daily News.
I remember the interior of the Dart was red, not leather, probably some sort of naugahyde, but it was red, and I used to sit in the front seat, with my back to the passenger side door and my little legs stretched to my grandmother as she drove...punctuated by my red leather mary janes on my feet. I loved those shoes, they had a button strap and my grandparents brought them to me from a trip to Ireland. It was the only trip they ever took abroad together...they brought me those shoes and a beautiful heavyweight knitted cardigan sweater. The Dart was grey on the exterior and it had a push button transmission....my grandmother pushed the wrong button frequently and the rear of our garage had the evidence to show it.
I remember the door falling away behind me and the slow motion backwards somersault that I did out on to the pavement -- I remember my grandmother’s arm reaching for me but disappearing and then I rolled and rolled and there were cars and sky and cars and sky. It was a grey day and the sky cast this white cloudy glare on the pavement and me. I remember the bright red brake lights of the Dart as my grandmother came to an hysterical sliding stop, somewhere in front of the Clam Box...this big ugly seafood restaurant that made you wear paper bibs decorated with lobsters. My grandmother came running back up the Post Road and the cars were all around blowing their horns and screeching and doors were flying open. I was in a ball on the cold wet pavement...nobody hit me, but I knocked one of my teeth out, so my mouth was full of blood...the taste of salt sometimes reminds me of falling out of the car.
Mom scooped me up and put me back in the Dart -- there was no discussion with the onlookers, just a hasty and embarrassed retreat. I kept asking her to go back and get my tooth, for the tooth fairy, but she said the tooth fairy would pay up anyway, that the fairy would understand that my tooth had been lost in extenuating circumstances.