P. S. Gifford 

© Copyright 2022 by P. S. Gifford 


Photo courtesy of Pixabay.

Photo courtesy of Pixabay..

My son turns twenty-one in March, and since my separation from his mom I have hardly spent any time of him. I am not his biological father- but I raised him from 18 months to 16 years- and legally adopted him. I have dozens above dozens of little anecdotes about him…Like the following.

So, at three twenty this afternoon my fourteen year old son arrived home from high school, screaming and hollering.

I instantly jumped up from my desk as he is began chasing from the garage through the laundry room and into our downstairs hallway.  I saw his plight, for he was literally covered head and foot in tar.

Get this off, get this off,” he was screaming at the top of his lungs as he began to race inside the house.

Hold it,” I said, “strip in the garage.”

He tried to argue, but caught the sternness in my eyes, and promptly reconsidered.

Thank god he was wearing a crash helmet, and blue jeans, as he would have been on the way to the hospital at this point.

So, naked as a new-born, upstairs he marched, and jumped into the bathtub. I began to scrub with a wash cloth and soap. He had grazed all along his right arm, from his elbow, to the back of his hand and all of it was coated in black, sticky, stinking tar. The bar of soap was having little impact in removing the tar.

I raced back downstairs to quickly research on the internet for my best approach.

It turns out that mayonnaise is the ideal product for de-tarring. I just so happened to have a large jar of it in my refrigerator. So retrieving it, with both of my dogs in hiding, I ran back upstairs to him, still bawling, in the bath tub. Now, I will say, neigh brag, that Jonathan is a typically sweet natured lad, and not aggressive in the least. Furthermore he rarely, if ever uses swear words. But swearing he was, more colorful than a pissed of sailor, and as red-faced as a freshly pickled beetroot.

We began with his hands and face. Coating liberally the tar covered skin in mayo. Then, after a few moments we began to remove it, as gently as I could, with a washcloth. After several attempts, we got the majority of it off. Then we did the same to his left arm, he was beginning to regain his composure, and his choice of swear words were far less dramatic by this point. Then after thirty minutes, we came to the unavoidable, his grazed left arm.  I told him to grit his teeth as I proceeded to coat his injured arm in the mayonnaise. He physically shook, and tears formed in his humiliated eyes. At this point I was still unsure whether to rush him to the emergency room. I was further unsure as to whether waiting for the tar to fully set, would be to our advantage or not. After removing the top layer of tar, I could tell that the grazing wasn't to deep, and there was thankfully no blood. I decided to proceed myself, and re-coated the arm with mayo, and once more allowed it to soak.

Even though he was in pain, he began to calm down further, and no more swear words were uttered or even mumbled... Jonathan even apologized for turning into, and this is a direct quote, ‘the exorcist Jonathan’. “He further added that a friend had told him, just after the incident, that tar cannot be removed ever! Can you imagine how he felt?

Well it took an hour for all the tar to come off and I cleaned up his wounds. He is in good spirits now and getting on with his homework. All his clothes he was wearing are in the trash, along with his brand new back pack, and trainers.

In the accident his bicycle chain apparently came off, he arrived home on his friend’s bike. His school mate just returned his bike, after fixing it, that is a true friend right there.

So, the question begged to be asked.

Why were you speeding through tar, was there no tape around it, and warning signs”.

He looked blankly at me.

And furthermore how darn fast were you going?”

He bit his lip before answering.

I was just going ten miles dad, and there was no tape.”

As a father with experience in such matters, and who still vividly remembers being a teenager, I can smell a lie.

I repeated my questions.

Well, it turned out he was pedaling as fast as his legs could go, racing his friend, taking a short cut through an apartment complex. He saw the warning tape on the road, but noticed there was room to cut through

Another lesson learnt I hope. And a sound reminder to insure that your own children always wear a helmet when on their bikes. The one he was wearing was cracked- and covered in tar it is now in our garbage can. I shudder to consider the scene if he hadn’t been wearing it.

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