I skinned my knee today. I wasn't too smart, stepping out of the shower, realizing my towel was out in the hall, trying to navigate slick floors with wet feet. I moved across the floor and then I went down, slipping and skidding. Ouch! And when I looked at my knee, it was bleeding, and there were little bits of skin - little bits of me - that weren't attached to me anymore. Did I mention, "OUCH!" already? Just checking. I was in pain, and I felt stupid. Only little children skin their knees. Adults get ulcers and hernias; they don't get "skint" knees, as we used to call them in our mud-covered ignorance. So, there I was, wincing with a child's ailment. What's next...measles?
After I dried off with that cursed towel, I found a big bandage and eased it onto my reddening knee. And then I thought more about what it was like to be a child. We used to skin our knees all the time. "Skinning your knee" is a silly phrase, but it makes sense. I had just lost a visible chunk of skin from my knee, and if that's not a "skinning" then nothing is. As children, we'd skin our knees on concrete; we'd skin them on the blacktop at the elementary school playground; and we'd skin them on the grass and the red mud of the softball field. We'd skin our knees in short pants and in long blue jeans, ripping holes in our flesh and any fabric that got in the way of gravity and bone. Our knees would be skinned on rocks, and roads, and trees, and we'd pick up and we'd go on playing. Sure it hurt, but we lived with scabbed-over knees. Summer was a time of danger, and skinned knees were small casualties we were willing to endure in exchange for our freedom. If you had undamaged knees, it meant you'd probably wasted your summer being dragged along on shopping trips to awful department stores that smelled of stale paint and dust.
So here I am - an adult with a skinned knee. And even though this hurts my pride, something else hurts even more. Little children don't have hairy legs, but I do. Let me go on record: It was much easier to remove a bandage back in my youth than it was today. Again: OUCH!
David McCoy, a notorious storyteller and proud Yellow Jacket, lives in Covington and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.