Several weeks ago, I noticed that I had a ‘wart’ on one of my fingers. It was very small – about the size of a pin head – and certainly nothing to worry about. It wasn’t painful or itchy and I’m sure that nobody would ever notice it, but the fact that I had another wart really bothered me.
I have only had one other wart in my life and that was when I was very young – probably 9 or 10 years old. I remember noticing it one day – it was on my right knee and it was the size of a dime. It was pretty scary – the only other person I had ever seen with a wart was the ‘Kitchen Witch’ that my Mom had hanging over the kitchen sink. My Mom was very superstitious and the Kitchen Witch was supposed to protect our family from evil spirits, food poisoning and/or burnt toast. It was the first thing that Ma gave me when I moved into the first place of my own – a room in the basement of Mrs. Simpson’s place in Oshawa, Ontario. That was in 1969 and the room didn’t have a kitchen – just an electric kettle and a hot plate. But I guess that my Ma felt that I needed to be protected from other nasty things – and that’s why she insisted that I hang it up over the laundry tubs – which doubled as my wash basin and sink. But that’s another story – http://danielstandrews.com/2013/09/04/dannys-year-book-19689-a-repost/
Anyway, back to the ‘wart-on-my knee’ story. When you’re the only kid on the planet with a wart on your body – that everyone can see – and everyone can ask you about – and everyone can laugh at you and tease you about – it was embarrassing! And during that Summer of the Wart, I was taking swimming lessons every morning at Camp Samac, so I couldn’t hide the wart by wearing pants all the time. And although I hadn’t reached the ‘interested-in-girls’ stage yet, I was sensitive to the fact that people would always stare at my knee while talking to me. I’m sure it’s similar for how girls with large bosoms feel when they try to make eye-to-eye contact with boys. However, those girls with the big boobs never noticed where my eyes were focussed when talking to them, because they too, were always staring at the wart on my knee. Some would even point at it and giggle (at the wart Spanky, the wart!).
Now in those days, you didn’t run to the doctor unless you were sick – and having a wart on your knee didn’t qualify as a sickness. And besides, if the Kitchen Witch hanging in our kitchen couldn’t protect me from the evil spirit that gave me the wart – what good would a doctor be?
I had that wart on my knee for months and I would constantly pick at it – which made it even more unsightly. I had almost given up hope on ever getting rid of the wart until the day my Grandma Puffer came to our house for a visit. I was very close to her and valued her wisdom. But she too was very superstitious and she was obviously the source of my Ma’s superstitions. So when she saw the wart on my knee she didn’t even hesitate to explain the sure-fire cure. She put her arm around me and while hugging me told me that I needed to fetch a potato from the kitchen and a knife. I quickly ran to the kitchen, glanced at the Kitchen Witch and smiled – because nothing could match the power of my Grandma Puffer – and returned with a large potato and knife. Grandma then instructed me to cut the potato in half and then take 1/2 of the potato and rub it on the wart. I started to rub the wart and then after a few moments my Grandma told me to go to the backyard and bury that 1/2 of the potato and put the remaining 1/2 in the fridge. She then explained that I wasn’t to ever look at, or think about the wart again.
“But Grandma, when will the wart be gone?” I asked.
“The wart will be gone when the potato that you buried in the garden becomes a potato plant. Later, when the plant has grown its potato(s), you should dig up one of the potatoes and then check to see if you still have the wart on your knee,” she instructed.
“But what if it’s still there?” I asked.
My Grandma didn’t answer – she just stared into my eyes and smiled at me.
Well, I remember that the 1/2 potato did grow and become a plant. And I remember my Ma telling me when it was time to dig up the potato. And I remember looking at my knee and finding, to my surprise that the wart was gone!
So today I am going to go to the market to buy a potato. Maybe I’ll take my Kitchen Witch along for the ride…