Late spring. The phone rang. I picked it up, after checking the caller ID. Lafayette Club, where my brother works. I wondered why he was calling me from work. Was Mother ill? Another family member?
"Hello?" I said, trying to keep my voice calm.
"What?" I asked, not sure what Jake meant, and why he was talking in a somewhat aggressive voice.
"Wax hands!" he said, adding a bit more force to his voice.
Suddenly, my mind reeled back twenty-three years to the basement of S Hall at Deseret Towers, Brigham Young University. I was a freshman in college.
Cori V and I huddled ourselves over the aged stove, the lone appliance larger than a microwave in the whole of our living quarters. Cori had set a pan of water on the electric burner and heated it to a rolling boil.
"Are you sure you want to do this?" she whispered.
"Of course. I can deal with the pain," I replied, staring at the churning water.
She gazed at me as if to attempt to see through a lie, though there was none. After a few seconds of the stare-down, she placed a smaller saucepan in the boiling pan of water and dropped several rock-like chunks of red wax into the smaller pan.
We waited silently; Cori stirred occasionally, like a white-haired sorceress over a dire potion.
Finally, the wax was ready. Both of us inhaled deeply and got to work. We dipped the fingers of our left hands into the runny wax.
Oh! the pain and agony! My fingernails felt like they were going to peel off, and I could feel the heat cooking my joints. But no scream escaped my trembling lips. I was focused on the end result: a wax cast of my left hand.
We were going to cast our hands in plaster.
Soon our hands were too hot to dip any further. We resorted to ladling hot wax onto our hands. The worst part was between our fingers and the webbing between thumb and index finger. We yelped a little at that part. But we kept ladling until our hands were encased and immobilized in a fat blob of red wax. As we worked, several other residents of S Hall passed us by, wondering what we were doing. We explained that we were making wax hands, and soon to be plaster casts. Mostly we got in return were the all-to-familiar slight eye roll and a comment that we were strange. We'd gotten all of that and more the time we played Monopoly in the elevator for several hours.
When our wax blobs had finally cooled down, we wiggled our blistered fingers out and let the molds cool further. The next day, Cori took the molds to her art class and filled them with wet plaster. In a few days, she brought my mold and cast to me and I chipped off the wax to reveal a chalky-white, solid hand.
I loved that hand. I faked out several people when I asked to shake their hands. My brothers even thought I was cool because I had a cast of my hand.
The hand only lasted a few years. Moving often caused several fingers to fall off and eventually I chucked it.
--End of Part 1
Tune in tomorrow when I return from my flashback only to have history repeat itself.
(WAX HANDS! sounds like an awesome B-movie title, doesn't it?)
(Certain elements of this post have been dramatized to make for more interesting reading, although the base elements of the story are ALL TRUE!)