January 3, 2012


I've been hiding for a week, doing a preventative treatment to clear up pre-cancerous spots on my face.

The treatment is working. I have a face full of sores and a chin that's recovering. Woo hoo!

A few minutes ago I took off my sweater and it snagged one of the scabs on my face, ripping it off. It reminded me of a story.

I'd planned to spend Easter break during my freshman year in college with my folks at their house. Early on Good Friday I learned of a change of plans: we were headed to my brother's house. My nephew had come down with chicken pox and it made more sense for us to bring Easter to them.

Or did it? I remember thinking "I've never had chicken pox and my parents know this." Turns out they'd forgotten, and fate also played a role in that I had a cold. And it rained, so we stayed in the house that weekend, in close contact with my buggy nephew.

One week later (was it two?), the family was gathering again. I had been feeling yucky all week and just before coming home I went to the Health Center and learned that I had strep throat. No wonder I felt run down! But I'd said I'd come home to visit my sister, so I got in my trusty 1958 Chevy, Thelma D.

She and I headed toward home, past the farms where the farmers burned off their fields, then closer to what I think of as civilization. Why did it still smell like agricultural burning? Oh yes. My car was on fire. I pulled to the side of the freeway and met a nice man who helped me figure out the fire was *inside* the car. I could probably get to the 76 station visible in the distance.

I should mention that this was a recurring problem that my dad had "fixed", and by now I was very unwell and very pissed. You see, a 1958 Chevy has a dual muffler system. In between the two mufflers is a long pipe. The pipe had formed a crack, just about where your feet would be if you were in the back left passenger seat. The hot exhaust was superheating the underside of my car and the 23-year-old carpet was smoldering. I'd discovered this problem a month or so earlier, and Pop had "fixed" it with asbestos tape. Like a lot of his fixes, it wore out, and here we were.

A few hours later Pop arrived with another roll of asbestos tape and I was on my way.

The next day we all gathered in the family room to watch the Kentucky Derby. I had this itchy spot on my neck. I asked my brother to look at it. He started crowing like a rooster and the whole room erupted in laughter (and I in tears). I was so mad. First the botched fix on my car, then my parents infected me with chicken pox. Mom still feels guilty about this.

I had the lesions everywhere. EVERYWHERE! And eventually I had to go back to school covered in spots. I was already a poor cultural fit for my mostly-agricultural college. I couldn't hide, so I went flamboyant. Every day I'd go to class wearing a dog collar, wrap-around sunglasses and...scabs.

One of my finer outfits that spring involved a hibiscus-shaped skirt, a tank top leotard and black patent DeLiso pumps (with the aforementioned dog collar and black wrap-around sunglasses).  A full-on "I'm miserable, don't talk to me" outfit. I recall walking along the quad on my way to class when all of a sudden it felt like someone had stuck a twig into my inner thigh. Gross! My own thigh had ripped one of my chicken pox scabs off the other thigh.

When my uncool but warm South Pole sweater ripped the scab off my forehead, it all came rushing back. I have to go back to work tomorrow.

What outfit coordinates with a red face full of sores?

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