Talking to Rachel last night, I realized that sharing certain occurrences from childhood—out of context—enables you to see them in their true light.
Telling an objective third party makes you see just how ridiculous certain precautions actually were.
If we got sick when we were small and young, my mom mistrusted the temperature reading she got by asking us to hold the thermometer under our tongues. We must have fidgeted, which would, of course, mask a life-threatening brain fever or onslaught of flesh-eating bacteria from the Eagle Nebula.
She stuck it in our butts.
Sheesh, I’m embarrassed even thinking about it now. Talk about a shiver running down my spine: watching her use Vasoline to lube up a piece of glass with mercury, a harmful element, inside. Knowing that I would have to lie on my stomach on the den floor and wait as she administered this device which was supposed to be a part of the cure.
“Yes, I feel like garbage. Oh? What’s that you say? I’ll magically feel better if you stick something up my butt? Okay! Sounds peachy!”
Oh sure, and then Michael Jordan is going to come to my birthday party and carry me around on his shoulders.
Could all the doctors, scientists, and inventors not cast a care to all the poor children out there stretched out in all their shame in the most frequently traveled room in the house with only Granny Dean’s afghan to cover their fragile pride?
Granny Dean’s afghan had holes in it, so the thermometer could stick through. Our tiny bums were like creme-colored hillocks skewered by a radio tower. I was getting a signal and a message alright: never tell anyone that you’re sick. Terrible things happen to tender places.
There’s a thought that will put the chill of death in your bones: Dad walking through the den and oopsy! wasn’t watching where he was going and stepped on the thermometer and drove it like the point of a spear through the delicate tissue of your something-you-need-intact-to-be-a-confident-adult.
It could have happened. Seriously.
Holy crap. I can’t believe the modern kid doesn’t have to go through this rite of passage. They get a slight tickle in the ear canal, and voila! no more cause for concern.
“No, Mom, I don’t have a fever. Even if I did, I’d rather die from it than endure another one of your medical treatments.”
I know she did her best. My dad, too. But for the love of all that is holy, please don’t stick glass in my butt! Not in the name of science, not for the sake of my health. Just please let me die here with my dignity intact. And no, I don’t want any orange sherbert and Sprite.
Thanks for nothing, 1980s.