Seeing as this is post 10, I wanted to introduce a new segment for myself in which I recount an actual even in my life as opposed to making one up. “NonFiction” will always be an installment retelling some dumb story from my past, which sometimes is more funny or horrifying than what I could make up.
March Rashness or The Story of How I Got a Dog and Became a Teacher – pt.1
“I’m fat,” came the reply. This was a typical, if not standard, answer from Dr. Litt whenever asked how he was doing. He was not fat — not in the slightest, but always asserted himself as so. “More importantly, how are you my fine fellow?”
“Well…” I replied, lifting my pants legs “, see for yourself.”
Dr. Litt laughed, placing his hand over his eyes. Something about his demeanor and laugh made me think of Burgess Meredith and Jimmy Durante. A touch dry, exceedingly merry and alert, all with just a hint of sympathy — especially when he laughed. You could tell it was the kind of laugh that said “Son, I’ve seen quite a bit but this is still hilarious.” On this particular doctor’s visit, I drove him to chuckle with a rather ravenous case of poison ivy.
“It’s March!” he exclaimed. “How the heck did you come by poison ivy? Were you skiing?”
“Uh, no? Skiing… I have never been ski—” I tried to explain.
“I ask this because many times when skiers are out on the slopes, they sometimes find their way into wooded areas. Well, that is to say they crash into them. Pines mostly,” he clapped his hands for effect. “And when they DO, more often than not they grab the drunk for dear life, likely trying to stop themselves. Every once in a while, that trunk has poison ivy growing up it and well, there you have it. Poison ivy in the winter.”
My mind quickly processed the doubly awful nature of not only wrecking on skis into a tree, then only to realize you contracted poison ivy.
“What an insult to injury! Ugh, could you imagine?” I said. Dr. Litt merely raised his eyebrows looking away, then back to me.
“So, you were not skiing and did not hit a tree, so please tell me how this…uh, tragedy has come to befall you?”
I launched into my tragic little saga.
To begin, I asked him if he recalled the unseasonably nice day we had a few weeks before hand. Neither of us being a stranger to Cleveland weather, more specifically Cleveland Marches, he too remember that brief glimpse of 63º. I had gone for a run outside much like a handful of others in my neighborhood. No doubt all of us were feeling the itch to get outside. Oh wait, hold on a second, catch that little pun there? Hell, if this were a movie that would be the best goddamn foreshadowing of what’s to come since Roy Schneider said “I think we need a bigger boat.” Anyways… After the run, I dogged lazily into my backyard. Having just moved into my place the previous Fall, my focus on prepping a livable space remained on the inside of the house. The yard had yet to be touched.
Standing there in the matted grass, a warm breeze on my legs, I surveyed the complete rats nest that was sadly my backyard. The inexplicable fire that roused me to leave my couch to jog had not yet died off and was no lighting the kindling in my brain that said “work on the yard.” I opened my as yet repaired shed and found a rake.
Divided by something that may have once been a chainlink fence, my yard backs up to a neighbor’s backyard. Along this division line was a collection of detritus — natural and human — that looked as if tree and person a like had been piling their respective trash here in a collective. In my most productive state, I chose to tackle this area first.
At the start, it was mainly leaves. Giant, sopping piles of leaves. As I raked them out, the half broken down sludge of former leaves spattered against my knees and shins, along with disturbed grubs I was no doubt killing prematurely. This was the first time I though to myself “go get pants”. The weather was still nice and by then most of the leaves had been pulled back, so I was ok. I kept going.
I soon came across cinder blocks. As in plural. As in a goddamn lot of them — seven to be exact, along with enough regular bricks that I could have built a stone oven on my lawn. I still might. As I rip these bastards from the ground, I continue to fight twigs and sticks and dead, brown vines that look as if somebody ironed out a tumbleweed. For a second time I think “go get pants”. There are cuts on my legs now from broken bricks and the raking of the vines as I tangle in them. But I say no to myself, because I am a man. A man working in the yard with sweat on his back and mud in his eyes. A man who after running 4 miles, defeating this damn yard, will then contemplate killing a Yak with his bare hands, roasting it over a bonfire of his enemies (the leaves) and call out god for a punchfight.
That was when I found the BigWheel.
Ensnared in more of the ironed tumbleweed vines, I tried in vain to rip it free. I then noticed it was not completely restrained by just the vines alone, but infect had been wired to the fence with some type of vinyl cord. Upon further inspection, I saw that the back wheel had another cable wrapped around it. An electrical cable. A power line. Tracing it back behind my shed, I discovered with a fair amount of relief that it was not an active line. Instead, it was a cable of a few others connected to an ancient downed transformer that was laying behind the shed as well.
Having found both sources of restraint, I cut away the knots tied to the fence, grabbed the electrical cable and pulled. The whole daisy chain of BigWheel, vinyl cord and transformer came rocketing at me. In this battle, more leaves and dead bugs had found their way on my bleeding shins. A third and final time I thought “go get pants”. Instead of doing that, I just opted to go in and shower.
Two days later, while sitting at my desk, I thought I had been bitten by a spider. My leg itched, badly. I rolled up my pants and saw all hell breaking loose.
“Which is why, I’m here.” I said. Dr. Litt laughed again, patting my shoulder this time. “I know, I know — stupid.”
“Well…” he raised his hands. “We know how to treat it at least. Now you have the ointment, right? Ok. That will treat the topical areas that are affected. But you also said something about it itching in other places?”
“Yes, even when it goes away, it still itches like crazy. I’m starting to loose sleep!” I probably whined.
“Ah, ok then. Well, when the urishol gets into the blood stream, it can live in the subcutaneous layers of the skin, causing reactions below your dermal layers. As it goes through your system, it can choose to irritate any given place your blood goes. This why your having that ‘phantom itching’. But again, not to worry, we can alleviate that as well. Hydroxy-dehydrocorticosterone administered via your glutæus medusa,” he said, with a satisfied smile.
Feeling like the skier, foolishly hugging the tree, his own proverbial dignity flapping in the wind, I asked “And that is?”
“A shot in the ass.” I’ll be right back.