It’s winter. It’s a time of snow, it’s a time of sleet. It’s a time of ice, it’s a time of… sickness!
Ah, the season of coughs, sneezes and sniffles. Just the smell of Vicks VapoRub takes me waaay back – to childhood. Early childhood. The sickest I’ve ever been was when I had the measles. Back then, there was no vaccine. Lucky kids nowadays don’t have to suffer like I did, along with millions of children… unless, that is, their parents are anti-vaccine types. Don’t get me started.
My point, though, is that having measles was utterly miserable. As a three-year-old, all I knew was that I was HOT and ITCHY and ICKY. The one saving grace was that my mom let me nap all day long on the sofa in the living room. That was pretty special. (Hey, it didn’t take much in those unspoiled days of old… Nowadays such a child would be demanding an iPhone to keep her company – the latest one, preferably with a pink Hello Kitty case.)
The next year I got chicken pox, also a lousy illness – maybe even more so, because BY GOD did those spots itch!! Arghhh!
But germ warfare wasn’t through with me yet. Ten days before my wedding, I got German measles. The irony is that once again I got to sleep in the living room of my parents’ apartment – this time because they’d just moved into a one-bedroom place, because, after all, I was about to be married and live with my beloved – so why did they have to get a two-bedroom, if I was leaving very soon?
The next appearance of spots took place in 1978. This, I won’t ever forget. I was taking a two-week French intensive course for a quick credit at CEGEP (Junior college, for non-Quebecois readers). My eight-year-old daughter was in school all day, and my four-year-old son was in day care. After class one day, I went to pick up my son. One of the day-care educators met me in the doorway with him. She needed to speak to me, she said.
Oh? What’s the problem, I asked. Well, she said, very apologetically, we’ve had a few cases of chicken-pox here in the day care…
Oh no! I thought. Please not now, not now, not now! I silently prayed.
Look, she said, and raised his little t-shirt up in front about two inches. I saw two little red spots there. Oh, I said, oh pooh, that’s nothing! Ha ha! Bye, see you tomorrow!
When we got home there were four spots. An hour later, eight. You get the picture. Several days later he was covered head to toe in spots, and a few days after that, my daughter too. I swear, if it hadn’t been for my mom who saved the day by moving in with us until they were well, my two-week intensive French course would’ve been in the “terlet” as Archie Bunker used to say.
I commiserated with them in the evenings, poor little tykes. In fact I have to say it was this bout of germs that started me on a songwriting phase that lasted about a dozen years or so. My first song consisted of only two guitar chords and was called: Chicken Pox Spots. As I recall, one of the verses went, Spots on your neck/Spots on your face/Chicken Pox Spots go/Everyplace.