January 1st, 2010--the first day of this brand new decade--Bryan and I finished painting the front rooms of our house, Odessa started kissing the pictures of people she knows on the refrigerator, and...I GOT DIAGNOSED WITH THE SHINGLES. Yes, SHINGLES!
And as every story I've ever heard about the shingles starts with somebody's grandmama, make yourself comfy because I'm fixin'a tell you about the time my grandma got the shingles:
You guys remember Virginia right? Well, she got shingles in August of 1988, which was the summer she retired after 28 years of teaching English comp to each and every University of Georgia freshman ever to write a 5 paragraph essay drunk at 8:20 in the morning. And God bless her for it. Anyway, the freedom to watch The Young and the Restless every day and jump on her mini trampoline in her underpants while eating cottage cheese and talking to her friend Sylvia on the phone at 3 in the afternoon was such a shock to her system that she got shingles. Which my sister Allison and I called The Strangles because we were farm children and figured she had just contracted equine distemper.
At any rate, for reasons that mystify me now more than ever before, Virginia decided to carpe diem the hell out of those shingles and drive all five of her grandchildren to our antediluvian home in southwestern Virginia (that's right--Virginia is from Virginia; she's the eighth of ten children--most of whom were girls--so I reckon her parents were kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel for lady names by the time she came along). In hindsight, the very idea of waking up at 4:30 and piling five profoundly unenthusiastic kids between the ages of eight and thirteen into a 1979 Ford Country Squire station wagon and driving for seven hours to a place so far in the country that the telephone lines don't even go out that far, and you being the only rational adult within fifty miles of your rotting old bee-infested house, and did I mention YOUR SKIN IS ON FIRE seems just loonytunebananas to me, but let this serve as Exhibit B of what a sturdy old broad she is. It was truly Virginia and her compromised immune system versus five belligerent children.
An anecdote: One day Virginia felt so bad, she put my cousin Jason in charge of the rest of us, which made him feel as if he was responsible for making sure nobody slid down the banister. So he found a can of Raid under the sink and liberally applied it to said banister, and Allison slid down it anyway, so Jason took it upon himself to spray her with Raid in the back of the head. Needless to say, circumstances ended with five children screaming at each other and running around on the the roof, and Virginia hobbling around from window to window, threatening us with all kinds of whumpings. Later that week, Jason got partly struck by lightning.
Anyway, so here are my blessings:
1. I am not 70, so perhaps my The Shingles won't be as bad as all that.
2. I'm not currently responsible for any preteens.
3. It's not likely the rest of 2010 could possibly be as bad as it's begun. Right?