Oblivion – Florida Tan Tuesday – Part 7

I don’t remember much of the rest of the trip to Naples beyond Grandma S’s regretting the fact that she couldn’t hug and squeeze me as she was prone to do. I remember hearing her say “bless his little heart” numerous times when she would glance in my direction, a phrase she was famous for (bless his/her/their little heart) and seeing the washed out image of a black and white western (most likely a John Wayne picture) playing on her portable TV. And I noticed she still had the compact stereo turntable, which was an incentive for joining the Columbia House Record Club. We all had one. In fact I still have the speakers from ours somewhere, but I’m getting off the track. And next to her was a smoldering Chesterfield in an ashtray. That was the extent of my awareness during the entire visit before I must have lost consciousness and I also have no recollection of the trip home, whether I was so exhausted I was able to sleep or if I sat up with my arms draped over the front seat. Perhaps I did and fell asleep in that position. I just don’t remember.

As a matter of fact, the rest of my glorious Florida vacation remains sketchy. I think I must have finally resigned myself to the fact that nothing really vacation-like was going to take place and slept and stayed out of everyone’s way while they salvaged what they could of the trip. Most daily, though, Grandma B’s neighbor, Aretta, would come over to check on the patient. Being a true dyed in the wool southerner, she could completely sympathize with my dilemma.

There was a new development in my condition later in the week. I started to form blisters, little yellowish pus-filled abscesses like the ones that plagued Linda while she was still with us down there. It was all I could do to keep from touching them–you know how things like that just call to be touched, sometimes to the breaking point, like a loose thread on a shirt that you keep on pulling at until you’ve got a huge hole under your arm.

Also later in the week I was able to walk a little easier. I still had to stand on my tippy toes and keep moving so I wouldn’t loose my balance and go flatfooted and experience that ripping skin sensation. I was even feeling well enough one day to join everyone on a trip to Publix grocery store. It was a chance to get out and I went for it. I used a cart to hold onto, like a walker, to get around the store, cruising up and down the aisles, even sometimes reaching for stuff off the shelves and only those items between shoulder and waist high. I had to put my entire body robotically into because I could stretch my arms only so far, and couldn’t grab anything very heavy. A box of Pop Tarts was my limit. I came across a particular food product I used to conduct telephone consumer surveys about for a marketing research company I worked for while I was in my senior year of high school and before I started my job in the factory, the one with the crazy Italian lady…remember her? I don’t remember the name of this boxed food product–Kitchen Kettle, Country Kitchen…I’ll try to find out and let you know, but it was a complete meat dish (with gravy and diced veggies) in a sealed foil pouch that got heated in a pot of boiling water, snipped open and poured onto your plate, maybe over rice or pasta or by itself. It was processed so that  the DVD sized boxes could be stored in your cabinet. We picked up a few flavors to try them, and as I recall, they weren’t bad. They were sold only in the southern states.

At one point, as we were walking around the store, I noticed a wet spot on the front of my shirt and I also noticed the sensation of possibly sweat running down my back. The store was nicely air conditioned so it couldn’t have been that. And for sure it was not sweat. It was the ever enlarging blisters erupting. Perfect timing. In public. Further humiliation. Just what I needed.

But this was not the last time I would deal with an outbreak of blisters as you’ll see in next week’s serio-comic and ironic conclusion to this story.


One Response to “Oblivion – Florida Tan Tuesday – Part 7”

  1. Melissa Says:

    Oh … my … gosh! I am finally catching up with your Florida Tan story(although, somehow “tan” doesn’t seem to be the appropriate word). In fact, I just read all 7 installments in one sitting. And it was brutal! Your story has turned my whole world upside down. Beyond the queasiness and the butterflies in my stomach, I actually did have to look away from the story for a minute to ensure that I would not pass out! I’m afraid to touch anyone now because I have this feeling that everyone I look at is suffering from a horrible sunburn, and I don’t want to hurt them! ??? I have been near tears for the past few hours just thinking of what an awful ordeal you had to endure! I guess one thing us outsiders can get out of it all is a sense of hope. If you can get through that misery, then there’s nothing we can’t overcome! We shall overcome!!

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