I can't take credit for this little gem. I picked the letters of my name out of a set of scrabble tiles and left them on the kitchen table with a note that said, "Make a sentence." Someone did. It just so happened to be the week of June 17th, 1994.
Ele is my nickname for Ella who, of course, is my good friend, Umbrella. ella ella ay ay... ay... ella.
I'm at work.. the first job straight out of college. I have my first big meeting where I'm going to tell my bosses and my bosses' boss how I think they should architect a particular plan and why their ideas are antiquated and wrong. One of the bosses' boss is a serious asshole who has it out for me.
In other words, I'm pretty nervous.
Now, you may not know this, but I'm a big sweater. No, not like that comfy, warm thing you like to wear in the winter... If you put me in an empty bucket in the sun, I'd probably drown myself. Gross? Nah... I've embraced the sweat. It is a good time.
Back to the meeting. I'm early, setting up my presentation and slightly freaking out. My white shirt and tie are perfect, khakis are pressed... yadda yadda yadda. The first guest arrives. We chit chat for a bit and I kind of brush my sleeve to my forehead like I have an itch.. I'm really trying to wipe some sweat off my brow. I'm sure it isn't obvious... right?
I noticed I had a little blue spot on my white sleeve. No big deal, just a spot. I continue the nervous babble as people are arriving. My nerves are about shot and the conference room is in direct sunlight... it is hot.
I try my little, 'wipe the pouring sweat using your sleeve and pretend no one notices' routine. I look down.. another blue stain on my left arm. What is going on?
The meeting is about to begin. The asshole arrives. He's got some mustard on his chin. Fucking asshole.
I decide it might be a good idea to run to the bathroom and splash some ice cold water in my face in an effort to close my pours... I mean, pores. So, I do.
I get to the bathroom and notice I don't look so good. Kind of green, actually. I've never looked green in my life. What the hell does it mean when someone looks, green?
Now I know. I look like shit. I turn on the water.
The first splash is pretty normal. I look in the mirror and notice another blue stain on the inside of my collar. Think, ring-around-the-collar, except blue. Twah? The second splash is what got me. I look in the sink and notice the water has a tidy bowl kind of look to it. A very faint hint of blue.
I notice the water running down my arm is... blue... What?
I grab a paper towel and start to dry off. Blue. Everything is blue.
I wipe my forehead with a white paper towel... blue. The friggin' thing turns blue. I loosened my bright orange tie and unbuttoned my collar. The entire thing is soaked in blue sweat.
Sweet jesus... I'm sweating blue. What the fuck???
I grab a stack of paper towels and head back to the meeting more nervous than before. What is going on?
I sit down,
Karen looks at me and says, "Hey, you look like you're freaking out. Are you ok?"
Not being one for ever hiding a funny story, I say, "I'm sweating blue and I'm a little weirded out about the whole situation."
Try saying that to a conference room full of your bosses. They'll look at you like you're nuts. That's why I brought in the paper towels.
"Look," I said as I brushed a towel across the back of my neck. "I'm not kidding." I showed the room. "I'm sweating blue."
I love being the center of attention, except when I'm in the middle of a bizarre medical condition and sweating my ass off... Blue. The whole deal makes me sweat more. The more I sweat, the more blue comes rolling off my body. My face, neck, arms, even my freakin' legs are sweating blue. As a bead of sweat runs down my face, it gets more blue... darker and darker as it rolls.
No shit. I am sweating blue.
My boss looks at me and says, "Do you want to go home?"
I have no idea what is going on... So, I'm like, "well, maybe I should go call my doctor."
So, I do.
I jog back to my cube and make the call.
I'll spare you the details. Let's just say it was funny as shit. The poor receptionist at my dirty doctor had no idea what to do. My doctor didn't know what to do. They looked it up and called me back.. still, no clue.
So, I run back to the meeting and finish up my presentation. By time I'm done there is a pile of lightly tinted blue paper towels in the trash and everyone in my office is looking at me like I'm a leper.
The day is about over so I go home. The lobby is full of mirrors. I notice a faint blue tint to the area on my back where I was sitting in the chair. I think, Am I going to die today?
About half way home I think, Wait a minute. I put those new, dark green flannel sheets on my bed last night.
Yeah... the entire thing was because of the new sheets. I have no idea how or why, but even though I had washed them before putting them on my bed, the dye somehow rubbed off on me during the night. It was so light you could barely see it on my skin. However, the second it hit water, it turned bright blue. I have no idea how it lasted through my morning shower. You should have seen the white towel I used to dry off that morning. I must have been completely asleep not to notice the towel.
Summer, 1983. In bare feet on wet grass we're jumping past puddles to the trampoline she got for her 10th birthday.
I grab her hand to help her onto the tramp. She's more worried about holding her skirt than falling over so I give a swift tug. She flops over the edge and lets out a cute yelp. Laughing, we crawl to the middle of the mat. It is still damp from last night's storm, but we don't care.
We lie on our backs and scoot to each other's side. There isn't a star in the sky tonight. Only street lights shining with orange halos through thick air. The trees look tired. Their twisted branches and torn leaves are heavy with humidity and wet.
She stretches her hands toward the sky, twists her wrists and sighs... "Do you think you'll have trouble remembering me someday?"
"What do you mean?"
"I don't know. It's just..." Her hands drop to her side. "We've been friends forever."
"Yeah?" A wet sprig of leaves tickles the back of my hand. I pick it up, have a look, and toss it in the grass.
"Next year we'll be so far apart. I'll be sad when you forget about me." She turns over and bounces lightly to her feet. "I almost don't want to go."
I see something new or, rather, different. I feel it in my stomach. There is beauty there. She's almost floating, gently twirling. She is made of meat.
She smiles, springs up and comes down hard. With that, the trampoline bounces me directly in her path. Coming down on me in a flailing mess of arms and legs, she yells, "JACK!" and grabs onto me hard to stop the bounce.
With her arms wound tightly around my waist and face buried in my side she says, "Oh my god, I need you."
"Whaaaahh?" I tense up. The springs in the tramp squeak and creak.
Laughing, she looks up at me, "I need you!"
"You need me?" I'm shaking my head. "But, we've been friends since Kindergar..."
Still laughing she cuts me off, "No! I need you."
Automatically my hands slide under the back of her shirt. I pull her close. Our lips touch.
"OH GOD!!!!" she thrusts away from me. "What are you doing??!?!"
"But... You said you need me."
She's backing further away. "I did! But why the hell did you kiss me?"
"You grabbed onto me and said you needed me." With my hands out -palms up- I shrug. "What was I supposed to do?"
"No! No! No!" Shaking her head, "I neeeeeeed you."
"I heard you!"
"No, dammit!" She points to her knee. "I kneed you. I kneed you in the balls. Are you ok?"
"Oh... Knees… Balls… You missed… I'm fine… Are you?"
She nods, "Yeah, I'm ok."
I hesitate... "Isn't it funny how the highway always sounds further away on nights like this?"
You had a cough, runny nose... bronchitis? No problem, take some Robitussin. I grew up in a house where "Bless you!" was replaced by "Take some 'tussin."
You fell off your bike and shoved the pedal through your calf? Dab some Mercurochrome on it.
You got bit by a brown recluse and you rolled around in poison ivy all afternoon? Smear some Campho Phenique on that smelly, oozing rash... You'll be fine..
That was all we needed. Three meds. The miracle trifecta that just might cure a cancer given the chance. Someone really should conduct a study to look into that.
I stopped by my dad's house after work. I can't remember exactly why, but I was in the middle of the 924 engine swap and probably needed to borrow some tools.
Like the perfect storm, two of my brothers pulled in the driveway behind me. I don't really know why or how we all managed to converge at dad's place, but we did and I didn't mind. It's always a good time hanging out with everyone in the old house. It wasn't ten minutes before my brothers were in the basement digging out old slot cars and the Atari. Good times.
I was upstairs in the kitchen trying to find something to eat when I touched the back of my neck. "CRAP!"
My dad looked up, "What's wrong?"
"Jesus." I rubbed my neck and squirmed like a little bitch. "My neck is killing me. I think I'm getting a zit."
"Let me see that." He fumbled for his glasses. "You know what's the best thing for something like that?"
"A dab of Campho Phenique."
A shout from the basement: "PUT SOME 'TUSSIN ON IT!"
That was the moment where everything went down. The second my brother yelled the funniest thing I heard that year, my dad pulled a move I will never forget.
In one well-timed, well-honed, one-handed move he conjured up a bottle of Campho Phenique, opened it, stuck his big thumb over the opening, flipped it over, flipped it back and wiped a big swath of smelly, greasy goo right on the back of my neck.
Like a dirty hitler, but... not as dirty... and on my neck...
There we were, standing in the kitchen. Grease-neck and captain of the monkey squad. His actions were swift and precise. He was proud. It all happened so fast I couldn't think. I had nothing.
I took a deep breath, shrugged and said, "Ok then." I thought, This'll be funny as hell if it actually works.
I woke up early the next day... The pain was amazing. Who kicked me in the back of neck? I headed straight to the bathroom. I could feel this was a zit unlike any other.
It took a minute of bending and contorting before I realized the bathroom mirror was useless to me. I yelled. "DOOD! Get in here. I need you to look at something for me."
Thinking back, that was probably not something any room mate would want to hear. Especially at 7am from behind a closed bathroom door. Of course he came right in. I turned and pointed.
His eyes got big - "WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT!?!?!? WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT?!?!?" He was jumping around like a lunatic, laughing. "WHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHHAA!!! Holy hell. That's the biggest zit I ever did see.”
"Don't let it pop. I gotta get the camera."
"Let me get a penny we can use to show scale."
He calmed down a bit, "That is UNREAL. How did you grow that thing?"
"My dad got me with the Campho Phenique last night."
"Yep. That'll happen."