'I cannot go to school today,' Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
'I have the measles & the mumps.
A gash, a rash, and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry. I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chickenpox
And ther's one more-that's seventeen. And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue-
It might be the instamatic flue.
I cough and sneeze and gasp & choke I'm sure that my left leg is broke
My hip hurts when I move my chin
My belly-button is caving in
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained My 'pendix pains each time it rains
My nose is cold, my toes are numb
I have a sliver in the thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak, I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight My temperature is one-o-eight
My brain is shrunk I cannot hear
There is a hole inside my ear
I have a hangnail and my heart is ---what?! What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is ... Saturday?! G'bye, I'm going out to play!
As a young kid, I was an avid reader. I loved to prop myself up on a tree limb so I could oversee the world around me or I'd coop myself in a closet to escape the world of four walls and all held within ... with some black & white of someone else's colorful world to read. I'd make a teepee out of my bedsheets and read well beyond the wee hours of the night, often not finding sleep until my father had arisen to fetch his morning paper.
In the summer of my third grade, I was given lone time with my grandparents some 5 hours north of where my family lived. My grandmother indulged me at the general store allowing me to buy a good book or two. When she discovered that I had blazed through my books in no time, she told me to grab a book from her Harlequinn closet... where she kept the motherload of paperback fantasies to be traded with her fellow romance reader friends. The shelves were stacked with books running left to right, two and three rows deep. Shelf after shelf of them. The summer of 76 saw the beginning & end of my romance novel reading ways. It was a summer of love.
Nana and I spent our week-days lounging by the pool, reading our romance novels in between trips to the bakery, farmers' market & the butcher. On Fridays, we went to the laundromat & while the clothes were spun clean, we spun wild stories of the harlequin kind in our minds.
My aunt was a school teacher who lived in Atlanta & while I was at Nana's for the summer, she came down to visit. Upon discovering my nose dug deep in some silly novel she dropped her jaw to the floor and asked me what I was reading. I told her it was a story about a girl whose mother had died & found herself to be the orphaned at the age of 18 because she had never known her dad. Upon her mother's death, she discovered that her father, who had died many years earlier had left her a mansion with lots of horses. She moved there and was falling in love with her dad's equestrian partner.
My Aunt went to the kitchen & I heard "Mother! You can't let her read those books! She's just a child!"
My grandmother laughed..."Can you beleive how well she reads?! She can read an entire book in just a day or two. She's read almost all of the ones written by Violet Winspear...I am so proud of her."
"Mother! Those books are full of smut!"
"No more than our newspapers, magazines & television."
"Mother! They are filled with explicit details."
"Not as explicit as the National Geographic! Now, calm down. A good fantasy or two never hurt anyone."
"Mother! She's too young... she'll develop nymphomania!"
"My Lord Child, there are worse things than that and at least she's reading! Now just calm down."
My mind raced...what was the problem? Why shouldn't a young girl read romance novels? What was so explicit about National Geographic? What was nyphomania?
Later I asked my Aunt what nymphomania was & she shot me the eye. "Well....?"
"It's a disease & you don't want it. It affects your mind" and like another page turned in my little romance novel, the subject was changed.
Months later, now in fourth grade, I found myself dreading school. I was sick of little Abby with her painted red nails & I was sick of calling time on the swingset. I was sick of the walk to school & that crazy dog who would latch hold of my pants leg and not let go. I was just sick of school. Hmmm....
I couldn't tell my mother that I was sick of such things and honestly expect to be allowed to skip school for the day. No. Those sicknesses would never work. I needed to be sick, seriously sick to be allowed to stay home. Then it hit me...
"Mom I can't go to school today. I'm sick... really sick"
"Well, you don't look sick."
"I'm really sick Mom! It's not the kind of sickness you can see."
"Really? Well, what kind of sickness is that?"
"I think I have nymphomania. It's a disease of the mind."
Momma said 'Just Give Me Peace'
Monday, April 23, 2007