Icy Showers and Rotten Sausage part 2

We toodled happily through the hills of Virginia in high spirits for a couple of hours till Cousin Kathleen asked for a rest stop. She wasn’t feeling so well. Uh oh! Still fearing the onset of food poisoning, I wheeled into a service station and she scurried for the Ladies Room. We filled the car, took our break, and waited. She came out looking a little green around the gills. “I ain’t feeling too peart. Something must be going around. I have a feeling I knew what was going around, that rotten sausage rolling around in her gut.

“Do you think we ought to go back home? I don’t want to take you off sick.”

“I’m fine. I just kinda’ had loose bowels.” That phrase always gave me visions of a person walking along with their arms full of slippery guts that periodically escaped and slipped to the ground. “I think I am fine now. My stomach’s rumblin’ a little. Think I’ll have a little bite to settle it.”

The sharp smell of rancid sausage assaulted us as she unwrapped a sausage-biscuit she dug out of her purse. “I’m sorry I ain’t got enough for y’all, but I didn’t want to waste this last piece.”

We couldn’t talk her out of eating it, and she cleaned it up, even licking its wax paper wrapper. Around noon, we stopped at a rest area for our picnic, spreading it out on a table under a shade tree. Several other groups were picnicking close by. Cousin Kat wasn’t hungry, so she headed for the restroom, telling us “Y’all go ahead and eat. I need a few minutes to sponge off a little.” That sounded ominous, but I didn’t offer to go along, assuming she wanted privacy.

By the time she came out, she looked bad. At a nearby picnic pavilion a couple with three little children was putting out their lunch. Dad smoothed the red and white checkered cloth and corralled the kiddies as Mom laid out the matching napkins and dishes. It was obvious tradition meant a lot to these parents since the kid’s clothes matched and Dad pulled out a nice camera and set up a tripod. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and family photos until Cousin Kat walked up, leaned against one of the poles of their pavilion and started projectile vomiting in their direction. She continued retching as they hurriedly packed their things, apparently in no mood for a new tradition.

When she regained her equilibrium, drank a Seven-Up, declaring she was fine now. “Sometimes I just get real sick like that, then it’s all over. Let’s get on down the road!”

She must have had a constitution of iron. We couldn’t talk her into going home, so we headed on. All was well for a couple of hours, then she got nauseated. I pulled over so she could retch to her heart’s content. Reaching in the car behind her, she grabbed Mother’s brand new red fleece jacket to wipe herself up with. Mother is still griping about her ruining that jacket. We whipped into a hotel and got a room, so she could rest and recover. We loaded her with fluids. I tried to get her to go to the Emergency Room but she would have no part of it. You can’t make an apparently competent adult go to the Emergency Room against their will. Believe me, I tried. Every time she opened her eyes, I had her drinking fluids.

After a few hours, she seemed better. At her suggestion, the rest of us walked over to the hotel restaurant for dinner. When we got back in an hour or so, the room smelled like a charnel house after a fresh episode of diarrhea and vomiting. Worst of all, her hemorrhoid had flared up and started bleeding. There was a bloody, poopy mess on the toilet, the walls, and a trail back to the bed where she lay sleeping like a baby. We made sure she was okay, gave her more to drink, and got to work on the mess, calling for extra towels to clean up. We also had to wash her clothes, since she’d already messed up the two outfits she’d brought. Then we headed to the pharmacy for remedies and air fresheners. Just in case you don’t know, they don’t give that stuff away. It was not a good night.

Somehow, we made it through the night. The next morning, she’d won her gastrointestinal battle. Now all she had to deal with was agonizing hemorrhoids. Her generous descriptions of her progress and suffering did not make her a better travel partner. We did some anti-climatic sightseeing in Amish Country, due to her ailments. Naturally, she didn’t feel like getting out, so we just made abbreviated stops. The only place she got out was at a quilt shop, where she was outraged at their prices. She’d thought she might be able pick up a nice quilt for twenty-five dollars.

We headed out early the next morning, determined to drop her off and head home to Louisiana. We had no intention of ever spending another night at her house. I think she was happy to see us leave, especially since we left her pantry well-stocked.

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Icy Showers and Rotten Sausage part 2

We toodled happily through the hills of Virginia in high spirits for a couple of hours till Cousin Kathleen asked for a rest stop. She wasn’t feeling so well. Uh oh! Still fearing the onset of food poisoning, I wheeled into a service station and she scurried for the Ladies Room. We filled the car, took our break, and waited. She came out looking a little green around the gills. “I ain’t feeling too peart. Something must be going around. I have a feeling I knew what was going around, that rotten sausage rolling around in her gut.

“Do you think we ought to go back home? I don’t want to take you off sick.”

“I’m fine. I just kinda’ had loose bowels.” That phrase always gave me visions of a person walking along with their arms full of slippery guts that periodically escaped and slipped to the ground. “I think I am fine now. My stomach’s rumblin’ a little. Think I’ll have a little bite to settle it.”

The sharp smell of rancid sausage assaulted us as she unwrapped a sausage-biscuit she dug out of her purse. “I’m sorry I ain’t got enough for y’all, but I didn’t want to waste this last piece.”

We couldn’t talk her out of eating it, and she cleaned it up, even licking its wax paper wrapper. Around noon, we stopped at a rest area for our picnic, spreading it out on a table under a shade tree. Several other groups were picnicking close by. Cousin Kat wasn’t hungry, so she headed for the restroom, telling us “Y’all go ahead and eat. I need a few minutes to sponge off a little.” That sounded ominous, but I didn’t offer to go along, assuming she wanted privacy.

By the time she came out, she looked bad. At a nearby picnic pavilion a couple with three little children was putting out their lunch. Dad smoothed the red and white checkered cloth and corralled the kiddies as Mom laid out the matching napkins and dishes. It was obvious tradition meant a lot to these parents since the kid’s clothes matched and Dad pulled out a nice camera and set up a tripod. It was a beautiful day for a picnic and family photos until Cousin Kat walked up, leaned against one of the poles of their pavilion and started projectile vomitng in their direction. She continued retching as they hurriedly packed their things, apparently in no mood for a new tradition.

When she regained her equilibrium, drank a Seven-Up, declaring she was fine now. “Sometimes I just get real sick like that, then it’s all over. Let’s get on down the road!”

She must have had a constitution of iron. We couldn’t talk her husband into going home, so we headed on. All was well for a couple of hours, then she got nauseated. I pulled over so she could retch to her heart’s content. Reaching in the car behind her, she grabbed Mother’s brand new red fleece jacket to wipe herself up with. Mother is still griping about her ruining that jacket. We whipped into a hotel and got a room, so she could rest and recover. We loaded her with fluids. I tried to get her to go to the Emergency Room but she would have no part of it. You can’t make an apparently competent adult go to the Emergency Room against their will. Believe me, I tried. Every time she opened her eyes, I had her drinking fluids.

After a few hours, she seemed better. At her suggestion, the rest of us walked over to the hotel restaurant for dinner. When we got back in an hour or so, the room smelled like a charnel house after a fresh episode of diarrhea and vomiting. Worst of all, her hemorrhoid had flared up and started bleeding. There was a bloody, poopy mess on the toilet, the walls, and a trail back to the bed where she lay sleeping like a baby. We made sure she was okay, gave her more to drink, and got to work on the mess, calling for extra towels to clean up. We also had to wash her clothes, since she’d already messed up the two outfits she’d brought. Then we headed to the pharmacy for remedies and air fresheners. Just in case you don’t know, they don’t give that stuff away. It was not a good night.

Somehow, we made it through the night. The next morning, she’d won her gastrointestinal battle. Now all she had to deal with was agonizing hemorrhoids. Her generous in descriptions of her progress and suffering did not make her a better travel partner. We did some anti-climatic sightseeing in Amish Country, due to her ailments. Naturally, she didn’t feel like getting out, so we just made abbreviated stops. The only place she got out was at a quilt shop, where she was outraged at their prices. She’d thought she might be able pick up a nice quilt for twenty-five dollars.

We headed out early the next morning, determined to drop her off and head home to Louisiana. We had no intention of ever spending another night at her house. I think she was happy to see us leave, especially since we left her pantry well-stocked.

Home Perms Run Amuk

Five kidsI have enjoyed blogging so much this past year and a half.  I have met so many friends and enjoyed incredible writing.  Following Bunkarydo’s example, I am reposting my first post. Pictured above:  upper left Linda Swain Bethea holding Connie Swain Miller’s hands, Billy Swain, Phyllis Swain Barrington holding Marilyn Swain Grisham.

To curly-haired people Mother might have seemed mild-mannered enough, but beneath her calm exterior she nursed a sadistic streak, committing home permanents with malice aforethought, ignoring her helpless daughters’ protests that “I like my hair this way.” and “nobody but old ladies have THAT kind of hair.” squashing arguments with a terrifying directive, “Don’t dispute my word.” “Disputing my word” assured swift and terrible punishment, followed by a furious lecture about how great we had it and ending tearfully with, “and I would have given anything to have a permanent wave like Margaret Lucille, but I had to wear my hair chopped off straight around.” Had I met Margaret Lucille, the author of my misery, I would have gladly pulled out every permanently-waved hair on her despicable head. I hated her than Mother.

Around July 4th every summer, Mother would casually start to dangle the threat that she had to give us a permanent before school started. We’d protest vainly against her response that “She wasn’t going to look at that long, stringy hair all year.” A procrastinator, Mother didn’t get to the evil deed right away. Just before Labor Day, when the humiliation of last year’s perm had grown out enough to be approaching normalcy, Mother would stretch her budget to include a home permanent for each of us. I would have been grateful for cyanide when she dragged out those hateful pink and white “Lilt” boxes. After a long night of dreading the inevitable, Mother got us up early to clean the house so she could start the long perming process. I dragged over to borrow the pink curlers from Miss Joyce, the next door neighbor, hoping to be hit by a truck. When I got back home, defeated, I surrendered to my frizzy fate. Mother seated me on a kitchen chair and cut my hair, using her time-honored secret for a perfect hairdo. She methodically divided my luscious locks (my description, not hers)into sections, started at the bottom, and held up about fifty hairs at a time, measured them against a mark she’d made on a rat-tail comb, and cut. My mood became increasingly glum as she measured and cut, measured and cut.

After an interminable period, I was ready for the next step. Mother opened the home permanent kit and mixed the deadly chemicals, assaulting the senses with the sulfurous scent of rotten eggs and a healthy touch of essence of pee. Dividing what remained of my hair into tiny sections, wetting it with putrid permanent solution, she wrapped it in papers, and wound it as tight as possible on the hard pink plastic curlers. If my eyes weren’t popping out enough, she’d rewind. Once this misery was accomplished, she sent me on to enjoy the rest of the day, anticipating the frizzy mess I could expect tomorrow, and got to work on my sister’s hair. I tried to stay out of sight to avoid being ridiculed by the neighbor kids.

After trouble and expense of inflicting a perm on us, Mother made us leave the hard plastic curlers in overnight, fearing an early release might let the curl “fall out.” My fine hair was no match for the perm solution, and I was never fortunate enough for my curl to “fall out.” I was glad to get the curlers out the next morning, but dreaded the reveal of the “fried, frizzy, old lady hairdo.” I was never disappointed. Mother took the perm curlers out and we all looked like Brillo Pads. When we complained about how horrible it looked, Mother assured us it would be fine after we rolled it. That just postponed the disaster. When the brush rollers and hair pens came out at the end of the day, it was always even worse than I remembered from the year before. I wanted to die. Mother always tried to cheer us up by saying, “The frizz will wear off in about a week.” When we weren’t cheered by that, she offered the cold comfort, “Well, it will always grow back. Now, dry up.I’ve heard enough!”  I still don’t think she’s heard nearly enough.  There should not be a statute of limitations on those who abuse helpless children with home-perms.

She worked herself into a self-righteous frenzy of pity when we refused to be grateful for the torture she’d inflicted on us just to ensure we’d be social outcasts for another year. We always went back to school with a frizzy mess, looking we’d escaped from an insane granny cult. The fact that my sisters shared my fate did nothing to cheer me. Who wants to look like that bunch of freaks?