To my horror, what seemed to be a tiny patch of hives peeked out at me from between two toes as I kicked off my slippers and got into bed. I’ve never had hives before in my life. “Good grief, how stressed could I be?” I wondered as I scratched the tiny itch. Not any more stressed than I, or anyone else has been over the past two years. I mean, sure – I could think of a couple of things, but nothing that said, “Oh, my God – THAT’S why you have hives!” Whenever I keep up with my daily chanting, it’s hard for much to shake me. But okay, I’ll cop to it – I have hives. Happy Holidays.
The next morning I grabbed a handful of butt and scratched. The hell? I pulled down my pants and glanced over my shoulder into the bathroom mirror at one of the worst things I’ve ever seen, besides my pandemic-sized ass. The whole thing – this side of the crack, that side of the crack, covered up in big red welts. I doubted it was shingles as what I knew about that particular plague looked more like a bunch of zits that usually appeared on your lower back and sides.
“I’ll have him call you sometime today, but I can’t say when.” My doctor’s tightly wound assistant, who almost never has an answer as looseleaf as this. “He’s got a lot going on. And news flash – he’s REALLY loving Zoom.”
“Well, who doesn’t?” I said, trying to sound engaged. “My ass looks like a head of cauliflower and it needs to be gone. Now.”
“I promise. Today.”
“Okay, “ I said, trying to scratch the inside of my ear with my cereal spoon. Crap, I hope it’s not spreading.
I know damned well I have no business going into Bloomingdales when it’s now way past three and I’ve still heard nothing. Sure enough, before I even make it to the sweaters, I pull the ringing phone from my pocket.
I duck past the counter where the perfume sales clerk looks at me like he smells something bad.
“Hey,” I answer. “I’m in a store, but I’m here.”
“I hear you fine. What’s going on?” He hollers at someone to make sure it’s 25 mg and not 10.
“I’m having some sort of – hive episode. A couple places on my foot – and my butt looks like a puddle of baby puke. I don’t think I’m any more stressed than—”
“I’ve known you 25 years. You’re always stressed.”
“I’m going to send you a Zoom invite right now. Go somewhere private. Okay, here it comes.”
“Wait, we’re doing a Zoom?”
He’s gone. I check my email – dang, he’s fast.
One of the Housewives from whatever show I’ve never watched is trying to return something she didn’t buy here. The perfume clerk is having none of it.
I look over her shoulder to find the restroom.
A man and his son are talking about elves as they exit my Zoom safe place. I look around at the abandoned surroundings and disappear into the big Disabled stall.
I look at my phone just as my doc admits me into the meeting.
“I know it’s not shingles,” I say, “since I got both my shots in the past couple years from you. But this is bad. I want to scratch the skin off my ass – and a couple places off my feet.”
“Can I see your feet?”
“Well, they’re in my shoes – and socks. And there’s not much there. Like I said, my ass is another story.”
“Put me on speaker and show me your butt.”
“Are you somewhere private yet? Show me your caboose.” He says it really loud.
Wow. I attempt to lower my voice. “I think someone’s in here but okay.”
I may or may not have heard a chuckle.
“So what – should I just scan it with my phone?”
“Sure,” he says. “Easy-peasy.”
“Wow. Okay. I’m just gonna pull down my pants and we’ll just – go from there.”
“Sounds good,” he says.
“Could you possibly talk a bit softer?” I ask. “I mean – it’s private but—”
Someone else either enters or exits the bathroom, I can’t say which. I take a deep breath and start scanning my butt.
“Not much there as far as I can see.”
Okay. This is gonna be hell. Might as well just take off everything and run buck-ass naked down Wilshire Boulevard.
“Wait – it’s more on my lower butt cheek.”
“Go a little to the left,” he says. “Now up. UP, I said.” He’s practically yelling. “Okay, that’s good. Now just hold still for a second.”
“You’re not talking any softer,” I say, thinking of the last porn I never saw because I’d never watch any such thing.
“Can I see the other cheek?”
Someone enters the next stall. Kill me now. “I’m having a Zoom with my doctor,” I say meekly to anyone who may be listening.
“Can you show me your other butt cheek again?”
“Sure,” I said, and this time I definitely heard someone snicker.
He does that groaning thing people do when they’re taking something in but not ready to speak yet. I hate him so much.
“Okay, you can pull your pants up. You’ve had a reaction to something. Could be some weird food thing or even your booster. I know this sounds crazy, but take two Zyrtec and two Pepcid every day for the next two weeks and that should take care of it. Weird allergy cocktail that works for some reason.
“And for God’s sake, man, get back to the gym.”
“Wow, I’m turning you into the NMA – or the MDA – whatever it is. And you better not be charging me for this.”
“Oh, I’m charging you. Merry Christmas!”
I make the decision not to do any more explaining to any of the other stalls and just run straight for the door.
“Dude,” the guy with the kind face washing his hands at the sink says, “I hope you’re better soon.”
“Thanks,” I say as I back out into the store where a giant well-coifed Santa greets me from the corner. I half-expect some sort of ho-ho-ho but decide a Bloomingdale’s Santa would be way too refined to actually say something.
“Ho-ho-ho,” I say under my breath, already knowing this Christmas with its politics, tornados and butt rashes won’t be like any other.
But at least I know I’m not stressed.