Camp is done. After a long Thursday night of yelling at my kids on the Island, I awoke with an achy throat. This was no surprise, as supressing the chaos that results from little urchins hitting a 12-year-old bigfoot with a wooden sign puts a lot of strain on the voice box. My throat felt as though a bag lady was dragging her laquered nails around inside, and the waters in my brain rolled and boiled my thoughts while I slept. One night I tossed and turned as the e-boat flew around inside the cabin. Three days of fever dreams, restless sleep and exhausting work made for a wonderful Service Project Day. I helped pull five sailboats out of the swamp.
Back in civilization, my parents took concern and asked that I visit the doctor. I did. I signed in, sat down and dug into some some banal 9-11 commentary and other useless tripe in Esquire magazine. Twenty minutes later, I wondered when they would actually call me back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins.
“Excuse me, but when are you going to call me back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins?”
“Er Did you-oops. I guess we forgot to have you fill out your paperwork.”
After spelling my name right and casually flipping through kayaks in Outside magazine, I was invited back into the nice little room with pictures of dolphins. I told them I got a sore throat after yelling at kids. They said this was normal. I told them it was three days ago and my glands hurt and goodness I hope its not mono because I’ve already had mono and have you ever worked at a summer camp-
“It won’t be mono.”
Alright! Something new, something exciting! Now we spin the Wheel of Maladies and see what the micro-biological realm hath wrought! Culture my throat! Take my blood pressure! Bug out your eyes when you see how fit I am after hauling sailboats out of the swamp! Raugh!
“Yep, you’ve got strep throat. It’s very contagious; spread through tiny water droplets during speech. What are you doing the next couple days?”
“Infecting as many people as possible, of course. Have you read ‘The Stand’?”
I felt powerful roaming around Target waiting for my prescription to be filled. I was in the awkward purgatory between diagnosis and treatment, and I felt like a super-villian. YARG! I can channel the sickly fluids out of my body! I am the host! My touch is death (or mild discomfort)! I escaped my wagon quarantine to poison all you hapless folk! Fear my lack of beer!
Speaking of lack of beer… just a moment…
Killing time, I went shampoo shopping, which is a quest that always succeeds in cowing the manliest of men. I couldn’t decide what I wanted my hair to smell like: Mangos, jasmine, green tea, citrus, melon, rose hips, eleven herbs and spices… finally I settled on coconut. Coconut hair. Good old coconut, conjuring up images of endless sand beaches laced with broken beer bottles and bare feet (shoes are forbidden at Surf Camp, even though the bus drives you into town every night to buy booze), turquoise waters brimming with sharks, and a steady 30 mph tradewind you can set your chronometer to. Yes, yes. This man must be an expert windsurfer, just smell his hair!
I wandered back to the pharmacy, but the lady that barked at me for going to the wrong window, which was now, for me, the right window, had three people in line. Her make-up scared me so I chilled on over to some other beckoning trinkets. Lots of crap was on clearance, so I bought it. All. I transferred my bank account from a communist society, where money is in surplus but goods are in demand, into a capitalist society, where goods are in surplus but money is in demand. I bought the parking lot, which they’re rolling up and throwing on flatbed trucks as we speak. I’ve gotta pave some shit.
So I then returned to the pharmacy line, which now had five people that were all uglier than the ones that were previously in line. I decided to wait it out, as there were exciting things to look at, like the hot store-bought tan mom that was trying desperately to cling to her youth. She looked sad. So did the non-prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solutions waiting next to the pharmacy line. No one cared about them because they were so boring. Why put such boring products in a place where people are bound to be waiting? Come on, I wanna look at some C02 lasers and other cool shit when I’m waiting to get my RU-486.
Ten minutes later I was next; to be serviced by the creepy make-up lady that made me want to cry or the old woman helping the other old woman who kept muttering inaudibly to herself for the entire five minutes I watched her. Which would it be! Spin the Wheel of Pharmaceutical Serviceability!
Old lady was the winner! I went to the counter, choked out my name, and then she searched alphabetically for my drugs… and searched… and searched… then went to the other place where they stored drugs… and searched… and searched… then went to the computer where they convert pure energy into matter in the molecular structure of drugs, and searched… then back. Then back again. Then back again. Then my address. Then back again. Ten minutes had now passed at the register. She recruited help. Another pharmacy employee came up to me.
“Are you being helped?”
I’m being helped, but just barely.”
“You people are incompetent at your job and do not deserve to work in close proximity to drugs.”
She did not appreciate my signature brand of criticism. Finally, after 15 minutes at the register, which followed 10 minutes in line, which followed 35 minutes in the store, my prescription manifested itself. I paid and left, muttering windsurfing curses under my breath.
Since I had amassed clearance crap in such amounts that could not be purchased at the right pharmacy window, I had to go to the main registers to leave the store without gaining a criminal record. I found a good line, got settled in, only to hear from the front:
“Your total is $170,” said the employee to the old man.
“How is that possible?” asked the old man. “I only have four of these.”
“Oh dear. Umm, well, I’m fucking incompetent as well, and I don’t deserve this job that pays more than $30 a day and doesn’t involve rinsing vomit out of trash cans,” said the employee.
She got on the phone and flipped on the register’s emergency flashers. I swore, more audibly than before, and went to the next line over. It was a nice line as well. The woman in front of me was buying picture frames and bedsheets. They now sell Tic Tacs packaged with Bic lighters, so you can commit arson with fresh breath. Her total was rung, the Mastercard was about to swipe…
“How would you like to save ten percent on your purchases today?” asked the employee.
“I would love to!!!” said the woman with frames and bedsheets. “I am ever so intrigued!!!!!! HOW CAN IT HAPPEN??!!”
The employee whipped out a credit card application. The woman squealed in glee. The ill little boy groaned every foul word he could conjure up. Five minutes of credit card application, authorization and administration passed. The woman left. I approached the register.
And paid. And left. And listened to Weezer in my wagon.
Total elapsed time: 3 hours.