Thing 1 hobbled through the gate. Beneath her oversized safari hat and knock-off designer sunglasses from Claire's (the most evil of crap-filled chain stores in a mall near you if you are the parent of a tween girl), she twisted up her mouth in pain.
"Daaaaaa-deeeeeee!" she sobbed. "I got stunged by a jellyfiiiiiiiiish."
I forgave her poor conjugation of verbs this time. It was obvious she was in a world of hurt.
"Where'd he get you?"
"On the beeeeeeeeach. I was fishing … with Mom … "
(Yes, Thing 1 and My Love were pointlessly sending XXXL bloodworms to their death on the Atlantic shores while I, Non-Sportsman of the Year, lounged about the pool of our rental home, mentally calculating physics and chemical compositions in effort to correctly determine which would be frozen first -- the Bucket O' Margaritas or Bucket O' Mojitos. This was important business as cocktail hour on our vacations commence promptly at 11:03 a.m. -- EDT.)
"I figured that much, honey. I mean where on your body did you get stung?"
"My foooOOOOOOoooooooot," she crooned pathetically.
In all the hours I have logged on the beach over my 40 summers of painful family and joyful non-family vacations, I had one fleeting encounter with Aurelia aurita. It left me with an itchy, scarlet rash on my inner thigh. Lest you think it was something else, perv, I was only 9 at the time and quite unskilled in the ways of women. Well, even less skilled than I am today. Regardless, I sucked it up and didn't breathe a word of it because I was raised Roman Catholic and we just don't talk about such things. Ever.
I sorted through my memory banks for some nugget of past learning that might apply to dealing with a jellyfish sting.
Let's see, let's see ... butter? No, no -- that's for burns. At least that's what they used in that pirate movie I saw on Channel 11 once when I was a kid. Besides, we only have Smart Balance.
Meat tenderizer? Accent! Yes! … No, no, NO, dam the Yangtze! All we have is Mrs. Dash. Curse this borderline blood pressure of mine!
Scrolling, scrolling, scrolling … wait for it.
Must-See TV Thursdays. Yes. Processing.
"Friends." Monica. Joey. Beach.
In preparation for the aforementioned cocktail hour, I had been downing pint after lemon-wedged pint of seven-time filtered Aquafina -- official sponsor of my four-waking hours of daily sobriety whilst on vacation.
"OK, come with me," I said, leading her upstairs to our bathroom on the third floor. "This is my time to shine."
Thing 1 sat on the edge of the whirlpool bathtub. "Owwwwie! It stings. It stings. Owwwwwie!" she cried.
"It's OK, sweetie pie. Daddy's bladder is fully charged with liquid gold painkiller."
"Huh? Mom said put vinegar on it. Noooooooow, Daddeeeeeee!"
"Look, your Mom was raised amid a zillion square miles of cornfields. The closest she came to a jelly was bag of Swedish Fish at the matinee. Look, I'm locked and loaded."
And then I whipped out … my laptop.
See, during this whole time, I had been stalling so my Wi-Fi connection could fire up and I could double check WebMD.com. Sure enough, it confirmed vinegar followed by hydrocortisone cream, which we never travel without for reasons I'll let you ponder silently to yourself.
"All right, sweetie, what do you want: balsamic or red wine? Croutons? A little fresh pepper, perhaps?"
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My Uncool Past
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