Friday, July 29, 2011

Awk Squawk: Potential Side Effects

It's July and the baby doctors are popping up like daisies.

By baby doctors, I don't mean pediatricians, but residents in their first year. (Note to self: July is a bad time to have a life-threatening illness.) Being the hypochondriac supernerd daughter of Dr. Dad, I don't tolerate anything less than premium care. I know what questions to ask, what to be skeptical about, and when to put my foot down. This strikes fear into the hearts of those who aren't quite comfortable in their lab coats.

When a baby doc tried to prescribe me an antibiotic (which I circled on my medical history and starred with a note that I have a lot of trouble with antibiotics) for my skin (which wasn't that bad) I decided to ask a couple questions.

BabyDoc: So I think we should put you on a dose of -
Me: Is this like Accutane? Am I going to have flipper babies?
BabyDoc: I uh... What?
Me:  Flipper babies. You know, babies with flippers. Like... birth defects. If I accidentally get pregnant or something.
BabyDoc: Oh um... no, I don't think this causes birth defects unless you take it late in pregnancy. And um... nothing like flippers. Flippers? I don't think so...
Me: Ok, super! Any other potential side effects I should look out for?

And that, my friends, is how you break in a new doctor.

A case of mistaken identity part II: Celebrity death

I sometimes feel an instant kinship with people who share my first name. Not that R. is particularly uncommon; I think it's usually in the top 250 baby names yearly, but I still feel a slight zing of connection with someone who shares my name. A couple of my favorite friends share my name: R. Z is living la bella vita in Italy, R. T is my favorite Ivy-Leaguer, and R. Davis is one of my favorite friends dating back to our first year of high school.

But we weren't always good friends.

One of my first memorable interactions with her left me looking like an idiot and her thinking I was a heartless jerk.

Our high school, DHC had about 1200 students and was pretty tight-knit, as we pulled largely from the southern/country/Jesus-loving community. Gossip would spread like wildfire. But just like in little-kid games of Telephone, sometimes that message can get convoluted with terrible results.

One day at school, the name of a very popular wrestler/boxer was all over school. (For privacy, we'll say "Hulk Hogan," but it was a much more common name.) Hulk Hogan was dead! Suicide! Tragedy. Everybody seemed legitimately distraught about the death of this popular wrestler. I could not understand - I mean, I knew WWF wrestling was pretty big in the area, but girls were CRYING in the hallway. This was before the celebrity deathapalooza of Anna Nicole Smith and the like, and before facebook when celeb info was instantaneous. What the hell was going on? Why were people visibly freaking out about some guy on TV dying?

In Geometry class, a couple people in my group of friends mentioned it, how it was such a tragedy blah blah blah. My friends were not the type to watch pro-wrestling. So I, in my infinite wisdom, decided to open my mouth.

"I don't understand why everyone's so upset about this Hulk Hogan guy dying. He's just a wrestler. I didn't think people really cared about that kind of stuff enough to be, you know, freaking out over his death."
R. Davis, a girl on the peripheral of my friend group who I admired for her awesome hair and cool Vans slip-ons (once again: not the type to watch pro-wrestling) turned to me, horrified.
"Well you're just a cross country runner, but I bet you'd want people to be upset if you died."

What? What did me running cross country have to do with anything? I was on the measly JV team, not like I'd been earning millions jumping on men in spandex. I would hope people would miss me, since I actually went to the school and talked to people every day. Not like I was some super star celebrity none of these kids had ever met.

We both glared at each other until the bell rang. Her glare was pretty contemptuous, as though I was some soulless cretin. My glare was a mixture of confusion and superiority. Who the hell freaks out over the death of a wrestler with a silly mustache? And asks me what if I died? Some people, sheesh.

Until I got home from school.

My mom looked at me very seriously: "Did you know Hulk Hogan? Are you okay?"

I had had enough. "Why would I know Hulk Hogan? He's some big celebrity wrestler guy. Why is everyone so upset over this? People are SO STUPID."

"Honey, he was a senior at your school. He was on the varsity wrestling team."


Not only did the kid share the name of this celebrity, but they played the same sport. Well then.
This new information dawned on what my conversation with R. Davis must have been perceived as. She thought I'd argued against classmates mourning the death of a friend because he played a sport I didn't like. I'd loudly announced that I didn't see what the big deal was, he was just some guy.

Oh. Shit.

I raced into geometry the next morning and ran up to R. Davis, who looked a little put off that this slanderer of the dead was all up in her personal space. I blurted out a breathless apology.

"Ohmygod I'm so sorry about Hulk Hogan / I thought they meant the Hulk Hogan from TV / you know / the famous wrestler guy / I thought he was just a famous wrestler not a classmate / I must have sounded like a terrible person / I'm not a terrible person really / oh god I feel terrible I told everyone not to care about him / I'm sorry you definitely should have been mad at me / I'm an idiot."

She looked at me, somewhere between confused, amused, and slightly appalled.

"You thought... Hulk Hogan... was the WWF wrestler? The crazy guy? With the mustache?" I nodded.

She laughed.

We became friends and she (for the most part) has grown used to my terrible bumbling tactlessness.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Awk Squawk: Lady Mom and naughtiness

Awk Squawk is a new feature. Like "Gawk at the Awk" focusing on photos, Awk Squawk is funny or uncomfortable snippets of conversation that may not warrant a whole framing story. To inaugurate this, I'd like to highlight a couple inappropriate comments made from my usually buttoned-up Lady Mom.

Me, age 16, talking to a friend: I accidentally kicked her [another friend's] glove compartment and a whip fell out at my feet.
LM: You are too young to be having sex! Especially kinky sex!
Me: How old do I need to be to have kinky sex?

Brother (to me): Girls suck at science, and especially math (cue long-winded tirade)
LM: (holds thumb and pointer finger apart) Well if women weren't told all their lives that this was nine inches, maybe we'd be a little better at math.

And a gem from Dr. Dad, another reason I'm a hypochondriac:

Me: I think I might have strep...
Dr. Dad: You could have gonorrhea of the throat.
Me: Well I know it's not that because -
Dr. Dad: WOAH. STOP. I don't want to hear anything about my daughter and sex. No. Bad. Don't do it.
Me: You just suggested I had gonorrhea! And I was trying to prove you wrong.
Dr. Dad: But I was joking. Don't have sex. Don't get STDs. I've got to go, bye.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

A case of mistaken identity

I'm baaaack.

I am pretty knowledgeable about outdoorsy stuff. Dr. Dad is, in fact, working on (or has? I can't keep up.) his Advanced Wilderness Medicine Certification. That is something legitimate that doctors can obtain. He is so prepared for a post-apocalyptic wasteland it's not even funny.


One of my friends, the future senator, texted me the other afternoon: "What is chinaberry?"

Chinaberry? Clearly it was a type of berry (duh) and I felt like I'd seen it advertised in homeopathic health miracle plant cure type advertisements. I texted back, with my outdoorsy skill and prowess that it was one of those hip, super-healthy plants akin to acai. Everyone loves acai, right? He didn't respond, so I figured he'd gotten a great big jug of chinaberry juice from Weaver St Market and gone about his day.

Later that night, I was relaying the story to some girls I had over for a wine & baking night. (Have you ever had moscato wine with homemade choc chip cookies? Mmmmm.) None of them knew what a chinaberry was either, they decided to look it up on Wikipedia.

There is a whole subheading titled "Toxicity" about how poisonous and deadly the Chinaberry is to humans. A whole paragraph detailing "if you eat this you are so dead for real."

And I had just told the future senator that it was a super health food.
And he hadn't contacted me since.

In a panic, I called FS while my friends were giggling at my mistake and his possible demise (see: wine). The conversation went something like this:

FS: Hello? R?
FS: What are you talking about?
Me: Chinaberries, I said they were a super health berry but they're not, they're really deadly and if you had any you should call poison control right now. Are you okay? Did you eat any? I'm so so sorry I just assumed they were like acai please don't die-
FS: I was asking about Chinaberry, the new store above Starbucks. I wanted to know if you'd heard of it.
Me: Oh. A store named Chinaberry? No, um, I haven't been to Starbucks in a while. So you didn't eat any? You're okay?
FS: So you don't know anything about the store?
Me: OH YOURE NOT GONNA DIE THANK GOODNESS. I've got to go drink wine and bake cookies, glad you're alive byeee.

I will probably catch a substantial amount of grief when I return to the Hill for my woefully wrong assumption about the plant/store and my complete meltdown/freakout.

Moral of the story:
Acai berries: Good
Chinaberries: Bad
Also, know the context of a question before you make an ass out of yourself.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The heathen missionary incident: A Nicaragua story

I am usually pretty good with different cultures.

My hometown had a large Indian population for middle-of-nowhere North Carolina. My best friend in elementary school was Hindu. I developed a taste for spicy curry and goat cheese before I turned ten. Dr. Dad works with residents from all over, and I've been to dinners from Bengali to Ethiopian to Chinese. I was once friends with someone who practiced psychic Vampirism. I know when to take my shoes off, when to cover my knees, when to bite back a scathing retort when someone asks me why I'm not married yet.

One week in Nicaragua? Got this.

I went to Nicaragua in summer of 09 with my dad and a couple people from our church and Georgia for missionary work and setting up a medical clinic in a rural area. Weird Central American diseases? Awww, hell heavens yeah!

At first, my days were divided between the clinic in the morning (triage, pharmacy help, observing and helping out Dr. Dad, avoiding get worms in my feet) and helping out with the children's Bible Study in the afternoon. I didn't really care for the the official children's ministry, because it was lead by two women who flew first-class into Nicaragua and still complained that the extra 45lbs of luggage alloted wasn't enough. And they wore fancy makeup in the village. Really? Do you even understand the point of missionary work? I didn't think rolling your eyes at your BFF and asking the translator to "please get the kids to shut up and listen" was any sort of example to be setting. So I drifted from that to observing Dr. Dad or playing with the kids  straggling around the clinic.

I knew minimal spanish. I make my way around, and knew enough to belay my relationship woes (mi corazon esta roto!) but that was about it. Also the days could get really long and tedious. What translates over in any language, I wondered? GAMES! If I could teach the kids a simple game, we could play for hours and they could teach me little words along the way.

I pulled out my deck of playing cards, because I thought a nice, not-running-around game of Go Fish! or Wat would be a great way to calm them down and get out of the heat. Also, numbers. I could count in Spanish and say more/less, so that would help explain the games in addition to my spazzy gestures.

I start counting and laying out the cards, getting them organized, and a couple kids give me curious glances. Some of them drift away. I think perhaps they're shocked by these nice shiny cards, but encourage them excitedly to stay and play. I then notice that a couple of the village men are clumped together, staring at me. Some are talking loudly; some are pointing. I start to feel a little uncomfortable. Something about me is obviously causing unrest. I pull aside my favorite translator, Angel, and ask him what the hubbub's about. He sees the cards in my hand.

"What are you doing?!" He exclaims. "Where did you get those? What are you doing with them?"
"I was trying to play counting games with the kids, but they kept running away."
"Why would you do something like that?"
"Because it was fun? And we were bored? Wait,  is there something wrong with playing cards?"
"Oh, oh, you don't know? Really?"

He then explained to me that gambling is a big problem in Nicaragua. Christians, especially those in less cultured areas, view playing cards as a sign of gambling, which is also considered a MAJOR SIN. These  people thought I was trying to lead their children into sin right in front of a Christian clinic. Temptation by a devil in a floor length skirt.

I, of course, was horrified, and relayed my mistake and sincere apologies to the parents through the translator. I also conveyed the story to the program leader, so if anyone came asking him about the situation he'd know the truth. And also warn everyone else for future reference.

So in my quest to have some fun with the kids, I ended up convincing them I was a heathen in disguise. Better luck next time?

Side note: Sorry I've been offline for a week. It was the 4th and then my birthday!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Gawk at the awk: Plaid is Rad

This picture would have been okay if 1) we were celebrating our scottish heritage or 2) Lady Mother had previously had a wild love affair with Johnny Rotten. Neither of these are true, sadly. (I mean, how cool would it be if the proper Lady Mother had once been a punk rawk groupie? But I digress.) I am also wearing my beloved lace-trimmed socks, probably sewn by my badass great aunt Willa Mae. Willa Mae adorned all my sock-tops with lace or beading. I though kids with plain socks were sad little paupers.

Take away the turtlenecks, the tights (I like how Lady Mother's legs are five shades darker than her face.) and attack the outfits with hedge clippers and safety pins, and we would have been one smokin' hot family. Vivienne Westwood would want to be my godmother, we would look that punk rawk awesome. I wish I could rock Lady Mother's frosted pixie - probably the most Alt-not-lame part of this photo.