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… that embarrassing moment that still makes you queasy to think of … involving another person … now triple that. And add the mortification of decades.

Your worst nightmare.

The thing that every woman dreads

But hardly ever happens.

But it happened.

Such was the day my friend Toozie has had.

She is laughing about it. I’d be in mental treatment for weeks …

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far, away … there was a young Toozie who attended the local High School and had many friends.

Since we are roughly the same age, I know that this time frame was filled with all the things that made the sixties and early seventies that time of which songs were written. The bywords of the day were “Sex, Drugs and Rock and Roll”.

And much like today, there was peer pressure and those things that make your stomach churn many years after the fact.

Enter Toozie’s friends. I will call two of them Mercedes and Greta. All of the friends enjoyed the benefits of youth … and partying … and social experimentation. But the three of them excelled in it … and good times were had by all.

Extremely good times.

Competition was great among the friends to be seen as one of the cool kids. And to dress the best and do the best. So when one day Mercedes called together all her friends to say something important, the curiosity was heavy in the air.

The friends were informed that , although much fun had been had by all, she no longer was going to be their friend. She was now moving into the upper echelon of local society … such as that might be in a very, very small town.

She was now dating the richest kid in town.

And since she was the prettiest of them all, that was to be expected.

She now had to be careful about her reputation … which at that time was not much to speak of. And she feared that if she continued being friends, one of them would eventually blurt out some of her secret indiscretions.

And she just could not have that.

So the prettiest girl went off leaving her now ex-friends behind … and eventually married the rich boy. But did not live happily ever after. Three rich husbands later, she still lives in this town.

And although she no longer is the prettiest girl around … not by far … old habits and thoughts die hard. And Toozie still envisioned her as the most popular and prettiest. The one everyone wanted to be like … until she dumped her friends.

In all the years, Toozie only ran into her once … when her son was being photographed for a store catalog.

Mercedes approached her. “What on earth are YOU doing here?” she asked.

“Well, my son was asked to be in a catalog” Toozie replied.

“Why on earth would they want YOUR son for a catalog?”

“Maybe because he is a cute kid?”

“Well I have two cute kids … and I wasn’t asked to bring them in.” Mercedes said indignantly.

You get the idea.

Mercedes is the one who thought she was better than everyone. And everyone thought she was too. And was intimidated by her. Even though she could no longer be bothered with them.

Toozie and Greta have remained fast friends to this day … and occasionally have wondered about Mercedes and her holier-than-thou attitude. And Greta calls and visits regularly.

But about today.

Yes, the picture on the left here is real … not photoshopped … sent to my friend Texas Linda … everyone seems to have a nickname in this town except me … taken by her nephew … who is on the police department down in Texas.

Have you ever felt this way?

Road Kill … with or without the Get Well Soon balloon.

Well. now you know roughly how Toozie has been feeling these last several days … as her sore throat, upset stomach and associated gastric and digestive symptoms have wreaked havoc with her already challenged immune system.

Folks with chronic illnesses are, shall we say, more challenged when hit with something as common as the flu.

Let me draw you a mental picture as she described herself to me.

She had just thrown up all the remaining contents of her stomach. After spending most of the morning in the bathroom with flu-like symptoms. 

Yes, those. 

Unlike a typical day, her hair is not in pony tail … although there are remnants of yesterdays pony tail among the disheveled hair she is sporting.

She is wearing old Snoopy pajama bottoms … torn and ill-fitting … and a long sleeve hooded t-shirt … warm, but certainly not of a remotely matching color or style.

Her skin is pale as death … and she has all the energy of a drowned kitten.

A she collapses into her bed, there is a knock on the door downstairs.

“Come in …” she calls weakly.

And instead of the home health care worker she was expecting, or one of her friends she hears a voice … low … saying “This is the way it is at Toozie’s house … you just come in and then you go upstairs to see her in bed.”

“Who is it? Who is there?” she asked.

And the voice answered “It is Mercedes.”

Time stopped.

All her worst childhood memories come flooding back … and the thoughts flew through her mind.

“This is unreal. I must be dreaming.”

“Mercedes? Who has been nothing but rich? And put together? Is here? Today?”

“And I look like … this?”

“No it is not … Greta is playing a trick on me. She has to be.”

So she called out … hoping against hope … “Greta? Is that you?”

It wasn’t. It was Mercedes.

Who came walking through the door. Not as put together as when she was in her teens and early twenties, but put together nonetheless.

“Toozie! I heard you were dying. Brian told me.” she said.

Well, at that particular moment it did feel something like that … and as Jud said in Pet Sematary “Sometimes dead is better”.

Various and sundry physical maladies flew through her mind… all of which she would have gladly preferred to be suffering from instead of a visit from Mercedes … and she has chronic illness.

She has decided to kill Brian.

Its only fair.

About the time she came to this decision, she noticed some of the lunch which had been expelled earlier … clinging to her hair and shirt.

A wonderful appearance to be sure.

As she later said to me “Of all the things … of all the people … but hey, at least I have my teeth now.”

Grateful for small blessings.

Her advice from it all … always do your morning ablutions … and if you feel like death warmed over … by all means, lock your front door.

And I thought I had it bad.

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