Every year around this time I turn into somewhat of a monster. It’s not my personality so much as it is my face. I am, once again, covered in welts. I tried. Believe me I tried, but I still don’t really know what poison ivy actually looks like. No matter how many posters of leaves they show me, all plants look alike. And so, once again, I failed to avoid the ones that cause my skin to explode.
The welts are everywhere. They’ve found their way into places that don’t even make any sense. I can’t tell anyone about these places because they’ll think I did something in the woods that I would never do. And yet, I’m terrible when it comes to keeping secrets.
They just sort of projectile right out of me.
The only thing worse than the fact that I have to keep some of my welts a secret is that the ones around my eyes and cheek are red and swollen, and oozing. Oozing eyes and cheeks are always a conversation starter.
On the way to my son’s graduation ceremony (he’s leaving middle school for high school) I decided that it would be in my best interest to wear sunglasses in the auditorium to both hide my eyes and avoid any sort of interaction at all. My plan was to stand in the back of the room and give off, "don’t look at me or talk to me" vibes.
Cool people wear sunglasses indoors all the time, I thought to myself. And nobody has the nerve to question them.
Thirty seconds. Thirty God damned seconds. That’s how long it took for someone to ask me why I was wearing sunglasses indoors.
"Oh! It’s because I have poison ivy!" I said and immediately lifted my glasses to show her.
But then I quickly resumed my stance.
Unfortunately, seeing my son up there accepting his diploma and shaking hands with the headmaster caused me to burst into tears.
He’s a very cute kid.
As I lifted my sunglasses to wipe away my tears, another woman approached me.
"What happened to your cheek? Did you hurt yourself?"
I thought about this for a second. I could have, in fact, hurt myself, in a very interesting way. I tried to think fast. Motorcycle accident. . .hang gliding mishap. . .run in with a wild animal in the Demarest Nature Center.
But then I spewed.
"No, I didn’t hurt myself. I just have a rash."
A few minutes later.
"Dan really gave it to ya, huh?"
This time a man was talking to me. Men always make the wife beater joke whenever my face is oozing.
Except it’s not funny.
"Ha Ha," I answered. "Yes, he really gave it to me this time. Right in the eye."
And then I lifted up my shirt, right there in the auditorium, to show the guy my stomach.
"He gave it to me here too."
Next, I lifted my pant leg to show him the red streaks climbing up my calf.
"Gross," the man answered.
"Yes, it is gross, isn’t it? I agree. And you should see my vagina."
No one else came up to me after that–which got me thinking. . .
Next year when I get poison ivy, which I will, without question– I’m not going to wear sunglasses and hide in the back of the room. I’m just going to get myself a "you should see my vagina" t-shirt. That way nobody will talk to me and I’ll be able to keep my secrets to myself.