I was 26, in my last year of grad school, living in a tiny studio apartment across the street from the University of Washington.  It was the worst Thanksgiving of my life.  Much worse than the one where Technogeek cut his hand open on a food processor blade, because, well, it wasn’t MY hand.


Back then, if you were a student, you could get good deals on airplane tickets through American Express.  (If you’re a student, you should check and see if they still offer that.)  So I had my $189 non-refundable ticket home to Ohio to see my folks.  And I had a fever.


I’m not a big wimp about illness, but 103 is a lot of degrees.  And some weird little blisters appeared on my skin.  Fever blisters?  I’d never had such a thing before.  So I did something I normally avoided—visited the student health center.  If you’ve ever been to a student health center, you know why.


“Did you have the chicken pox when you were a kid?” the doctor asked.

“No.  My mom sent me over to play with every kid who had them, but I just couldn’t catch it.”

“Well, you’ve got it now.” 


I went home and crawled into bed.  I was too sick to go to Ohio.  I was too sick to go to the grocery store.  On Thanksgiving I ordered a pizza.  They didn’t have a turkey-and-stuffing pizza, so I just got a regular one. 


“Be sure and send someone who’s had the chicken pox,” I told the guy on the phone.

“Oh…. Dude,” he said, sympathetically.


I watched Gone With the Wind on TV.  I remember talking to my dad on the phone.


“I’m watching Gone With the Wind,” I said.

“That’s a good movie,” he said.  “Well, gotta go.  Turkey’s ready!”


was more than a week before new blisters stopped appearing, and another
week before they were all scabbed over and I was officially not
contagious.  I missed a lot of classes.


I went to see my professor.  “I’m way behind,” I told him.  “I had the chicken pox.”

He glared at me suspiciously.  “Chicken pox?!”  Everyone knows you get chicken pox when you’re a kid, not when you’re a grad student.  I resisted the urge to pull up my shirt and show him all my scabs.   


In order to get my non-refundable plane ticket refunded, I had to go to the student health center again.  They wrote a letter explaining that I was too sick to travel that day.  Then I had to take a bus downtown and give it to the American Express guy. 


He said, “You had the chicken pox on THANKSGIVING?  Dude…”


That was 15 years ago, and I’ve never fully recovered from the trauma.  But I’ll tell you this: As God is my witness, I’ll never have chicken pox again!


23 thoughts on “

  1. I think I was a year older than you when I caught the pox from my kids.  It was no fun, and I can totally relate.  Like you, my mom sent me to play with every kid in the neighborhood who came down with them, but nothing.  We assumed I was immune.  Hah !
    Happy Thanksgiving !

  2. They used the term ‘dude’ 15 years ago?
    ps. You’re obviously not cooking if you’ve had time to blog.Whatever you’re doing… enjoy!

  3. I had chicken pox twice.  Though I have no recollection of the fact, I do distinctly remember hearing my mom say that I’d had one of the lightest cases on record, which I guess is why the immunity to a second attack did not kick in until the second time around.

  4. This post reminds me of the time I spent two weeks in the hospital when I was a little boy. They did all these tests and never found out why I had such a terrible stomach virus. It weren’t on a holiday though, but it was in the summertime. And every single day of summer is like a holiday to a kid. Happy non-pox Thanksgiving!

  5. I’ll be thinking of you–lifting up your shirt and revealing your lovely scabs–while I enjoy my dinner today!Happy Thanksgiving and glad you’re not sick today!Kaz

  6. I see that someone beat me to it, but I came over here to tell you that  NOW, since you’ve had the chicken pox, you’re a candidate for the Shingles.  I had chicken pox as a kid, and the shingles while vacationing in Florida, about 6 weeks ago.  I had intended to get the shot for prevention, on my next visit to the doctor, but the shingles got there first.  I hope it’s still an option to get it so I won’t have a repeat of the shingles. 
    Here’s hoping you’re having a MUCH BETTER THANKSGIVING THIS YEAR.   HAPPY THANKSGIVING.   Granny

  7. You poor baby!  I remember the Chicken Pox of ’91.  I really did try to get you to catch it in childhood.  When you didn’t I assumed your immune system was so good you’d never get it….Oh DUDE.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you and T. Geek, the girls, Cindy and Gungaboy…and his grandma!
    Love, Mom

  8. Wait–this was a PROFESSOR and he doubted that you got chicken pox? Not too bright, was he? You should’ve pulled up your shirt–anyone can get chicken pox at any age if they’ve never contracted it. DUH!


  10. Despite what people say about not being able to catch chicken pox twice, I have actually had chicken pox three times.  Once when I was three, again when I was seven, and again when I was twelve.  I’m something of a medical anomaly.  And yeah, it sucked.  But I think my immune system finally caught on.

  11. You poor thing, my brother got the pox in college too, not on Thanksgiving though, he had them for a month. He was sick as a dog, not sure if you read this blog i worte but my brother was compelled to tell semi ex the long and horrible story about the chicken pox adult thing. Smei ex never had them, so guess where he went when my kids got them, off to mommy and daddys house. yeah that was a month of hell for me!!!! Hope this thanksgiving was much better.

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