After a long season of non-stop work, having all but transformed into a half man, half desk centaur-like creature, I am going to Bali to unwind.
And whereas some people in my place would be thinking about bathing suits and beach reads, I am thinking about travel-related illness. Typhoid. Tetanus. All the sicknesses of the rainbow – and spiders, too. According to the Internet, there are lots of poisonous ones in Indonesia. And unlike Peter Parker who was made into a unitarded Uber-Mensch, I see my spider bite as more of a prolonged hospital stay kind of thing, where much to the disgust of the staff, my coward's death would unfold.
Clutching my Canadian health insurance documentation with one hand and the hem of the nurse's smock with the other, I'd whisper through tears and mucus, "Please don't leave me."
While there might not be much I can do about spider bites, I can do my best to safeguard against sickness, so I go see my childhood friend, Jackie, now a doctor, for shots of everything I can.
"Load me up," I say, seated on the doctor's table, my sleeve rolled up.
"Stop flinching," Dr. Jackie says. She's having fun, trying to make me squirm by brandishing the hypodermic like Riff in Westside Story with a shiv.
After much stagecraft, she pokes it in and I keep cool. I'm a scaredy-cat, but I'm also proud.
On the way home, I find myself wondering whether there were any other shots I should have gotten. Measles? Lupus? I see myself at the Bali General in the throes of a fever delirium.
"I'm phobic about needles," I'd say to my nurse, all death bed confessional.
"This isn't a needle," she'd say. "It's a turkey baster. I'm basting you a turkey for Canadian Thanksgiving."
"Has it been cooked through and through," I'd ask. "I'm equally phobic about salmonella."
I make a mental note to pack Valium.
[Flickr image via Ephemeral Scraps