My “Save JumbleMash” Contribution.
Hi, I’m Dangerboy. When Jumble posted “I need guest bloggers. Badly”, I had two reactions. The first was to re-read it with the voice from Gauntlet II: “Red Warrior needs food badly!” The second was to think “How can I not help?” Jumble was one of my first followers, after all. And this blogging thing seems to thrive on community, which means making connections, and pitching in when we can. So without further preamble, I’d like drop my quarter in, so we don’t hear the ominous “Jumble Mash is about to die”.
I’m going to deviate slightly from the suggestions that Jumble laid out, though I’m branching from the theme of “awful first date.” I’ve been lucky enough to never really have a memorably bad first date. It was always the last that stuck out in my mind. I did, however, have a story on deck from my honeymoon with Wifefish. I’ll share the moral of the story now: great, awesome things sometimes have a price.
Wifefish and I honeymooned in Florida, splitting our time between a romantic one-bedroom cottage on the beach of Sanibel Island and being overgrown kids in Orlando. Despite some distractions , it was a mostly wonderful time. Note that word, “mostly.” It’s going to be important here in a bit.
The cottage was wonderful, set at the point where Sanibel and Captiva islands nearly touch. Imagine the glorious ability to walk out of your back door and be on one of the best beaches for seashells that exists anywhere…Sanibel is legendary for its shelling. For someone from the Midwest, this was as decadent a time as we needed.
We saved money by eating in mostly, using the grill in the back “yard” for steaks and such. We spent most of our time on the beach, though we also explored the island from time to time, and of course we also retreated to the cottage bedroom a bit…you only get one honeymoon, after all.
On our last night at Sanibel, we decided to steal away into the darkness for a romantic rendezvous on the beach. We grabbed a couple of towels and, grinning like school children about to skip class for the first time, set out into the night.
The beach, as we had hoped, was deserted. What followed was a time of giggling, of gasping, and freezing stock still everytime a set of headlights went by on the road. It was wonderful. For just a while, we were love. It was one of those events that lives perpetually in the art gallery of the mind, perfectly framed and preserved under glass. It was our own take on From Here To Eternity, and we savored it like fine wine.
Those of you familiar with the night time beaches of Florida will, perhaps, already know our folly. Wifefish and I lived on in blissful ignorance, though, returning to the cottage to finally rest our heads on soft pillows and drift into the sleep of the sated, cuddling each other fiercely enough to say a thousand “I love you’s” without words.
Morning came. A last trip to the beach yielded an amazing sight, as the lapping waves of the receding tide had deposited a 2 foot high mound of shells for us to pick through. I still have most of those shells. I paid no attention to the occasional itch on each side of my rib cage, thinking nothing of the mild discomfort. Perhaps I’d had too much sun.
This is the moment, had I been in a horror film, where the audience would start screaming “You FOOL!” at the screen. Remember that word “mostly”? This is the part where it bears impact on the story.
We drove to Orlando, ready to enjoy the rest of our honeymoon. Something was terribly wrong, though. The itching had not stopped, it had grown worse. By the time we’d finished dinner, I felt like eighty five tiny leprechauns had crawled into my shirt with crème broulee torches to make Danger Boy Flambe.
Returning to the room, I pulled up my shirt to reveal two stripes on either side of my torso, a plethora of red, angry bumps. We counted eighty-seven. I chewed on my knuckle to keep from scratching.
There is, in the south, a creature named the No-See-Um. It is aptly named. You have no idea these little bastards are around, until it is far, far too late. And woe betide you should you take an evening romp without the industrial grade deep woods Off! with extra DEET and uranium-235, for you shall surely pay the price in becoming that most woeful of comic book characters, The Walking Itch.
A frenzied trip to the local drug store ensued immediately. Calamine was purchased. Oatmeal bath was purchased. Benadryl and Ibuprofen rounded out the buying frenzy, and we raced back to the room.
I slept that night in the bathtub, the oatmeal soothing the itch enough for me to close my eyes at least for a while. At 2 am, I rose and drained the tub, attempting to return to the bed. At 2:15, the second oatmeal bath was run, the water as hot as I could stand it. I did my best not to resent Wifefish’s mere handful of bites. You only get one honeymoon, after all.
Relief was unobtainable, but I gamely grunted through a day at Sea World, loaded up on pain relievers and antihistamines. I swear, the dolphins were laughing at me as I struggled to keep my hands in my pockets and off of my battle-scarred sides, where late the No-See-Ums had drunk deeply of my blood, like Dracula on a three-day bender. The penguins cavorted, taunting me with their freedom of movement; my every step was agony.
I struggled to keep from becoming Mr. Grumpass. I don’t know if I succeeded, but the honeymoon wasn’t ruined. That’s either a testament to my iron will or Wifefish’s capacity for forgiveness, and I’m guessing the tallymark there goes to column B.
The fortunate end of this story is that between the oatmeal, the calamine lotion, pain reliever and antihistamine, combined with beer and the newlywed euphoria of our honeymoon, I only had one sleepless night. Day two post-attack was much easier to deal with, and by day three I was only scratching in public once every 10 minutes, almost normal for a human male. The honeymoon was saved, the marriage still goes strong, and if I ever have Sex On The Beach again, it will likely be made with Vodka and Peach Schnapps.
Or bug spray. Lots and lots of bug spray.
Well, that’s my contribution to the Jumble Mash Is Busy Foundation, and I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to stop on by at Dangerous Leanings, we try to have as much fun there as y’all do here. (See Jumble, I used one of your native West Virginia words!)
Note from Tress: Ya'll go on over and check out Danger Boy :)