It’s been a quiet few days, and for that I apologise – but at least being out of action sick for a while has given me the inspiration for something to write about. Come with me now as I take you back in time to the first time in my life I can ever actually recall being ill.
The year was 1991…
I was six years-old and in the first grade, my whole life ahead of me. I enjoyed school, I had a lot of friends with whom I would hang out, while we’d play handball (I believe that’s foursquare to Americans – and we’d play it with a tennis ball not whatever giant crap you guys use) or footy or soccer or cricket or just generally run about like louts.
The Australian summer can be a hot time, but that didn’t seem to stop my generation of Australian kids from embracing the sun and heat (these days they’d probably be worried about the glare on their phone screens – God I sound like an old man). After heading over to the canteen and wolfing down a Raspberry ‘Split’ Ice cream to cool down we were off through the playground again.
The custom at my first primary school was to have a whole school afternoon assembly on whatever day of the week this fateful event happened. I can remember a lot of this tale but not on which day of the week it fell. Our American vice-Principal, whose name also escapes me, was addressing the crowd when I started to feel sick (mind you, there was no sitting, we all had to stand there, like the Army or something).
My first grade teacher came over to me and asked if I was OK, to which I replied that classic line; “I don’t feel so good”. She told me it would be over soon, but I didn’t even have time to wonder if she meant the feeling or the assembly.
I don’t doubt that I vomited in life before this moment, but it’s the first I can remember. I leaned straight over, unsure of what was happening, and a vividly pink, milky explosion burst forth from my glorious 6 year old mouth. I watched in amazement as the pink and white mess pooled on the concrete of the playground in which we were assembled, right next to one of the handball courts we’d used that very morning. It’s probably a good thing we were all standing because it gave people the chance to clear some room. Did it get on the back of anyone’s legs? I’m not sure.
This was in front of the whole school, kindergarten through to year 6. If I hadn’t made a name for myself before then, I certainly did after that moment – even if it was for being an Augustus Gloop-like character instead of being the awesome person I was – but you know what? It wasn’t so bad.
I got to go to the glorious air-conditioned heaven of the sick bay (it was 1991, I can tell you now that few rooms, if any, had air conditioners let alone ceiling fans, bloody kids, etc), and my mum picked me up early. I wasn’t even embarrassed! Ahh the innocence of youth.
I still go back to this primary school every time we have an election to cast my vote, and every time I do, I look at the exact spot my hot pink mess covered the floor. Assembly ended early that day, but 23 years later I know it’ll never leave my mind…