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I hate missing the bus

I missed the bus today. I wanted to wear a shirt that needed ironing, but I started the ironing late. I rushed out of the house with my shirt untucked, unbuttoned and ran down the street: I had three minutes to get around the corner and down the block. I was halfway across Ralston creek when I saw the bus pull around the corner and drive away. I’ve missed a lot of buses, and every time there’s a little twinge of the first:

When I was a kid, Flinstones and other multivitamins were anathema in my house. Mom was never one to believe in simplicity and perhaps also she doubted that 100% of your RDA for both B-Complex and C and E could be smashed into one Dino or BamBam. Make vitamins chewable? Only if you’re lucky, mister. Mom bought each vitamin separately, and she usually picked the biggest pills she could find. To get big pills down little throats, she would chop them in half. Jagged edges go down better, I suppose.

One morning in first grade I remember vividly. Before I could leave for the bus, I had to take my vitamins. This was a ritual that she presided over like it was the eucharist: my soul depended on those pills going down, and if they didn’t, then they indicated some great fault of my own, or maybe of her poor showing as a parent: God forbid that she should raise a stubborn or ornery boy!

But that day the pills wouldn’t go down. I’d get one horse pill halfway in my throat, then an edge would catch on a tonsil and I’d gag until it came back. “Swallow it,” she said, so I’d try again until it descended, but then I had the other half to look forward to. Hours it seemed this went on. Swallow, gag, cough, swallow again. I was frustrated and angry by the time it was done. And I was late. I ran out the door and down the hill, a quarter-mile to catch a bus that was already pulling away by the time I stepped out the door. I ran so hard I tripped. I skidded face-first on the gravel and now had to turn around and ask that tyrant to drive me to school.

Fortunately, today I had no tyrant to ask to take me to work. I just took the car.



Oooh look at you now and your borgeois problems, “Boohoo I missed the bus on the way to a job for which I have to wear an ironed shirt!”

I had to take those huge vitamins when I was a kid, too. In kindergarten my mother, at her wits end, tried crunching them up and freezing them into an awful-tasting popsicle. I railed at her indignantly until my Dad joined in and started ridiculing her for coming up with the idea. She retreated into hurt silence, then I started to feel sorry for her, and angry at my dad.

So how much do I owe you for the therapy session?

I think you paid with the popsicle. What an awful idea.

So, did they do it because the benefit of the vitamin outweighed the pain and struggle of forcing it down our throats? What of the fact that they were so difficult to swallow? Do moms lose all sense of perspective and forget that large objects don’t slip as well down narrow tubes?

It was indeed awful, and an awful idea, even for my mother, who has always been a bit spacy. Like I said, she was (literally) at her wit’s end.

It may be a corollary of the Things That Are Unpleasant Are Good For You doctrine, so yeah, I think you’re basically right. Now, have you ever tried getting a dog to swallow a pill?

Yeah—dogs are hard, although if you put it in their food, they’ll usually just suck it up, oblivious to everything. Cats, though! You have to shove that sucker down the gullet as far as you can then leave your finger in their mouth a good five seconds so they don’t have any choice but to swallow. Little buggers…

Cats…I never even dreamed it possible. It’s amazing how pets will so quickly forgive what they can see only as a very unpleasant, unprovoked assault. They may fight like crazy, but once it goes down all is forgotten. We, however, are blogging about it decades later.

with labs you just convince them that it’s a treat…

do you want a treat?... who wants a treat?

it’s much like getting people to read augustine… :)

that flintstones are #1 recommended by french speaking pediatricians had no sway over her?

Francophone pediatricians weren’t very influential in central Arkansas in the early 1980s. Surely their sway over southern moms has increased since.

J, I’m working on it, almost caught up to chapter 8. Life has been surprisingly hectic lately. A lot of errands, a lot of earning daily bread by manual labor, a lot of administrative tedium. I have read your post and do intend to comment one of these days.

Re: 5, I was about to say that memory was the reason for our dredging up stories of pills broken and choked down, but that’s too simple. Our cats have no lack of memory: ever since the tornado, they both loathe storms. One blew through last night and Jane slunk under the covers with us. (She has 3 safe places in our apartment: behind the futon, behind the stove, and under the covers.) So it’s not that they don’t have strong memories but that they have a stronger sense than most of us of who opens their cans of tuna fish, who tosses them marinated carrots, and who scratches their ears. Moreover, they remain uncorrupted by arguments of individuality and expressed selfhood.

I was afraid as I got to the end of G’s post that I was going to be the sleeping tyrant, too scary to be awakened for driving…

Thanks to these stories, I now have a new-found appreciation for my mother. While she may have pulled my hair mercilessly in a few fits of rage when I was a child, she also mercifully settled for the chewable Flintstones. But then again, she was never much of a health nut; I’m sure Fred and Wilma didn’t do much to counteract the steady diet of Pepsi and Reese’s peanut butter cups I was on.

(I know better than to draw that comparison…)

pay me no mind…
i just like to whine

I never took vitamins as a child (or at any other time, for that matter), but in the years before I could swallow pills, I took my asthma medicine dissolved in yogurt, which was the only thing that would cover the taste. At the time, I only liked vanilla and lemon yogurt (and coffee, when I was allowed—basically only yogurt without pieces in it), and I ate a small dish of each every morning and every night for over a year.

At some point my grandmother was visiting us, and she made a deal with me: for as long as it took me to take my pills, she would read aloud from subject matter of her choice (usually one of the dryer bits of the Wall Street Journal, and occasionally a few paragraphs of the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica). When I finished, I got to read her one joke from my awful joke book.

that is a great! story