I couldn’t wait until I turned sixteen. All kids imagine getting their driver’s license and then speeding off into the sunset. Well, not speeding, but being able to go someplace without Dad behind the wheel was a thrilling aspect of sixteenship. (I made up that word. I like it). But, that was not the reason I could not wait to get my driver’s license.
You see, once upon a time, I was just a skinny little thing. I wasn’t just thin and tiny. I was anorexic, “Oh my God, look at that girl!” skinny skinny. I had no muscle. I was a freaking stick. And although I curse myself now for hating how I looked back then, it truly was a sad sight. I just could not gain weight. Now, I know you are wondering what that has to do with driving for the very first time, but it has everything to do with turning sixteen, being skinny, and getting behind the wheel.
I totally understand the plight of overweight children even though I was on the other side. I got made fun of for being skinny.
“Hey, I heard you were absent from school today……You must have been standing sideways when they took roll.”
“Hey, I bet you can really sing since you have those canary legs and all.”
“You’re so skinny, I bet you hula hoop with a Life Saver.”
When I switched schools and went to Edgewood for fourth grade, I went home crying the first day because someone called me “Stick.” I finally told him to leave me alone…..and then hastily added, “Leave me alone! I just got out of a concentration camp.” Ok, I realize that was stretching the truth a little too far, but my last name was Mendenhall, a Germanish name, and I just got to that school. It was feasible, especially when the goof ball head who called me names had no idea what the three ships Columbus sailed on to discover America. Everyone knew that, so I knew he was dumb as a…….stupid head….. He had no grain in his silo…His sewing machine was out of thread…… He wouldn’t even know what a concentration camp was.
So, I had to endure years of being made fun of for being skinny. So, I ate. I ate all the time, trying to gain weight. But, I guess when you are a true hyperactive child, that grows up with you for a few years. I was very active and my metabolism was not my friend. I could not gain weight. When I was in high school, I would get up earlier and fry two frozen hamburger patties before the bus came to pick me up in the morning. It still didn’t work. It finally dawned on me after a very interesting lesson in Science class what was wrong with me. I kept my thoughts to myself.
So, when the big day came and I passed my driver’s test, I also made a secret appointment with Dr. Harper. Dr. Harper was my family doctor. I had been out there so many times, I could drive to his office blindfolded. Well, ok, that would have been bad. But, I had history with this man and trusted him. I had bad kidneys when I was little, so I was always peeing in a damn cup for him. He would tell me to be glad I was so thin. But, now that I KNEW what was wrong with me, he would be able to help me. I couldn’t wait to go to his office and tell him what I learned in Science class.
Lexie, who lived down the street and was a mom of one of my friends and a good friend of my moms, worked for Dr. Harper, so I lied when I made the appointment and said it was for a regular checkup.
“Hi, Lexie. My mom told me to call to make an appointment for my regular checkup….. She’s downstairs sewing.” She gave me a date that was about two weeks away. Shit. That wasn’t acceptable. I HAD to be seen earlier.
“Is there any way I can come tomorrow after school?…..Um….. My pee is dark and my back hurts.” I knew that would work.
So, I asked my mom if I could use the car after school to drive by myself. “I just need to drive to get used to driving by myself.” I didn’t need to tell her. She would just roll her eyes and tell me I was being dramatic….once again. No, this was top top secret.
I couldn’t wait until I got home from school the next day. I got the keys to my mom’s boat, a gold Cadillac that was a mile long, and drove out to Dr. Harper’s office. There was only one person in the waiting room. I smiled at Lexie and sat down.
Dr. Harper was a pretty nice guy. I was handed a cup and thought that I should probably go pee in it since I was there. It really was close to my regular checkup time anyways. I sat down and took off my clothes and put on the white gown. I always rushed this part because I didn’t want him walking in and seeing me half dressed. He did rap on the door like three times and then entered, not waiting for a “oh hell, not yet.” He sat down, took his chart, read some stuff.
“So, Vickie, your back is hurting. Have you been drinking a lot of water like you are supposed to?”
“I’m drinking a lot of water.” I was going to come right out and tell him why I thought I wasn’t gaining weight, but at the last minute thought I would just bring it up nonchalantly while he was checking the lymph nodes in my neck like he always did during a checkup. “I think my back is hurting because it is almost that time of the month….but I’m not sure.” And then I continued….nonchalantly, of course.
“So, Dr. Harper……I was wondering if you could take an x- ray or check to see…….if I have a…… tapeworm. I think that’s why I’m not gaining weight.” There, I said it. I have a tapeworm crawling around, eating all the stuff that comes down into my stomach. I was sure of it.
Dr. Harper stopped pushing on my neck with his hands and sat back, looking at me. He then started to laugh. I had never really heard him laugh before. What the hell? Why are you laughing at me? I was pissed.
“Vickie, you do not have a tapeworm. You are thin because that’s just how you are built. You will gain weight when you gain weight.”
I just looked at him. I was ready to burst into tears, but I had to get out of his office first. I was also ready to kick him. How dare he laugh at me when I had a freaking tapeworm crawling around inside of me and he wouldn’t even check it out.
“I learned in Science class that if you eat beef or pork, there is a chance that a tapeworm larva could be mixed in with the cow meat and if you swallow it, the tapeworm can grow to be 12 feet long. I eat hamburger almost every day. I really think I have a tapeworm.”
12 feet of worm action in my stomach
He just wouldn’t quit smiling. Dumb ass. It was possible. I learned a tapeworm could live for years in your body and you wouldn’t even know it:
Tapeworms Symptoms ( Source:webmd.com)
Sometimes tapeworms cause signs and symptoms such as:
- abdominal pain
- hunger or loss of appetite
- weight loss
- vitamin and mineral deficiencies
However, often having tapeworms does not cause symptoms. The only sign of tapeworm infection may be segments of the worms, possibly moving, in a bowel movement.
Treatment for Tapeworms
If you suspect you have tapeworms, you should see your doctor. Because there are different types of worms and tapeworms that can infect people, diagnosing a tapeworm infection may require a stool sample to identify the type of worm.
Ok, see? If you suspect you have tapeworms, you should see your doctor.
I saw my doctor and my doctor laughed at me.
I cried all the way home. My mom asked me what happened and I told her the truth, which surprised me, because I rarely told the truth. She knew damn well not to even crack a smile. And this time she didn’t use the word dramatic or anything. I hugged her for being so understanding. She told me she would see if there was a pill I could take for a “just in case you do have a tapeworm” scenario. That made me feel better. Who knew that my mom would side with me on anything.
Later that night, as I went to bed, I got right back out, wondering where my dog Cricket was, and heard my mom on the phone. She was talking to Lexie. Cricket was on my dad’s lap on the couch.
“It took everything I had not to laugh in her face, Lexie…….”
That’s all I cared to hear. They were all laughing at me. Fine. Laugh at me.
Since I am all about revenge, I decided to get back at my mom. Big time. That weekend, I chewed a bunch of gum and started rolling it between my fingers to make it long and thin. It did look like a pinkish worm. I even poked two little eyes and then put it in the toilet. I put a piece of toilet paper in there to make it look authentic. I wished I could have waited until I could have added something else, but revenge doesn’t wait for a sixteen year old. I yelled for my mom.
When my mom arrived in hallway, I just pointed to the toilet. She walked over and looked in the toilet.
“Mom, I told you I had worms!!!”
My mom had her bifocals down on her nose. I thought they were going to fall down into the toilet and join Timmy the Tapeworm. My mom then looked up at me.
“I almost fell for this one, Vickie. Next time, don’t put a smile on the worm’s face……get it out of the toilet, wash your hands, and come wash the dishes.”
Years later, the weight did catch up to me. I often think about the tapeworm story. Now, I wonder where the hell I can buy one.
Enjoy this story? Jumping in Mud Puddles is now an ebook that you can download on your Kindle. Don’t have a Kindle? No problem. Amazon will let you download their Kindle app FREE…Yes, free. Have a look see. My literary debut….. Amazon.com for $3.99. It’s sort of funny.
Jumping in Mud Puddles: A Memoir of a Picky, Hyper,
Big Fat Liar