Ah…Dad and a little case of ‘chicken pox’…
Now Papa G, my Dad is very slightly and very wonderfully eccentric and insane. We all love him for it of course. He’s constantly inappropriate and embarrassing and since forever has been the reason most of my friends hung out with me-to laugh at Papa G. This is the story of his supposed bout of Chicken Pox.
Poor baby O recently got a double whammy of gastroenteritis and chicken pox. Little lamb. These things are inevitable and help build the immune system I know, but as he’s under 1 he doesn’t have full immunity so is likely to get it again. Oh well.
The little one was in good spirits despite 2 weeks of not very nice goings on we won’t go into. He caught the viruses whiles we were visiting the Big Fat and very Greek family which was good timing in a way as my Mum was on hand to help the hubby and I care for O and then each other, as we all took it in turns to get the gastric bug ourselves. Luckily we were all immune to chicken pox. Or were we?
So Papa G spent the day looking after poorly Oliver (who at this stage only had the gastric bug and no sign of the pox) as I helped Mum run some errands. That night Dad went to bed unusually early complaining of exhaustion. O can do that to you sometimes, so we thought nothing of it. However, the following morning when O woke up with red spots all over his face, so did Dad.
Running towards me Papa started shouting (everyone in my family shouts at one another, it’s their way of talking)- “I’ve got chicken pox, I can’t believe I’ve got chicken pox too”. He seemed quite panicked. He’s a man after all, they can’t handle being ill.” Dad you’re 62″, I reasoned, “you must have had them by now”. “I can’t remember, let me ring my mother”. Yaya (Granny) is 93 years old and quite frankly the most intelligent woman I know, she has all her marbles and then some, but surely even she wouldn’t remember that.
So off he went to the pharmacist then 10 minutes later back at home, he looked in the mirror and prodded at his face. “Ach, look, I’ve rubbed my face and the spots have gone now, must be the way I slept”. Right Dad, maybe check that before you announce you have shingles to the world.
Later that day we were advised by NHS direct to take little O to A and E, to get a thorough examination and definite diagnosis for chicken pox. There the baby was given a once over and various prescriptions to help his ailments. I worriedly inquired about preganant friends we’d been in contact with during O’s incubation period . The doc assured me that as long as the women had chicken pox as a child, their unborn baby would be safe. Phew!
All ready to go, coats on etc-and here we have another example of Dad’s madness: he suddenly perks up and asks the pediatrician if he, Papa G might have chicken pox/shingles (at this point he had no spots or even sleep spots to show for himself)-the doc mumbled he deals with babies so wasn’t really in a position to advise…..yada yada yada… Dad wasn’t listening as usual and blatantly interrupted, ” You see doctor, I’m really very worried. Please tell me- if I have these ‘shingles’ will it affect you know (trying not to point), my reproductive organs”. I KID YOU NOT. Those exact words. ‘His reproductive organs’. In broad daylight and in front of the registrar and another doctor. The Hubby and I were slowly dying of embarrassment. Good job we were in A and E.
Luckily the registrar was a nice fellow and clearly used to dealing with babies and children, he was well honed into immature folk and found it highly amusing. Patting Dad’s arm he assured him that at 62, he should be quite alright and not needing to worry about his potential to procreate. Dad breathed a sigh of relief. And I thought we were here for baby O.
And there my friends, the embarrassment sadly doesn’t end. A week or so later once O was better and no longer contagious ( with several pox scars on his face), the folks took me out for a birthday lunch at my favourite fish restaurant in Yorkshire.
It was a Tuesday afternoon and there were many aristocratic looking elderly ladies in pearls and pink cardies doing lunch that day. Think Joan Collins in 20 years time. Make that 30. One aforementioned lady easily 80 plus approaches our table as she leaves fawning over the little one, ” Oh what a darling baby, so sweet and well behaved”-she suddenly stops, “Oh those red things-look at that poor face”. Dad suddenly sits up straight, “Don’t worry, he’s not contagious. You’re not pregnant are you? He says this to an octogenarian. His idea of a joke. I repeat -an octogenarian- and he says this loudly enough for the whole restaurant to hear -to ‘the Queen’, or her sister or something.
Mum and I cringe at one another across the table, wishing our fish pies would swallow us up. Luckily ‘the Queen’ didn’t hear Papa G (here’s hoping for a hearing aid) and politely waved goodbye. Dad couldn’t understand why Mum had put a dent in his knee from kicking him under the table.
So what’s the moral of the story? To sellotape Papa G’s mouth. At all times. Forever.
The picture above is of Papa G doing what he loves-cooking and being embarrassing!
Photograph ©Vicki Psarias-Broadbent.