One summer, long before The Plaintiff had become The Plaintiff, she had planned a vacation trip for the entire family. We would motor across the northern tier of states, camping each night in the pop up camper she would rent, and we would see Mount Rushmore, and The Dakota Badlands, among other sights along the way.
Our tow vehicle was to be her station wagon, and we did not have functioning air conditioning in this vehicle. When you plan a trip across Minnesota, and all the way across North Dakota in August, that turns out to be a bit of a problem. It was hot that summer, mighty f#¢&ing hot, to be more precise, and we all sweated abundantly en route.
Now our children, offspring of two nurses, were thoroughly steeped in Nursing Lore. Relevant to this tale, is the old Med School story of the lecturer who was teaching about clinical assessment. He harangued the students about the necessity of being observant, because your clinical assessment will be flawed should you miss some tiny, but important, detail.
So this instructor produced a vial of yellow fluid, urine as he identified it, and noted that physicians in pre industrial societies used to assess for diabetes by seeking the taste of sugar in urine. So saying, he inserted a finger into the vial, and, once had extracted a finger from his mouth, announced, “This person is a diabetic!”
“Now, all of you try it!”
Being college students, each dipped their finger into the fluid, and, tasting it, were repulsed at the idea of tasting urine.
Once the vial had returned to the instructor’s desk, he asked the assembled scholars: “How many of you noticed that I dipped my INDEX finger into the vial, but tasted MY MIDDLE FINGER?”
My children had all heard this story several times. This factors into the following narrative.
Our youngest son, who we shall refer to as David, was all of perhaps 4 years old. As is common with children about that age, when on a journey, he simply HAD to stop, and collect more patches for his Tour Of America’s Bathrooms patch vest. At least, things had that appearance, for every time we passed a restroom, around 2 minutes later David would inform everybody in the vehicle that “I gotta PEEEE!!!”, accompanied with his version of the interpretive dance known worldwide as The Potty Dance.
This had become just a bit tedious. I had sought to resolve my fluid deficit (and fatigue from sleeping poorly in a bed not my own) by drinking Mountain Dew. My container of choice was the (at that time) wide mouthed one liter bottles. Now, conveniently enough, once emptied, these could serve as unit dose, single use, preschooler urinals. I would save my empties, and, once David shared with us The Song of His People (“I gotta PEEEE!!!”), well, the To Be Plaintiff would pass him an empty Mountain Dew bottle, David would stand in the second seat, and whizz away, into the bottle. His mother would (securely!) recap it, and that bottle would join the rest of our trash at the next stop.
So, TINS©, there I was, driving cross country and saving lives…er, well, we had stopped this one time, and everybody had trooped off to the bathrooms, while I gassed up the vehicle, and replenished my store of Mountain Dew, and water. Once everybody was seated in their seats, I reached for the (dew dropped, fresh-from-the-store’s-cooler) bottle of Mountain Dew resting in the console, and set about taking a cold refreshing swig.
My oldest two children, who had not been there when I had discarded David’s latest urinal, began to protest, and yell, and sound the alarm, thinking I was about to take a refreshing swig of child pee.
I, of course, had discarded the empty bottle and replaced it with a fresh cold bottle of soda. I tipped it up, savored it, and swallowed. The kids “Uch!”-ed and “Eww!”-ed their disgust. I smacked my lips, and turned to their mother, and remarked, “Hmm! Sweet! Looks like David’s a diabetic!”
So, fast forward a couple of years. David was part of the cat-rodeo that is kindergarten round up, as the school district assesses each prospective kindergartner for readiness for school. One nice young woman, earnest as only a new grad teacher can be, was interviewing his mother and me about myriad things, and came to the questions about medical history.
“So, does David have any medical history?”
The Plaintiff looked at me, and I looked at her, we shrugged. I replied, “No, he’s pretty healthy.”
David’s older brother began to furiously tug at my sleeve, singing the Recessional Song of children everywhere: “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!…”
“Dave’s a diabetic!”
Well, THAT ignited a minor firestorm of interrogatories, as the poor puzzled teacher could not understand how we could deny that our darling child had diabetes, a fact plainly clear to his sibling, and how we could be so placid in the face of such a life changing diagnosis.
The Plaintiff had to explain her husband’s sense of “humor” to this poor woman, and how the foregoing had become enshrined in family legend.
I’m not entirely convinced that she understood the backstory, although she appeared somewhat mollified after The Plaintiff had spun her tale of the burdens of being married to The Stretcher Ape.