What About This? By Wayne William Cipriano

BANISHED! The Guestroom is a lonely, lonely place at night. And, like all guys, I didn’t do anything to deserve such banishment. It is all about poison ivy.

Some people just do not get poison ivy. Immune? Who can say? But they just don’t seem to get it. My Father tells a story of how, when he was a kid, all his running buddies came down with poison ivy, but he did not. He came to “understand” that he was actually immune to it. And when someone pointed out some poison ivy growing nearby and warned him against approaching it, my Dad walked right into it and rubbed it all over, just to demonstrate his immunity. He came down with the worst, most debilitating case of poison ivy ever recorded in human history – at least to hear him tell it.

Maybe he was previously just lucky and never came into contact with it, maybe he had a higher tolerance to the plant than most, but he was not, by any means, immune to the corrosive oil of the plant in sufficient quantity.

Unlike my Dad, most people have varying degrees of susceptibility to poison ivy, get it in vaying degrees of intensity, some lightly, some much more seriously. And then there is Rosalie.

Rosalie can catch poison ivy if she merely walks by it, even if she does not come into actual contact with the plant. She can catch poison ivy if she sees somone suffering from it. She can catch poison ivy if she sees a picture of the plant in a magazine. She may even come down with symptoms of poison ivy if someone says, “poison ivy” in her presence. Hypersensitivity? Psychosomagical? Call it what you will. Rosalie will not abide poison ivy. Period.

So, when I casually mentioned that I thought I had a tiny spot of poison ivy on my lower left calf, true or not, that is all it took for the Guestroom to be made up for me.

It made absolutely no difference that I had showered deluxe several times, using soap and brush on the affected area and all areas nearby. No one cared when I explained, with the added authory of Extension Office brochures (which Rosalie would not touch), that poison ivy rash is transmitted by contact with the plant’s corrosive oil, not by contact with a rash sufferer once the corrosive oil has been removed (nor by seing a picture in a book, seeing someone who has it, hearing about a bad case down the road, hearing “poison ivy”). It made no difference to Rosalie at all. There is a happy life with Rosalie and there is poison ivy. There is no intersection of the two concepts.

So, banished I have been each night to the Guestroom. Even after the little blister-like bumps were long gone, even after the rash had completely faded, I remained outcast. Being very closely examined each day by Rosalie (which I kind of liked) would not exonerate me until no skin discoloration, no lump, no anything was discovered. And, even then, an extra day (night) was required because “you never know for sure.”

I moved around the ranch so carefully, avoiding even the slightest abrasion that could be confused with poison ivy rash, that very little got done. But, finally, with unblemished skin that any cosmetic model would envy, I was pronounced poison ivy free.

And then I got a #%@#$#@ mosquito bite!