When I was young, the bugs liked me as much if not more than they do today. It was nothing to go through the summer covered in welts, with patches of orangey-pink calamine lotion slathered on and evening doses of Ben Gay ™ on the worst ones.
One particular summer stands out as the “bad” one when my bug bites started to swell into something worse – they became infected and turned into boils. At first my mother had a nurse friend come to lance the mini volcanos, but as the summer progressed and they kept coming, I was finally taken to a doctor.
Back then the word antibiotic was not on every three-year-old’s lips and every label throughout the grocery store. My mother was advised to buy Dial soap – the gold one. It was the only one of its kind. From that summer on I never used another soap until I was out of my parents’ house and make the reckless decision to buy a different kind.
Tonight I grabbed a washcloth from the pile I use to remove my makeup. You know, the ones I don’t care if I ruin with makeup stains. It was thread bare and I realized it was one that had been handed down from my mother sometime along the way. The combination of the worn washcloth, the summer breeze, and the night sounds coming in through the open window immediately took me back to gold Dial soap and camping with my parents.
I remember standing in a cold concrete shower stall in some campground in the middle of Estes Park in Colorado taking a shower in the middle of the night after a long day of traveling and an extended search for an open spot.
It was the summer we took the Chevy station wagon camping. Being an only child, I was designated the front seat, and my parents would sleep in the back which my mother had lovingly furnished with hand-sewn curtains while the rest of the camping supplies had been delegated a bear-friendly spot on the picnic table, covered with a tarp. Every day we would change campgrounds and each day became the unpacking and packing adventure of a lifetime. (This was also when I was exposed to my first taste of coffee. My mother had forgotten to bring cocoa for me, and in her infinite wisdom deemed it necessary to push hot coffee down my throat on these very chilly mountain mornings. Once. Uh. No. To this day I love the smell, but can’t stand the taste.)
There is no point to this story… Just a brief flashback to an 8-year-old standing in a cold concrete shower with a worn washcloth and a bar of gold Dial soap on a family camping trip. I wish I knew then what I know now.