In my second year at the University of Texas, one of my roommates (he’s also one of my best friends, so I’ll try to be delicate) somehow contracted some sort of skin ailment. It started with a few itchy bumps and then it quickly spread across his body. As group of college-aged guys, we, of course, thought this was a God sent joke for our own amusement. Sometimes, I would just sit and face him as he watched TV, just to giggle every time he scratched himself. In hindsight, I feel for the guy; I can’t imagine itching day and night.
When we were in college, no one in our apartment (and there were four of us) had any idea how to go to the doctor alone. I mean, directions, finding the right office, using insurance, paying a deductable, we weren’t college educated yet! Just like the rest of us, he was a mommas’ boy, too, and this mommas’-boy-itis prevented him from going to the doctor on his own. He had to wait until he went back to Houston for the weekend, so he could go to the doctor with his mom.
The first diagnosis was that he must be allergic to the fabric on our furniture. The furniture especially made sense because it was also the furniture that came with the apartment. When I reflect on the things WE did to those couches, it’s a wonder how many other people did the same, if not worse. His solution to this was to always sit in a dark green, plastic lawn chair. While we all sat around eating our cheap Totinos pizzas watching Dawson’s Creek on our comfy sofa, he sat in his cold, plastic posture-pedic chair constantly scratching – always scratching.
After a few weeks of trying out the chair, he realized it must not be the fabric that was causing his sleepless nights. The next time he went back to Houston, he and his mother went to another doctor. The second doctor diagnosed the problem as an allergic reaction to our cat, Solo. Everyone always assumes that his name derives from Han Solo of Star Wars fame. This is untrue. We actually named him after a drug dealer in our apartment building that lived just below us but above the grimiest strippers in Austin. The guy was a 5’4”, black dude and our pet was a black kitten, so we didn’t have a choice. Sometimes fate reveals knowledge so clearly that we cannot ignore it. Regardless, he should have considered it an homage (if he knew, which we took painstaking efforts to make sure he didn’t).
The cat issue was a problem because everyone loved the cat and didn’t want to have to get rid of it. Luckily, Christmas break came around and we all went back to our respective parents’ homes in Houston. My brother and I took Solo to our house. My friend had a whole month to be away from the cat. His skin didn’t get any better. At this point, the problem had been going on for 3 months. The bumps had now completely covered his body besides, luckily for him, his face. It had gotten so bad that even between his fingers had been hit by the problem. He rubbed his fingers raw by interlocking his fingers, straightening them, and moving them like little itching saws. The problem had reached an irritating crescendo that needed to be solved immediately, for his sanity was at stake.
Part II – Next time!