Aye, here’s the rub

“I don’t have pink eye. It’s for my son.” Pharmacists must get this a lot, I think to myself.

I was using today as a personal health day. Meaning, I needed to pick up a prescription, stock up on a few items for the medicine cabinet and deal with whatever crawled into my eye during the night. So here I was at the Shoppers on Bayview, with the pharmacist fixated on my giant, crimson, shiny lid.

“Are you sure that’s pink eye? I mean…that your son has pink eye?” she corrected herself.

Poor kid, I thought, I’ve used him as a foil for everything from bloat to plantar warts. My tinge of guilt receded as she gave me what I needed. Then I deflected, “Do you have any natural or non-toxic sunscreen? This one is for me, not my son.”

“We do. …it’s more of a barrier, though.”

“Like zinc-based?” pretending to know my sunblocks.

“Yeah, that’s it.”

“I’ve used that stuff,” I said. “It makes you look like a vampire. I’ve had people ask me if I’m ill.”

“You have to really rub it in,” she replied.

“It never rubs in. What about something that won’t make children cry when they look at me?”

“No, just this,” she shrugged. “Try rubbing it in more.”

“On another note, this itching is driving me crazy,” I shot back.

“Excuse me?”

Never mind, I think, “inside” joke.

I headed out of Shoppers with my various lotions and potions. Next stop: Pace Compounding on Laird, to pick up a prescription I had phoned in earlier. On the walk over, I could feel mild anxiety building. For me, picking up a prescription ranks right up there on the joy-o-meter with “the cough” at my yearly physical. It’s a private moment in one of the most public of forums. Pace is no ordinary pharmacy, though. It’s a modern, high-tech apothecary, its walls lined with everything I’ll loot in our dystopian future. They even have some old-timey “medicines” on display. Kidney pills. Dilaudid. Strychnine. And other ingredients used for everything from dyspepsia to offing rival suitors in Victorian era literature.

“Can I help you?” the pharmacist too-loudly asks me.

“I’m here to pick up a prescription.” I launch into autopilot, spelling my last name, “C-R-I-C-H-….”

“Hmmm. What was it for?”

Great, just what I dreaded. “You mean what is it?”

“Umm. Sure.”

“Mumble-whisper-mumble,” I reply.

“I’m sorry, what was that?”

I lean over closer, like a shady, one-armed street merchant with an open overcoat full of counterfeit watches. Trying to look louder, without being louder, I repeat myself, “MUMBLE. WHISPER. MUMBLE.”

“Found it! Have you ever used this before?”

“Yep. All good.” Please let this end, I’m thinking.

“Really? From here?”

Busted. “Oh wait…no, I haven’t.” I could now feel my heartbeat in my eyelid. I imagined what I looked like; all hunched over, mumble-whispering, with an eye that looked like a raw chicken heart. I am not an animal! I’m a man!

“You have to really rub it in, so it gets to the problem.”

Again, with the rubbing. I wondered if that strychnine still had some potency. I could really use a swig right about now. “Got it. Thanks.”

“Be sure to wash your hands, after. And don’t touch your eyes with it.”

Of course. Because it’s plain to see I’m a dirty-fingered eye-toucher.

An hour later I’m finally back home. Mentally drained from my “personal health day,” I open the door to my son, looming over me. He immediately recoils, “Hey, Daaaa…whoa, your EYE.”

“Pink eye! Courtesy of you, no doubt!” My guilt was gone. Replaced by close-range-shotgun-take-no-prisoners-blame. Hurriedly brushing past him to perform ocular triage, I could hear his teenage snark follow me up the stairs, “Are you sure that’s pink eye?

This article was Guest Contributed by David Crichton.