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A reminiscence: was I Patient Zero?!

Being sick's been on my mind. This cold is hanging on raggedly, and I think I'm almost healed from it, but I'm still not 100%. (I had an impressive run of more than 10 sneezes in a row this morning while still in bed; I consider it a small victory that I've only sneezed once since.) But I still had an errand today, to get my driver's license renewed, and I felt OK enough to get out (treating myself first to breakfast at Tik Tok, only a few blocks from the Powell Blvd. DMV I can walk to), do that, and walk home, where I've been relaxing again.

This, relatively speaking, is nothing: I've been plenty sicker. One of the times I was, I managed to get chicken pox during spring of my first year in college. There are more miserable times to have chicken pox, but chicken pox at age 19 is way up there on the misery scale: the older you are, generally, the harder the illness hits you.

The weekend before I got diagnosed, I felt lousy, but still had stuff to do. I did it, with less energy but still doing it. And then I treated myself to a film. At a mall. Gateway Mall in Springfield, OR, right next door to Eugene.

And I saw a kid's film. The Sandlot, a comedy about kids in the Sixties playing sandlot baseball and losing their ball to the comically huge dog next door owned by ornery James Earl Jones.

Pox-Infected Me had sat for nearly two hours surrounded by kids.

Early the next week, when I was so miserable I finally checked at Student Health and found that, yep, I had that disease, I got quarantined on the northern end of Bean Complex, where I lived, and dealt with my body trying to get that pox out of it. And I worried that I'd exposed all those kids to my sickness, and that there'd be a news report tracing a chicken pox outbreak to a matinee. There's a good chance I infected some kid, in those days before the chicken pox vaccine. If I did, I'm sorry.

Years later, I told this anecdote to Mike Kane, my editor at the newspaper The Hermiston Herald. The only, ONLY, thing he said: "...man, that was a good movie." Yeah, man, it wasn't YOUR KIDS in that screening room with me!