Back in April 1993, when I was a freshman at the University of Oregon, I finally had my bout of chicken pox. Yes, I took until age 19 to get it. (My older brother T.J. had gotten it while I was gestating, and Mom had hoped that that would've been enough exposure for me not to get it. It wasn't. Before that, I think my dad as a kid managed to get chicken pox twice. That, I'm sure, was worse...) Of course I got quarantined, in a corner suite of my dorm complex that had its own bathroom, and of course I had pox-immune people bring me food, and thank goodness I had my little black-and-white TV so I could watch stuff and have one more line of defense against getting bored out of my gourd. THAT was an...interesting week, one thankfully undocumented by photographic proof of how bad I looked and how wretched I felt. (On top of that, the morning of the day I got diagnosed and quarantined, when I was walking alone around campus feeling miserable and waiting for Student Health to open, what was on the front page of newspapers? The torching of the Branch Davidian compound, news which I'd been completely oblivious to. Not the news to learn while sick.) All that, of course, isn't the secret shame.
I'm really bad at acknowledging that I'm really sick. I tend to fight the thought that I'm coming down with anything. And during the weekend leading up to my getting diagnosed with chicken pox, I just told myself I was run down and I should take it easy. (By the night before I got quarantined, when freakin' bumps were erupting on my scalp, I knew that that, um, hadn't been enough.)
The Saturday before, I decided "taking it easy" meant taking myself to a movie.
What did I go see while unknowingly contagious with chicken pox? A kids' film. The Sandlot.
I kept expecting a news report that an outbreak of chicken pox had been traced to a Saturday, April 17th, 1993, showing of The Sandlot at Gateway Mall in Springfield, Oregon.
(This is not an entirely secret shame, my title hyperbole notwithstanding. Years later I mentioned it to my baseball-loving editor Michael J. Kane. His only response: "That was a good movie.")