What happens if you step off the beaten path

by singlemomseeking on February 25, 2008

poison-oak.gifI wasn’t going to write about Him in my blog because I’d already promised him that I wouldn’t.

But I can’t hold it in anymore.

I’ve never gone this long without blogging. Granted, I was in New York City last week, riding the subway up and down Manhattan with M, as well as meeting my go-getting’ new agent, the infamous Trey Ellis (and I mean that in the best, most honorable way) and my spunky LifetimeTV editor.

But here’s where I fess up: I actually had a date on Valentine’s Day. Really. I’d gone out with this Biologist once before, and it was just what you’d hope for in a first date: comfortable, fun, open, genuine, flirty. When I told him about my book, he didn’t seem intimidated.

The problem? The Biologist lives far away. I’m talking over an hour and a half away — without traffic. I just couldn’t fathom driving three hours round-trip, having a date, and driving back home. Granted, he could do all the driving… but that seems like a lot to ask.

Just before Valentine’s Day, however, he called me out of the blue and said, “I heard that you don’t have a date for Valentine’s Day–”

Me: “How did you hear that?”

Him: “Well, I got curious—”

Me: “You read my blog?”

Him: “I know all about the Postman.”

Me: “No!”

Him: “It’s okay, it doesn’t bother me… So, would you like to go out for Valentines Day?”

I was honey. We planned to go on a hike in the local national park. M had the flu for 5 days that week and it was my first time out of the house (thanks to Grandpa for coming over for a few hours!). The Biologist brought his binoculars and bird book; it was touching.

At one point, he wanted to look for a salamander. There had just been a big rain, and he was sure that he could find one under a log. No luck. Then he saw a big log off the trail. I told him that I never go off-trail because of poison oak. I used to get it really badly as a kid. Also, after a big rain, I could only imagine how potent the poison might be.

He said, “There’s no poison oak. It’s just blackberry bushes.”

I hesitated. He’s the expert, after all. (Sure, it was my choice to step off the beaten path. But as one of my guy friends pointed out, No Means No. FYI, we didn’t find any salamanders, either.)

I started itching that night. By the time M and I boarded the plane, my left arm was covered in red bumps. My friends with whom we stayed in Manhattan were angels. They ran out for me to buy gauze and Cortaid. As the days passed, I went through another bottle of Calamine. I thought I’d be okay, but it was getting bright red and swollen. M wanted to help me put more gauze on before we went outside, as her 8-year-old friend shrieked out of disgust. Sorry to get gross on you, but when it started to get pussy, I knew I was in trouble.

Last night, back in California, my entire left arm swelled up. At 4 a.m., I couldn’t move my fingers. It was scary. I knew this meant infection. I tried to hide my fear from M, but she caught me crying this morning into the phone with the doctor.

“Are you going to be okay, Mommy?”

“Yes, honey.”

But I wasn’t sure, until the doctor told me so. Yes, my poison oak had gotten infected. I’m on steroids for the first time in my life, along with antibiotics four times a day. At least the swelling is down so I can type.

In the meantime, I emailed the Biologist — and also left him a message — to let him know what happened. He has apologized profusely on my voice mail.

I haven’t called him back. I can’t say that I’m feeling very fond of him right now.

Please tell me: If this happened to you, would you muster up every bit of forgiveness and go on another date?… Or walk the other way?

Image from California Poison Action Line, whom I called to ask if I should go to a doctor.

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