Beware the Ivy of March

barry currin, stories of a world gone mad, beaverdamusa.comIn my backyard sits an old bed sheet with a heaping pile of pulled weeds on it.

It’s been there for 9 days. It has endured a couple of rains and even a snow.

It needs to be dragged down by the road for the public works truck to pick up, but no one in my family is probably going near it any time soon.

This pile consists of last year’s dead day lilies, some blackberry stalks and various other weeds.

And somewhere in all those tangles lurks the meanest poison ivy vine the world has ever known.

Mother nature spent all winter breeding this weapon of mass destruction, and take a wild guess where she decided to test it out.

This new strain of killer weed must be invisible; neither Kim nor I ever saw it. On the other hand, we didn’t know we needed to be on the lookout for poison ivy during the first week of March.

We worked for a couple of hours. When I came in, I thoroughly rinsed my hands and arms. It felt so refreshing, I rinsed my face. I rubbed it thoroughly with my hands, then I rubbed it some more with a paper towel.

I didn’t realize I was saturating every square inch of my bare skin with poison ivy oil.

I’ve had poison ivy plenty times in my life. Always before, the symptoms were rows of little clear blisters on my arms or legs. They’re a temporary annoyance more than anything else — never a whole lot worse than mosquito bites.

Not this time.

It took two days after my run-in before the blisters started appearing on my arms. A day later, the rash broke out on my nose, cheek, chin and neck. That’s also when my eyes began to swell.

By the fourth day, my face looked like I had been sparring with Floyd Mayweather. My left eye was swollen to the point that I could see my own eyelid from the inside.

Both arms had several beet-colored, half-dollar-sized blotches.

Kim came away with some, too. She got it on her arms and even a little patch on her forehead. I rarely beat her at anything, but I won the poison ivy challenge in a runaway.

I finally gave in and sought professional help because calamine lotion was only making this stuff mad and more ornery.

The doctor sent me home with 14 days worth of pills, a $100 tube of ointment and a package of cookies.

The cookies, actually, were my idea. When one goes to the doctor, that person deserves a treat. For the record, it was a toss-up between Oreos and army men.

Naturally, I felt the need to explain myself to everyone I saw. More than once I sensed someone thinking, “Why won’t this hideous, one-eyed man stop talking to me?”

My face looks better now, but it’s not completely back to normal. My eye still itches. I don’t think the blotches on my arms will ever heal, even after one Benjamin Franklin amount of ointment.

Every time Kim tells the story to someone she says, “I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture. I should’ve taken a picture.” I’m a little concerned by how much she wanted to preserve the hideousness. 

Poison ivy isn’t contagious, which is the good news.

The bad news is, the oil from the plant stays on whatever it touches for a long time. I threw away my trusty White Mule gloves I’ve had for probably 30 years.

I used the nuclear holocaust setting on the washer for my clothes, and I’m still afraid to touch them.

Then there’s the problem of that pile in the backyard. Public works runs again in 3 days, so I have some time to figure out how I’m going to get it to the road.

Regardless of what I do, I’ll be cautious. I don’t want new army men that badly.

About Barry Currin

Barry tries to be funny and poignant, and he's usually satisfied when he succeeds with one or the other. (Being both is awesome. And sometimes that happens.) Email him:

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