My friend Ken, sometimes known as Chrashing, and I met a few years ago on a discussion forum for PDA enthusiasts. He sparked some fun and interesting off-topic posts about the stupid things people do, cleverly dubbing these antics Stupid People Tricks, or SPT for short. I contributed the following tale of stupidity to that discussion, and - in keeping with vacation destinations - am sharing it with you now only slightly expanded from the original:
Let me tell you about my childhood allergy to pine trees. Yes, it's a sad thing for someone who loves the smell of balsam and wants nothing to do with artificial trees at Christmas. But, thanks to my allergy, we had to have an artificial Christmas tree, and I always suspected that my siblings resented it. They didn't want a crappy artificial tree - and back then, the artificial trees were pretty darn awful. The first one we had was made of silver tinsel - not exactly the kind of tree that dances in the dreams of wee little ones while waiting for Santa to arrive.
Fast forward to my early 20s and a room-mate who wanted a real tree in our apartment. I decided to risk it - the trade-off of a mild allergy was worth it to have a beautiful, great smelling tree to decorate for the holidays. As it turned out, I must have outgrown the allergy because I could tolerate the tree for the week or so it was in our living room. After that Christmas, I had a real tree at Christmas or no tree at all. No more tree problem.
Fast forward a few more years. Keith (then my boyfriend, now my husband) and I went camping in Maine, my first time camping there. And what a campsite! We were situated at the top of Somes Sound - the only true fjord on the eastern North American seaboard. Our camping platform was in a gorgeous pine woods overlooking the water where loons played and called. The ground was a cushiony carpet of pine needles. The bundles of cut wood we purchased locally for our campfire was mostly pine. I collected pine needles for little "sachets"; and cooked over the fire. We still talk about the delicious meal of salmon, broccoli and potatoes that I cooked in aluminum foil pockets over the coals of that camp fire.
After a few days of camping, I felt like I was coming down with a bad cold or maybe bronchitis. Even though it was August, there were some cool days of fog and rain. By the end of a week of cold medicine and taking it easy, I could hardly stand straight. Or breathe. I thought that maybe I had pneumonia - having had pneumonia a few times, I know what it feels like. Finally, the day before the end of our vacation, when the symptoms could be brushed aside no more, I went to a walk-in health clinic run for the benefit of summer tourists like me. They listened to me breathe, took some blood, did a few tests... came back and had this chat with me:
Doctor: Do you have any idea what you might be allergic to?
Me: Ummmmm...... [Thinking "holy crap!" while mental images of piney stuff flash before my eyes.]
Doctor: According to your IgE levels, you're having a serious allergic reaction to something. Any idea what it might be?
Me: Errr.... ummm... I'm sorta allergic to...uh... pine trees... I think.[Also thinking: plus, I'm an idiot.]
The doctor wanted to admit me to the local hospital, but as it was our last day there, I was given some drugs, explicit instructions, and a lecture before being sent on my way. Despite my dismal introduction to life in coastal Maine, I managed to not only survive, but to develop a love for the region. We go back every summer, if we can, for a week or two. We even got married there. But I no longer collect pine sachets or cook over smokey pine camp fires, something that has immensely benefited our subsequent time in Maine!