When I was younger being sick enough to require medicine was like a game of Russian roulette. There seemed to only be three types of medicine that I would ever get and waiting to find out which one I'd have to take was like waiting for a jury's verdict.
The first was a disgusting, pure white substance that tasted like chalky metal. My heart would sink at the sight of this one as it was not only a gross tasting medicine, but its most redeeming quality seemed to be the fact that it resembled milk, which I had decided to hate at a very early age.
The second was a brand of cherry-flavored death by the name of robitussin. If there was one thing that was ever going to keep me from faking an illness as a kid, it was that stuff. Robitussin was so painfully bad that I would refuse to take it when I got sick. And because it was supposed to be cherry-flavored I swore off of all cherry candy for the rest of my childhood. I was 23 when I first gave in and decided to try a red starburst for the first time.
The third was something else entirely. It was the holy grail of getting sick: The pink bubblegum medicine. This stuff was so good that I would cross all my fingers whenever I got sick, hoping that this was the medicine I'd get. And when I say I'd cross my fingers I don't mean like a normal child. I would cross my pointer and middle fingers, as one normally does, but then I'd also cross my ring fingers and pinkies. I'd then merge the right versions of the crossed fingers with the left versions of the crossed fingers while simultaneously linking my thumbs and creating a terrifying knot of thorny-looking phalanges. In my three-year old mind this amplified the magical properties of finger-crossing ten-fold.
The pink bubblegum medicine not only made me relieved that I didn't have to face The Milk Of Despair or Robitussin AKA The Blood of Satan Himself, it also warranted its own celebration simply due to how delicious it was. When I was three-years old I remember I had come down with an ear infection and was patiently awaiting my sentencing in our kitchen, which had just gained some very prestigious linoleum tiles. It seemed like my mother had spent an eternity at the medicine cabinet preparing the measuring cup and the bottle, my toes curling beneath my blue footie-pajamas in anticipation. And then she turned around, the measuring cup full of a bright pink liquid.
I was immediately overtaken with relief and, out of celebration, began to dance. It started with the robot, which at the age of three was mostly just me flailing my arms up and down in a chopping motion, and then it gradually turned into some kind of sloppy tap dance, with my legs shooting out in every direction. This continued for only a few seconds before the fabric on the bottom of my feet slipped along the slick kitchen tiles and I fell directly on my face. Blood started gushing from my chin by the buckets. "I'm ready for the pink bubblegum medicine," I squeaked out of my tiny broken mouth.
A few moments later I was on my way to the hospital in an ambulance, with no pink medicine in sight. And I was pissed. The paramedics tried to cheer me up with funny jokes and interesting stories, but I was having none of it. I would just stare back at them blankly, my mind fixated on getting home as soon as possible to partake in the wine of the gods that had just narrowly escaped my grasp. When we arrived at the hospital the same thing happened.
"This may pinch a little bit but I promise it won't hurt THAT bad, okay? Be a brave little soldier!" the doctor spoke to me in a condescendingly soothing voice while preparing my chin for the suture. I simply stared back at her, desperately ignoring the sick rubbery smell of the stitches entering my bloody face. As she finished up and stepped back to admire her work, a thought occurred to me. As sick as I'd ever been I'd never had to go to the hospital before. Surely this situation would call for an extension on how long I'd need to take the pink bubblegum medicine. A huge smile sprawled across my face at the thought, which the doctor wrongfully assumed was me expressing happiness towards the fact that I was no longer in danger of dying from blood loss. I looked back at my mother and, just quiet enough that the doctor couldn't hear me, whispered, "I think I'll need to drink the whole bottle of bubblegum medicine for this." I turned back to the doctor, the smile still plastered across my face.
"You are such a little trooper!" She said, handing me a lollipop and patting me on the shoulder. She then turned to my mother. "You have the most well-behaved kid I have ever worked on. Most children would've been screaming and crying that whole time." My mother looked over at me, my left eye now twitching as I imagined myself floating in an inner tube down the inevitable river of bubblegum medicine I would be receiving for this adventure.
"...Yeah. He sure is something."
Ryan C. Robert is the writer of multiple comedy blogs, most of which are satirical and self-deprecating. He writes about his life in his personal essay series "Before Color," parodies cooking blogs in "Trish's Dishes" and posts writing prompts every single day.