The Meaning of Drat

“Drat!” I snarled with unhappy emphasis.

“Did you just say ‘drat?’ asked my wife. “Nobody says drat anymore. Not since Snidely Whiplash died.”

“He’s dead?” I was shocked. I’d grown up watching old Snidely putting Nell on the railroad tracks in early episodes of Rocky and His Friends. Ofr course, Dudley Doright always saved the day, just in the nick of time. He was inept, of course, but Nell always survived. I guess that’s the power of a performance contract.

“No, he’s not dead. His future is just unwritten.” said my wife intelligently. “Why are you dratting?”

“My fever is coming back. I’m hot and feel like my head is filled with Jell-o.” She came over and felt my forehead.

“Yeah, you feel hot. Have you taken any aspirin?”  I had, and said so. Four days ago I had her take me to the VA hospital. I was concerned that I’d caught pneumonia again –or at least bronchitis. I was still sore from the visit. Claiming I was dehydrated, the ER nurse had taken seven tries to get an IV into my vein so they could dump a couple of bags of saline into me. I looked like a bruised pin cushion still, with little dots surrounded by angry purplish bruises tinged now with a bit of yellow. The nurse had tried again and again, choosing a new spot with each try. He finally gave up after six attempts and stuck me on the back of my hand where my veins are raised and entirely visible, and where I had suggested he drill in the first place. He was at least abashed at his failure and apologized profusely. I forgave him; he was a nice sort with a great sense of humor. He just sucked at starting IVs.

The doctor had sent me to get my chest xrayed and then gave me a nebulizer breathing treatment before sending me home with a packet of Zithromycin against the possibility that whatever was wrong with me was bacterial. Having ingested the last pill in the morning and was still feeling lousy, I assumed that my issue was viral. I’ve spent the week breaking out in heavy sweats as hot flashes threatened to set me on fire and left nasty headaches in their wake. I had other problems, but to mention them would be TMI (too much information) and since it’s the holiday season still, I’ll spare you. But I’ll pass it along that I have body aches making my muscles feel like they’ve been insulted by actual strenuous effort, which is hardly the case. My disability prevents anything too taxing.

“I can’t believe you said drat.” My wife can be relentless at time. This was one of them. “Why would you say drat when there are lots of other things you could say.” She stared at me daring me to reply. I did.

“I felt like it.” I said, showing my erudite make up. “Drat seemed to contain all of the elements I was trying to conjure with my expression.”

“Yeah? Like what?”

“Like an impending sense of doom.”

“Nell felt the impending sense of doom. Whiplash said drat because he was foiled …again.”

“Okay, well, that actually fits. I should have said an impending sense of failure.” I was becoming petulant. I get cranky when I don’t feel well and someone is catching me saying something ridiculous. Like drat.

“Alright. I guess I can accept that. Your health has foiled you yet again.”

“Yes.” I said. “Aren’t you supposed to be all empathic and consoling about my infirmity? How come you’re picking on me?”

“Because you said drat. Nobody says drat, what’s the matter with you?”

“I’m sick!” I said imploring pity. It was not forthcoming. Instead, I was told to go take a nap or watch some television or read my Kindle. I sat still and stared into space.

“What’s wrong now?” my wife asked without a shred of concern.

“I can’t decide which of those things to do. I think the fever is giving me brain damage.”

“Hrmmm..” she hrmmed. “You may be right. After all, you said drat.”

“I think I’ll just stay here and keep you company.” I said.

“Drat.” she replied.