Last night at work I was listening to the Marc Maron podcast, and he was interviewing a comedian named Mary Mack. I was unfamiliar with her, but she turned out to be quirky and appealing. I liked her; she was a lot of fun.
But her name – Mary Mack – conjured some feelings of queasiness that date all the way back to my time in California.
During my life I’ve twice been so sick I thought I was going to die. Those of you who have experienced REAL health problems can go ahead and roll your eyes at that one, but I’m not kidding. Both times I thought I was moving toward the light.
The first was in Atlanta, when I had the flu. And I’m talking about the real deal, not that catch-all “flu” that people use for any sniffle or fever they encounter. If you’ve ever had the actual flu, you know what I mean. It was one of the worst two weeks of my life.
I felt like absolute hell for what seemed like an eternity. I couldn’t eat or get the slightest bit comfortable, and it took a monumental effort to get off the couch and drizzle some oddly-colored urine into the toilet every few hours. My ex-girlfriend brought me some food every once in a while, but it went untouched. I had no appetite, and not enough energy to walk into the kitchen, anyway.
I called the doctor, but they told me I had the flu and needed to just ride it out. There was nothing they could do for me, and I was so weak I wondered if I was going to make it. It sucked worse than just about anything I’ve experienced. I wanted to call my parents, but couldn’t muster the energy to do it. It was the worst.
My second death spiral happened in California, when our oldest boy was real young. Maybe one or two, who the hell knows? But I remember he kept watching a VHS tape of that Barney show, featuring the sexually-confused dinosaur. The same tape, over and over, as little kids are wont to do.
It was the height of summer, and probably 100 degrees outside. But I was wrapped up in two or three blankets, shivering. I was in a state of misery, and couldn’t shake it. I missed so much work I was worried they might have replaced me.
I went to a doctor (which tells you how shitty I felt), and he was a total asshole. He bitched the whole time, about me not coming in for checkups, and only showing up when I’m sick. I was at death’s door, and he wanted to give me a lecture. I just sat there, with greenish skin and a frown. Oh, and he also said I had a really bad case of bronchitis. He added that almost as an afterthought.
During the two-week hell, that Barney tape was playing, again and again. In one of the episodes a woman who looked like a New Orleans voodoo queen appeared. I can’t remember all the details but I think she slaughtered a chicken and smeared some of its blood on a wall. It’s a little foggy at this point. She also sang a song with these approximate lyrics:
Miss Mary Mack (Mack Mack)
All dressed in black (black black)
With silver buttons
Stuffed up her crack (crack crack)
I’m pretty sure that’s how it went, and it bugged me. I don’t know why… there was a lot of stupid-ass singing on that show, but the Mary Mack song really bothered me. It never failed to throw me into a full-body clench.
And last night, fifteen years after the fact, I felt a familiar twinge of nausea and darkness, when Marc Maron introduced his guest: Mary Mack. Just those two words was all it took… It’s amazing how a song, or even a suggestion of a song, can transport a person like that. Know what I mean?
And as you might have guessed, I’m going to make that the Question of the Day. In the comments section, please tell us what song or piece of music does the best job of taking you back in time. I have several of them, but won’t muddy the waters with multiple tales.
I’m just going to turn it over to you guys, and let you take it from here. Please tell us your stories below.
And I’ll be back tomorrow.
Have a great day!