Wednesday, May 18, 2005

In the Loupe, Chapter 24

Alright, here's a good one for you: Dengue Fever. Ha! Good times in Guadeloupe!

I definitely saw the little striped mosquito in the bathroom and I remembered I was supposed to avoid it, but it must have been far sneakier than I because halfway through Thursday afternoon I was nearly paralyzed with full-body pain. It took me over an hour to walk my 20-minute walk home and I collapsed on the bed feeling like I had been run over by a cement mixer.

The doctor confirmed dengue - which is called "la dingue" and which I associate, for whatever reason, with rabies and general wild-eyed-and-drooling behaviour, though this is fortunately not a state in which I find myself just yet - and said all I could really do was sleep, which is what I have done non-stop since Friday afternoon with the help of the painkillers she prescribed.

The best part about being house-ridden is that I got to listen to my neighbours' eight-hour barbecue on Sunday, especially as they had so thoughtfully arranged their chairs to be outside my bedroom door. The garden is only about eight hundred feet long, so it makes sense for them to specifically move the furniture from its regular place onto my patio. They must have realized that the best thing for a pounding dengue head-ache - apart from the crappy latin cd that some jerk across the valley blasts for hours every week-end, this time four times through, and the power-sawing of my security mechanism place across the street - is a drunk and raucous family shindig stationed outside my door. It makes me wonder: where would we be in this life without neighbours?

Franck has been very sweet throughout this ordeal, with back- and leg-rubs, house cleaning and the occasional pep-talk, not to mention dealing with fever-induced delusional behaviour, such as my being convinced (and terrified) my school principal was hiding in my closet or trying to leave the house in the middle of the night because I was just so hot and needed to find a river. Sunday he went above and beyond by carrying his grandma's extra tv all the way down from her house so I'd have something to do other than read all day. (That was before we discovered that I would actually sleep ALL the TIME.)

The problem is, I don't like tv. I like specific shows - I'm always up for a good dose of Seinfeld or Arrested Development - but not aimless tv, extra noise in the house for nothing. And tv here, at least on the four channels I can receive, is nothing if not aimless. There's always a weather girl somewhere, an obvious draw for certain audiences but not so much for me; there are two local channels, so I can watch people sitting around a café in Pointe-à-Pitre or I can hear the mayor talk some more about earthquakes; and there are American movies dubbed in French, which is something I just can't stand. I hear there's a BBC special on whales coming up, so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

I felt I should really watch something, though, the tv being so heavy and the walk from grandma's so far, so that Franck's suffering would not be in vain. I found local music videos and had fun for a while looking for common themes: about six were about someone coming back to life and a pretty girl weeping, and three or four were at poolside parties where a pretty girl got thrown in the water.

But then it just got lonely, because they're so bad that you need to make sarcastic comments and it isn't satisfying to make them to yourself. Every video has in common its 14-euro budget and the inevitable result of looking like a grade seven group project for Learning Through Media. The lip-synching is terrible and they often have girls in profile behind a sheet, singing back-up, while the sweaty man in a diamond-pattern cardigan looks into the camera and tries to seem sad.

What's worse is that watching it alone, sad and head-spinny and cooped up in my apartment, I started to lose my mind a little and those videos looked better and better. The final straw was when the guy died (he'd already come back to life a first time, but I guess it couldn't last) and the girl found the rose he had given her lying on his saxophone, and I said the words, "that was actually quite poetic." I haven't turned the tv on since.

Today's brand-new symptom: it looks like I dipped my palms into red dye. Isn't that weird? I mean, I'm new to the whole World of Dengue but I feel that Red-Dye-Hand is the dumbest thing I've ever heard of. All I can do is assume that this is the normal progression of the fever, rather than the doctor, in her haste, having misdiagnosed a case of raging syphillus or the like.

Anyway, that's things as they stand. I'm going back to bed.


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