Month: February 2020

The Story of Rachel

NB I like to think that Christians will come here thinking that this is the story of Rachel from the Bible and then be disappointed because it isn’t. Then again maybe there are some parallels, who knows? But it’s highly doubtful.

This tale begins with me living next door to a girl called, funnily enough, Rachel. We were the same age – about 3 or 4. She used to come over to my house regularly to play, and I remember having a bath with her once at her place. Our fathers were friends and they used to hang out making oil paintings in Rachel’s dad’s garage studio. No, that’s not a euphemism for anything and I can prove it.

I didn’t like Rachel very much. She played rough. She broke my toys, and would always grind the belly of my Fisher-Price aeroplane into the concrete walkway behind our house. It made me mad because I treated things – mine or not – with respect.

Our back yard was enclosed by a wall-of-splinters fence about 2 metres high with a single gate set in it. It was all painted mission brown because this story takes place in 1970s Australia. One day Rachel came to the side of the house and called out for me. Vegemite sandwich in hand, she asked me to open the gate so she could come in and play. Wanting to spare my toys from further destruction, I said no. She ignored me and started to climb the splintery nightmare, passing me her sandwich through the slats. It was a single slice of white bread that had been buttered and Vegemited on one side, a fact that will become relevant a couple of paragraphs from now.

I had been counting on Rachel never making it over the fence. It was easily twice her height and more. But not only did she make it over, she climbed the whole thing with ease. She even took a half-inch splinter to the hand in the process and it didn’t seem to bother her at all. I was seriously impressed and more than a little envious – a wound like that would probably have made me cry like a little bitch!

Despite my admiration for Rachel’s feats of dexterity, strength and fortitude, she still posed a threat to my toys. I had a duty to protect them, which was why instead of putting her Vegemite sandwich back in her hand, I mashed it into her face. It clung to her nose for a second before plopping face down in the dirt. She stared at me, stunned, and then burst into tears. I opened the gate and she ran home. This isn’t anything to be proud of, and I’m not. But in my defence, I probably hadn’t even turned 4 yet. Toddler politics can be brutal. I doubt Rachel even remembers any of this, anyway, or at least I hope she doesn’t.

This next bit is only tangentially related to this particular story. Rachel’s parents were anti-vaxxers. Not long after the events described here, she gave my mother rubella (aka German measles) which later morphed into meningitis and encephalitis. Mum almost died. What was Mum doing unvaccinated, I hear you ask? Well, she was born in the 1940s and the rubella vaccine wasn’t available in Australia until 1968.

So I guess if there’s a take-home message in all of this, it’s twofold: don’t mess with my shit, and vaccinate your fucking kids.

⊗                    ⊗                    ⊗

Posted by H.R. van Adel in Personal, 0 comments