Posts Tagged With: Mary Poppins

Sugar Cubes, Syringes, and Sweet Relief

Mary Poppins was right: a spoonful of sugar does help the medicine go down. Even when it’s a sugar cube, decorated with a bright pink splotch of some suspicious substance.

I remember those sugar cubes in tiny paper cups, arrayed on tables in the Winner, South Dakota, city auditorium and handed out to a crowd of chattering children that included my sisters and me. It was the late 1950s or early 1960s, and we were among the many kids who received the much-welcome polio vaccine at immunization events all across the country.

I’m a little vague on the year, and I’m making an educated guess on the location. But I have no doubt about the bright pink color—or the awful taste. Even with the help of the sugar, it was bitter. Mary Poppins would have thought so, too.

In fact, without those vaccine-soaked sugar cubes, Julie Andrews might never have sung “A Spoonful of Sugar” in the 1964 Disney movie version of Mary Poppins. Robert Sherman, who with his brother Richard wrote the songs for the movie, came up with the lyrics for “A Spoonful of Sugar” after his son Jeffrey told him about getting the polio vaccine.

Back when I was dutifully crunching down my bittersweet pink cube, I didn’t know much about polio. I had seen photos of people in iron lungs. I knew of a handful of people in our community left handicapped by polio. I knew that my mother’s oldest brother, who died as a toddler decades before I was born, may have been a victim of polio. But as a child, I wasn’t really aware of the widespread fear of this disease or the deep relief that came with the polio vaccine.

Today, I know a lot more about our current pandemic. When, last week, I went to another vaccine clinic, it was with a feeling of relief that bordered on giddiness. This time, I wasn’t one of a crowd of fidgety children being herded into lines. I was one of a quiet group of adults, mostly over a certain age, respectfully masked and seated on folding chairs too far apart for chattering. If some of us felt fidgety during the brief wait for our turns, we kept it to our socially distanced selves.

There was no bright pink stuff on sugar cubes this time. Just a quick, painless jab in the arm from a nurse with beautiful warm eyes above her mask, who was friendly and gentle and clearly delighted with her pandemic-ending assignment.

I waited (patiently, since of course I had a book with me) in another folding chair for the required post-inoculation 15 minutes. During that time I developed a headache, which lasted for the rest of the day. It’s the only side effect I had, and it’s possible that part of it resulted from hearing Julie Andrews singing “A Spoonful of Sugar” in my head for several hours.

But this time, Mary Poppins notwithstanding, no sugar was needed to help the medicine go down. After this past year of isolation, fear, and sadness, the relief and joy of receiving a COVID vaccine was sweet enough all by itself.

Categories: Living Consciously, Remembering When | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

In The Bag

What on earth do people carry around in those things? Laptops? Library books? Walking shoes? Gym clothes? Small children? Litters of newborn puppies?

I know, I know—since I have to ask, I obviously don't get it. I don't understand the current style trend for huge purses. Maybe it's my lack of fashion sense. Or maybe it's my naïve belief that if you have something called a "handbag" you should be able to actually carry it, rather than needing to haul it behind you in a little red wagon.

These purses remind me of the magic carpet bag from which Mary Poppins extracted a series of improbable belongings, including a coat rack and a tall plant. (By the way, an Internet search for "Mary Poppins carpet bag," comes up with several places where you can buy a replica of her bag to use as—you guessed it—a purse. Sigh.)

I might have used a more contemporary reference and said these bags remind me of the magic bag carried by Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I. It contains, among other things, a tent the size of a three-bedroom house, complete with furnishings. But Hermione, being a sensible young woman as well as a skilled magician, was wise enough to condense all her camping necessities into a tiny evening purse.

I just don't get why these bulky bags are so popular. I suppose one might come in handy for defending yourself against a potential mugger. Provided, that is, you could manage to swing it high enough to knock him out with it.

My only other theory is a diabolical marketing scheme by a powerful cartel of chiropractors. There has to be a lot of money to be made from treating back and shoulder ailments of all the women who are hauling around half their worldly possessions in gigantic bags.

Most of these purses, besides being huge, are hugely over-decorated. They're covered with the initials of famous designers, or loaded with shiny buckles, chains, studs, and plastic ruffles or flower-like thingies. One day I noticed an elderly woman lugging one of these bags that had a big round design on the side. I couldn't quite figure out what it was until I got closer to her.

It was a clock. A working clock, with a traditional round face about four inches in diameter. It was covered with clear plastic to protect it, of course, which was a good thing since its slender owner was dragging it across the parking lot through the slush.

Okay, I suppose it might be convenient to be able to tell the time by glancing at your purse. You'd think it would be easier just to check her cell phone like everyone else. But of course she couldn't. She probably hadn't been able to find her phone in weeks. It was lost somewhere in the bottom of that enormous purse.

Categories: Just For Fun | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

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