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[IP] They call me Sweet Pee
The following was inspired by the fellow whose recent date with apparent
sarcasm asked, "See anything on that menu you can eat, Sugarboy?" and by
Sara F's question about whether
we all get upset by terms like "Sweetie," "Honey," "Sugar Plum" from our
When I was diagnosed at age 17, my senior year in high school and only a
couple of weeks before graduation, my doc of course put me in the hospital.
Every single afternoon of that week, one or two of my circle of high school
friends visited me. Not everyone came every day, but I always had visitors.
When I was finally liberated, they took me out to lunch and waited patiently
while I struggled to make something from the Big Boy menu fit my assigned
exchange diet (I finally gave up and just had a hamburger, fries and a
strawberry-milk shake. I never did manage to get that diet to fit anything
not expressly picked out for the purpose.)
A month and a half later, one of my girlfriends invited me for an
overnight at her house. The overnight turned out to be a surprise birthday
party. (I was surprised! I collapsed on the stairway, balling my head off
because I was so moved and honored by their gesture).
Among the gifts I received was a scrawny looking plant with pink and
white buds and flowers. It was, of course, a sweet pea, a visual pun on one
of the manifestations of diabetes, better known in those days when diastix
and glucotape were the only means of monitoring control. That particular
gift was from the boy (a classmate) I had begun dating shortly after
graduation. He had been among my regular visitors when I was in the
hospital, and one of my high school chums. I treasured that gift, and
planted it in my parent's back yard and was sad when it died.
That boy was my first love. Of course first loves rarely last, but
friendship can. I saw him 15 years later. He stopped by while we were both
in our hometown and somehow we got on the topic of AIDS and I said something
about how funding for AIDS research should be increased. He disagreed
emphatically, and argued that AIDS was a hip cause that was getting more
money than it deserved, money that should have been going to less glamorous
diseases like diabetes or arthritis or asthma. I recall I was scandalized by
his attitude....But, you know, after the passage of a few more years, I now
believe I was wrong and he was right.
Now, I also look back and realize that if my diabetes was not a
deterrent to this boy's liking me, it certainly wasn't because he didn't
understand the seriousness of the disease.
How does this relate to what has been deemed the insensitive "Sugarboy"
comment and Sara's question? Well, just that it's not what you say but how
you say it and who you are when you say it. For instance, had the young lady
usually shown herself to be a considerate and playful person, the fellow
might have enjoyed being called her Sugarboy. On the other hand, if the two
barely knew each other or she was generally known to be rude and intolerant,
well then, who wouldn't have lost their appetite?
I wanted to tell my sweet pea/pee story just because it's a fond memory
for me and I think it shows that besides insensitive morons, the world is
also populated with some really nice people.
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