“That’s not really something you want to cheap out on, you know.” I can almost hear the sweet, sweet disdain in the voice of my ex (two removed) as I read the message in my chat window. I have just written that the meningitis shot will run me $145 plus the mandatory consultation fee ($45). Chastened, I hop on my bike and head down to the travel clinic.
I get in with a travel medicine specialist who reminds me of Dame Judi Dench’s M from the recent Bond films. She’s got a slapdash quality to her; her tweed suit seems bulletproof. Her blond hair is coiffed into a wispy helmet that compliments her icy eyes, and when she smiles the twinkle on her shiny molars reflects off the windowpane, filling the otherwise drab room with mischief and adventure. She makes me a better person. We are a house on fire, and within moments we are both laughing, heads thrown back in abandon.
“Meningitis!” she shakes her head, so I do, too. “Who put that in your head? Listen, if it were me I wouldn’t bother. You can get meningitis in Toronto.” My God – I have been misled. I thought I had to go all the way to South Africa to get meningitis but it was here the entire time. She consoles me. “Don’t worry – your time has not been wasted! We’ll get you adult polio and typhoid, and I am going to give you the follow-up price for this consultation. Fifteen bucks plus forty for the shots.” I love this woman so much that when she sticks the first needle into my right arm I barely feel it. She’s that good. As the second needle goes in – this time, squarely on the bingo wing – I say, “Ooooh. That one smarts a bit,” because I am swept up in the moment and want to throw in an olde style phrase. I leave the clinic and hop into my Aston Martin. I speak clearly into my cufflink: “Innoculations. Check.” I speed away.