Wednesday, March 29, 2006

My Life as a Leopard

(with apologies to Lasse Hallström)

As Cat in Rabat awoke one morning from uneasy dreams she found herself transformed in her bed into a small-to-medium-sized leopard. Okay, apologies to Franz Kafka as well .... but, yes, the cat is now a leopard. I have spots. Many of them. They are red and bumpish-lumpish and are all over my back & upper arms. They look like insect bites but are not. Some are itchy, some are not. A reaction to something - but what? Truth be told, the fun-in-the-sun romp in the dunes was less than fab, but I reject any suggestions of post-traumatic stress disorder. I spent much of the time pissed off, not shell-shocked. Rage gives me wrinkles, not spots.

So, I decide to go to the doctor - which for anyone who knows me will attest that this, in itself, is nothing short of a miracle because I hate going to doctors. I thank my parents for this personality quirk: my brother & I had to have an eyeball hanging out of a socket by a muscousy sinew before we could trouble him. But I bump into a pharmicist I know en route to the doctor's, and he comments on my pretty 3-D spots and suggests what medication I should buy. At this point, my spots have migrated to my forearms and hands, and I make a mental note to change into long sleeves. I accept his advice.


I ask him what may have caused my metamorphosis. He believes that it's something that I have eaten - probably a reaction to oil from a tin. This is apparently common in Morocco. Have you eaten sardines? he asks. Nope, I'm a vegetarian, I say rather too smugly. The only thing that I have eaten which I did not prepare myself was an order of spring rolls from the "Chinese" restaurant down the street. When I asked, they assured me that they were 100% vegetarian. My pharmacist friend laughs, Vegetarian spring rolls! Ha! Ha! ho! Ho! Hee! Hee! I am annoyed and confess that they tasted awful (like fish oil?) and that I couldn't even finish them. They are still in my fridge and once I don a HAZmat suit, will remove them from my premises.


This is what I don't like about Morocco: shellfish and fish are considered vegetarian. Where I come from, if a central nervous system has replaced a root somewhere in a lifeform's evolution, it's probably not vegetarian.

But, this is what I like about Morocco: I don't have to go to a doctor or have a prescription to buy medication. I have saved 100 dirhams (for the doctor's visit) and 45 minutes of my time, and I now own some questionable pills that may or may not heal me. I may develop chest hair, grow an extra nipple, or be dead in 3 days but it was cheap.


Will Cat in Rabat-cum-Leopard change her spots? We shall see.


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