As a teenager, I had the annoying habit of fainting whenever I got overheated. Of course, I never kept track of how often this happened. However, I remember two incidents quite clearly!
I was an active 13-year-old, going to spend the summer with my maternal grandparents. Travelling alone on the coastal boat made me feel quite grown up. It was calm, sunny, very warm and I anticipated a smooth trip.
There was another girl, around my age, on board and we became instant friends. We had great fun running all around the ship, from one deck to the other — until I spoiled everything!
On the upper deck, the stifling heat finally caught up with me. In a very undignified manner, I sprawled flat on my face and my new eyeglasses skittered across the deck.
I wasn’t out long. When I came to, someone had a cold cloth on my face. Someone else gave me a glass of cold water to drink. By now I had recovered enough to sit up. I finally convinced everyone that I was fine, it was just the heat, and this was not the first time it had happened. As my new friend and I walked away, I overheard a comment:
“She’s lucky! She could have gone overboard!”
I was a little more careful during the remainder of the trip. I did not want to risk being embarrassed again, and falling overboard was an entirely different matter — I can’t swim!
The next time I remember this happening, I was 16. At that time I had a real passion for black clothing. I thought black was cool, that it looked grown-up and sophisticated.
My best friend, Marilyn, worked in a convenience store and I delivered telegrams for Canadian National. It was Saturday and I had the day off but Marilyn was working. We were planning to spend the weekend in a little cabin which my family owned. I stopped by the store to check with her about something.
This was late July, it was hot, and I had been rushing around getting things ready. Putting pride before comfort, I was wearing black jeans and a black turtleneck sweater. While Marilyn served customers, she and I talked in between.
All at once I was lying on the floor! Mr. Price, the store owner, looked down and asked if I was okay. The poor man looked a little scared. With a little help, I stood up and went outside to sit on the doorstep until my strength returned.
To further add to my embarrassment, when I fell, I knocked a carton of eggs to the floor with me. Unfortunately, not one egg out of the dozen survived the crash. Marilyn had to clean up the mess because I was still too shaky to be trusted!
Now I am older and — I hope — wiser. My annoying habit of fainting from the heat no longer occurs. I have learned not to overexert myself in warm, humid weather.
© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Apr/May 2000
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