“Mom, I didn’t want to worry you, but I spent Monday night in the school infirmary. I’ve got mono. But I am feeling much better now,” said Ricky trying to put on his most cheerful voice. I counted on my fingers. Geez, that would be six whole days ago. My college son rattled off the news far too quickly, and then, changed the subject during his obligatory Sunday phone call from college far away in a land they call Virginia. Ricky has always been my “up front” child. Some kids try to sweep unpleasant occurrences carefully under the wall-to-wall carpeting from their mothers, but not my youngest child. From a very early age, Ricky’s motto has always been, Mom is going to find out anyway, so just get it over with. He took the same approach with the three parking tickets he received in one weekend, with my car, while he was home for Spring Break. “By the way, I got a couple of parking tickets. But I really thought it was OK to park there,” Ricky matter-of-factly informed me last month. “You know son, one parking ticket is a teensy clue you probably shouldn’t be parking in that spot. Three is a large brick to the forehead,” I countered, noting that a portion of his first summer paycheck would be headed my way. Of course, I wasn’t going to let Ricky pass on the distressing mono news. Mothers don’t like it one bit when their children are 1,246 miles away and the least bit diseased. Applications of cold compresses, heaping hot bowls of chicken noodle soup and gallons of bubbly 7-Up are most difficult to administer from such a distance. Even though it was basically a moot point, I couldn’t help but ask the question. “OK, so how do you think you contracted mono? Hopefully, you haven’t been using your roommate's toothbrush,” I asked with no clear expectations as to his exact answer. “Mom, I’d never do that. Yep, I know exactly when it happened,” said Ricky. I was to learn that most Fridays in the p.m. is Chinese take-out night among a large group of his college peers. I had heard the chow hall cuisine wasn’t much to speak of multiple times from our son. Actually, I was recently informed they do conjure up one dish quite well … cheeseburgers. It is probably why Ricky gave up cheeseburgers for Lent. For sure, it seemed an unusual, but adequate Lenten sacrifice. But heck, what college campus adequately caters to the varied taste buds of the average 18- to 22-year-old? I imagined the Chinese restaurant in the tiny college town probably sent a dump truck to deliver to the 1,200 Virginia Military Institute cadets craving the exotic fare most every weekend. Apparently, on that one fateful night in question, Ricky had already plowed through his heaping meal and disposed of the plate and eating utensils. One of his stuffed and satisfied buddies casually offered his last morsel of General Tsao’s chicken to any of his peers, and heck, if Ricky couldn’t resist the temptation. “I used his fork, and wouldn’t you know it, a few days later he was in the college infirmary with mono,” Ricky confessed, noting that if he was destined to contract the calamity, General Tsao’s chicken was most certainly worth it. Again, Ricky immediately changed the subject to the good news about having mono. He was excused from physical activity, marching, and the upcoming overnight field training exercise right before the end of school. There was no mention of the mental energy required to write that 10-page paper due on Friday. I decided not to go there. Obviously, he was on his own. Geez, I can’t wait to get my happy Mother’s Day phone call this weekend. Since Ricky is doing so well with his mono, he should have no problem with the physical activity required to pick up the phone. Dixie Frantz is a Kingwood resident and newspaper columnist for the past decade. E-mail Dixie with your comments at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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