I used to get terribly dehydrated during my childhood summers. I always slept with a fan on, the oscillating hum of the blades lulling me to sleep. I’d wake in the morning with dry, cracked lips, a headache, and a fever.
A part of me liked getting sick. My relationship with my father was strained, even when I was a child. I was stubborn and back-talking and absolutely miles from a paragon of Khmer daughterhood. Of course, a sick child is a sick child, and a good father is a good father. I loved the cool touch of my father’s large, rough hand on my forehead. My mother did the same, and her hands have their own place in my heart, but my father’s touch– was a special occasion.
It wasn’t until years later that I realized that I subconsciously reveled in the bronchitis, the dehydration, the fever, because I knew that he would come to my room, quietly ask how I was feeling in his rough ex-smoker’s voice, and feel my forehead.
And I remember a lot of Gatorade. Large packs from Price Club (or Costco, I’m not sure which it was at that point). Lemon-lime was my favorite, then. My father was always quick and diligent about treatment, remedies, whatever the doctor or common sense said it would take to make it better. And when the doctor said I needed to rehydrate, we would get Gatorade. For the electrolytes, I suppose. I have probably drunk hundreds, if not thousands, of gallons of Gatorade in my lifetime.
To this day, whenever I see a bottle of Gatorade, I still think of those hot summers and the whir of a fan and my father’s cool palm on my forehead.
word from t