"Fleckerl": an infectuous Austrian disease?

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March 3rd 2006
Published: March 3rd 2006
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Last week I found a big itchy red boil on my belly. Being the hypochondriac that I am, I immediately asked Hanna what it was that night at dinner. She said, in her assuring Austrian way (this lady is ALWAYS right, and when she's not right, she STILL is) that it was just a "Fleckerl" that I caught from a virus that her grandchildren had. I was puzzled, for I had not spent a minute with those children for over a week, but instead of objecting and in turn receiving a confusing explanation in thick Weststeirisch dialect, I zipped it.

For the next few days I'd notice the Fleckerl in the mirror and wonder if it would ever go away. Sometimes it itched, which made me worry, but then I assured myself that it wasn't so bad because Hanna said she got one on her chin and it went right away. Hmmm.

This morning I woke up frightened at the sight of Fleckerl all over my stomach and back. It was as if the Mother Fleckerl had had children who had all of the sudden grown up and decided to move to other far away places, the most curious place being right inside of my belly button. They itched too. I stood up, ripped my shirt off and examined my chest of pox or measles or whatever it was, and immediately rushed downstairs (after putting the shirt back on), demanding an explanation from Hanna. "Was IST denn das überhaupt?" she says, "Es sieht aber besser aus" and I said to myself "?????!!!!!???!?! It looks better? In which way? Red spots are the new trend or what?"

I shook my head, and finally she gave in and told me she'd drive me to the doctor. This time she said it could possibly be an "ansteckende Kinderkrankheit" (infectuous children's disease) and named Scarlett fever as one of the possibilities, and that I probably got it while teaching at the elementary school. She did nothing to sooth my hypochondriacism.

After 45 minutes in the waiting room, the doctor diagnoses an allergy to some new soap I had gotten. After prescribing 4 Austrian drugs to me, he actually said, "das ist überhaupt keine ansteckende Kinderkrankheit" as if people who live in this area really worry about diseases like scarlett fever all the time. Weird.

I went on with the rest of my day, and it was oddly more hectic than usual. Actually, life in Köflach is never hectic, but I spilled penuts twice all over myself and all the ATMs seemed to be out of service at the same time. There's hecticity for you, huh?

Well, my butt itches now so i think I have to go apply some Austrian cream on the Fleckerl.


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