I Guess It Had To Happen
“There are certain themes of which the interest is all-absorbing, but which are too entirely horrible for the purposes of legitimate fiction. These the mere romanticist must eschew, if he do not wish to offend, or to disgust.” –Edgar Allan Poe
What goes for mere romanticists probably also goes for bloggers. But I’m going to ignore Edgar’s advice. Plus, what I’m about to share with you ain’t fiction.
The new school year is now well underway and our nephews have been coming over after school again. The routine is pretty much the same as last semester except the homework is a little harder and the books they are reading are more interesting. And the jokes are a little more alarming.
Plus the fall weather is having an impact. We decided to go for a swim instead of extended homework the other afternoon and the pool temperature had dropped considerably. It didn’t seem to bother them, but I was convinced that my core body temperature was dropping perilously low and our favourite pool game “HMS Titanic” had become uncomfortably realistic. Not only that, I’m afraid that the weather will soon start to turn rainy and I’ll have to do battle with the SUVs when I go pick up the boys.
But that’s not the point.
The issue is that the inevitable finally happened. I never thought about it, and if I had I might have been less sanguine about this whole after school enterprise. We had our first (and I fervently hope, last) case of sickness. I use the term ‘sickness’ in the classical sense. As in, “I think I’m going to be sick” sickness.
In retrospect, I knew immediately that something was wrong when I met them on the walk home. They weren’t their usual cheery selves and Xerxes, the seven year old, was complaining about a headache.
Our usual regimen is a snack and then homework followed by some sort of diversion such as swimming, playing a game or doing a puzzle. The snack was in progress, more slowly than usual and it just happened. The poor kid’s condition deteriorated until the unspeakable occurred.
It wasn’t exactly a scene from The Exorcist, but let’s face it, when it comes to this sort of thing there are only two categories: pea green projectile vomit and the just plain horrendous.
We had the latter.
Worse, the poor little kid really tried not to make a mess.
But that only succeeded in ensuring that it was even worse. I.e., the incident was not localized but rather spread over an erratic path from the kitchen to the bathroom.
And then it got really bad.
Not, I hasten to point out, as bad as the time my boss and I were flying back from some outpost of our empire on a hot summer day. Some woman across the aisle and in the row behind us had a ‘problem’ which she compounded by failing to fully open the bag provided by the airline for such exigencies. It was bad but got infinitely worse when, on landing, the pilot informed us that the taxiway was temporarily closed and we had to park on the runway until it opened. “Park on the runway” was a euphemism for “bake in the summer sunshine.” My boss was turning more colors than the time I told him that I’d put a decimal point in the wrong place in the IT budget.
Fortunately the plane got moving and we bolted off before a chain reaction started.
Speaking of chain reactions, I’d experienced one of those once before on a 16 seater prop plane in heavy turbulence over the Appalachians. In retrospect, it’s kind of funny, but at the time it was the most horrible thing I’d ever experienced. If the word ‘surrealistic’ had not existed, it would have to have been invented for the occasion. The plane was flying sideways (really) and pitching up and down and the only good thing was that we were too miserable to be scared. One person grabbed their bag and started using it and it was like a cue for the rest of us. When we landed, the ground crew must have wondered what was going on. Sixteen bedraggled and green travellers staggering down the steps and gulping fresh air, each clutching a little white bag like it was our lunch. Well, for most of us, it technically was. Or had been.
The only good news about these incidents was that it was a great help to me during my annual review. I was able to credibly argue to my boss that ‘you don’t pay me enough’ to endure the stuff I have to go through. He had to agree.
Anyway, back to our newly festooned kitchen, hall and bathroom. What made it especially bad this time was that I felt compelled to help in the clean up process. Although initially I informed my wife that there was another thing besides windows (and worm farms) that I don’t do, I did participate. If we’d been soldiers, she would have led the attack and after she secured the beachhead I did the mopping up. Literally and figuratively.
You know what really helps? If you don’t have an outfit like this, take some of that Japanese wasabi mustard. We have a tube of it for when we have sushi. Take a little taste and it totally zaps your olfactory system until the worst is over.
The good news is that once Xerxes got it out of his system, he was his normal self again. And our floors are cleaner than ever.