Friday, March 18, 2011

Dammit! I Missed My Exit!

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I like to do nice things for people. A lot of times I even manage to do these good deeds without instantly mumbling things like "Yeah, you better say thank you" or "Sure, pathetic loser, I'll hold the door for you while you slowly amble through it while talking on your phone." My niceties have varied from simple things like picking up a dropped item at the grocery store for a person that appears as limber as a 2 X 4 to baking cookies for someone "just because" or even cleaning a friend's house and delivering dinner because I knew she had been really, really busy. And while I never expect to receive favors or cookies in return, I know that no matter how busy things get, true friends make certain relationships a priority and always manage to find even the smallest amount of time for each other. Or, at least, I thought I knew this but boy oh boy was I wrong and let's just say that lately there have definitely been a whole lot of cookies that haven't been given out but that's a whole different blog.

About a week ago, we went out of town for a tennis tournament. This involved a small amount of packing, planning and preparation and allowed my control-freak self to swing into action. But just as I was making the packing list on my mental dry erase board, Charlie cautiously informed me that he was going to pack his own clothes because there were certain tennis shirts he wanted to bring and he was sure that I would screw it up. Normally, relinquishing any control whatsoever makes me stammer when I speak and break into a sweat. But since we were only going to be gone for one weekend, I figured maybe this would be the perfect time to let the boy do the math and figure out how many pairs of socks to bring.

Turns out, he brought enough socks. He even remembered to pack underwear and pants. Unfortunately, though, he didn't remember to bring pajamas. And while this wouldn't have been a huge deal had we been going on vacation, it was a huge deal this particular weekend because we were at a tennis tourney so therefore weren't staying in a hotel that featured Egyptian cotton sheets on it's list of amenities. In fact, I think if I were to have read the fine print, it would have described the bedding as "Minnesota's finest 60 grit sheets."

After spending one night exfoliating all the skin off of his legs, we headed to Target in pursuit of some pajama pants. Or, at least I would have went to Target if I hadn't missed my exit. And I certainly would have just taken the next exit, waited at several sets of stoplights and went back to the Target exit if Zoe hadn't just said the dreaded words "I have to go to the bathroom." So while I normally don't acknowledge the existence of a Wal-Mart, I saw this one because it was right there and I knew that I only needed two things: pajama pants and a bathroom. As soon as I parked, though, I instantly regretted not telling Zoe that she would just have to hold it a little longer.

While Charlie waited for us and people watched, Zoe and I sprinted into the bathroom with one goal in mind: Don't. Touch. Anything. And then I felt like I was on a game show, trying to pick the one stall that wouldn't make me dry-heave. Stall #1 was out of the equation because it suffered from a combination of Bad Aim/Failure to Flush, Stall #2 was occupied, the handicapped stall was available and that extra elbow room is always so hard to resist, but Stall #3 was also a contender. Or so I thought.

Although the door to Stall #3 was ajar, it was very much occupied. Like, really oh my holy shit you can't even believe how occupied it was. A fairly voluminous elderly woman who, from what my olfactory senses told me, had forgotten she was lactose intolerant so therefore ate an entire Dairy Queen ice cream cake and four grilled cheese sandwiches and maybe a cheese ball right before she came to Wal-Mart, was sitting in Stall #3. With the door open. So that's it, we're taking the handicapped stall. And why Mrs. AARP Digestive Disturbance wasn't in there herself, I'm not quite sure.

As soon as Zoe was done with her business, she stuck her leg in the air, flushed with her foot (oh my god I was so proud!), I opened the door with my elbow and we were both about to make a beeline for the sinks. But then someone started talking to me. Someone in Stall #3.

"Excuse me, ma'am, but can you help me stand up? These stalls are just too narrow and I can't seem to find anything to hold on to. I can't even turn around. Do you have a minute?"

Seriously, people! What the fuck was I supposed to do? My kid is standing right there, pinching her nose and waiting to see if I'm going to be a good person or a candidate for Hell. There was no way I could have walked out of that bathroom knowing that I just left a poop-covered helpless old lady sitting on the toilet! Besides, I figured she had been in there a long time so obviously had figured out a way to maneuver her, um, panties to a location other than around her ankles (I would be wrong). After all, it's not like she said "Can you help me wipe my ass and then pull up my underwear, and while you're at it come over to my apartment, make me an egg salad sandwich and program my VCR?" All she wanted to know was "Can I grip your arm with both of my unwashed hands without traumatizing you for life?"

When we finally walked out of the bathroom, Charlie was standing there with his arms in the air and a "What the hell took you so long?" expression on his face, and all I could do was give him a "Don't ask. Just, don't ask." shake of the head. I did manage to say one thing, though: "Don't touch my arm."

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Neverending Winter

I remember a time in my life when I actually looked forward to the month of February. Coincidentally, this was also about the time that I didn't have my own driveway to shovel during a what-the-fuck-how-much-snow-can-possibly-fall winter, didn't mind having birthdays and definitely didn't have other people's illnesses creep up just in time to destroy happy hour plans.

February is only 28 days long, and February of 2011 will officially go down in the record books as the month known as Sucktastic Cough Cough Cough Science Project Plowhump. Seriously, it was that bad.

When I say that Zoe has been coughing for 30 days straight, I am not exaggerating. I swear the girl has coughed up her entire body weight X 3 in phlegm, has mastered the turn-and-hack-into-elbow maneuver as to not freak out other individuals, and has even been spotted carrying around an item that has been labeled Coughing Towel.

In addition to her having pneumonia the first week of the month, she has managed to wake up with a short-lived low-grade fever every Saturday morning (which, as a result, obliterated every Saturday night happy hour), I managed to acquire two colds within three weeks and Charlie got strep throat for the first time in his life (which, contrary to what he believed would be the outcome, he managed to survive). Our evenings, in addition to the usual yelling and shouting and assorted sounds of chaos, now include the appetizing sounds of sniffling and coughing and gag-reflex-triggering. It's all a little much, and pretty fucking gross.

Since those who know me well know that my house isn't exactly at risk for being featured on Hoarders and that I've been known to smell of a perfume best described as a combination of Clorox and Pledge, it makes me wonder where all this illness is coming from. I know there is a lot of shit going around and everyone knows someone that is or has been sick recently, but come on! This family does NOT get sick!

I knew that Zach wasn't the carrier, since he has actually managed to dodge the phlegm/strep-fest. It couldn't possibly be Doug because considering how much time he has spent at the office or quarantined in his office at home work work working, he isn't around any of us long enough to actually breathe the same air or lick any doorknobs. My colds always appeared after Zoe had them first and Charlie had strep throat after me, so this narrowed it down to the shortest member of our family. But seriously, the girl's hands are cracking because she washes them so often, so how much could she possibly be bringing into the house?

A couple weeks ago, during a brief time when the temperature crept above 45 degrees and some of this 627 feet of accumulated snow was forced into melting, I took our dog on a walk. It was a slushy, gross, stinky, sometimes slippery walk but still, it was exercise performed outdoors.

Without intending to, I ended up near the elementary school at the exact time that Zoe would be outside at recess. Since she had declared the day before as The Worse Day of Recess in the History of Recess, I decided to stop by with the dog and surprise her, hopefully turning that day into the Best Day of Recess EVER! Sure enough, as soon as I walked up with the dog, she threw her arms into the air with joy and was so excited that I was there. And I brought THE DOG! And all of the other snowpantsed, mittened, booted kids were excited to see THE DOG!

That was when THE DOG noticed all these children stumbling toward him and he started to feel fear. And let me tell you, he wasn't the only one.

The kids moved in a sort of skitterish, slow-mo, twitchy manner that was completely unpredictable. They formed a little mob scene around my poor dog, scaring the piss out of the poor thing, literally. I reached down and picked him up so that he was above most of the kids, but then they just closed in a little tighter and made noises similar to "Oooooh, a dawwwwwg, can I pet your dawwwwggg?"

The worst part about it is that they were all coughing. And I mean all of them were coughing. One boy said something like "Oh, that's (cough) a cute (coughity cough) dog I wish (hack hackity sneeze sputter) I had a dog like (cough) that (cough sniff cough) can I come over (cough hack) and play with Zoe's dog sometime? (cough cough)" Me: NO. And now I know why I'm sick. It's because of walking petri dishes like YOU!

But here's the best part...I don't know what the hell they served at lunch that day because my February lunch menu went into the recycling bin exactly five days ago, but I'm 99.9% sure it was stewed brains. It was clear that none of these kids know how to use a napkin, and that all of them (except Zoe, who had dined on a mom-made ham sandwich) had eaten this conglomeration of brains for lunch. I know this because the evidence was all over their faces, dried in a crusty red glaze around their mouths. Some of them even had a chunk or two up around their eyebrows, which made it really difficult to look them in the eye. So here I was, holding this cold, muddy, terrified white dog while a hoard of coughing, brain-dining children hovered around, all maneuvering in such a way that they could get close enough to me so that they could use their germ-covered hands to pet THE DOG!

And that was when I felt like Wichita in "Zombieland," being attacked by really short brain-eating zombies and just trying to make sure that me and my little dog got out of their alive and without any other diseases. And Zoe? Well, she would be one of the kids from a painting that hangs in her brother's bedroom because after all, she did have a pink shirt on that day: