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: