It’s a well-established fact that children are essentially walking germ repositories. You combine an uncontrollable urge to grab and play with any- and everything that drifts in front of their maniacal little eyes with an inability to remain upright for more than thirty seconds at a time that results in a lot of contact with the ground and top it off with the mental lack of development to know that hand-washing is a good thing, and it’s no surprise that germs stick to them like lint on my nice pants. (Seriously, I have never had pants that attract lint like these navy slacks. I feel like a candy cane on the lawn and the ants are swarming.)
This time, though, it was my wife who brought the bug home. One of those feels-like-a-cold-but-it’s-not-really-a-full-blown-cold things, with the stuffiness and the sore throat and the general feeling of weakness and impending doom that these things bring. Regularly I ask what I can do to help, and regularly she responds, “kill me.”
She’s been miserable for almost a week, and when you couple that with the fact that the babies are regressing and waking up in the middle of the night, well… let’s just say it adds up not to be fun times in the house of Pav. Trouble is, my lovely wife wakes up if a mouse farts in the house, whereas I can sleep through crying kids, howling wind in the trees… hell, I could probably sleep through a shootout in the cul-de-sac. So naturally, she wakes up way before I can hope to when the kids wake up in the night, so I have virtually no chance to beat her to the punch on handling the kids. In short, she’s been not only miserable but also exhausted, and there is precious little I can do to alleviate the trouble.
Contagion was a horrifying film that came out a few years ago about one of those super-bugs that comes out of nowhere and wipes out the better part of the population in the space of a few months. Fantastic viewing for times like these in its own right, but it taught me a word that I wish I could unlearn: Fomites. A fomite is any otherwise inanimate or harmless object which is tainted with the infectious microorganisms from a doomed person, and the film brilliantly illustrates the concept by showing closeups of fingers touching elevator buttons, lips sipping from cups of coffee, hands passing cash back and forth, shoulders brushing through revolving doors. In short, GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE AND YOU’RE DOOMED.
Somehow, strangely, I was laying low and avoiding the disease. But when you’re a jerk like me you can only avoid fate for so long. Also, my wife and I share a lot of the same hoodies when we lounge around the house (yes, we can afford heat, but no, that doesn’t mean we use it all the time, do I look like I’m made of money). She used one of my favorites for an entire day the other day, coughing and spewing her dread spray into its shoulders and elbows and didn’t tell me, then I wore said hoodie while doing laundry this weekend. Essentially I was wearing the Queen Bee of the fomite colony in the house.
So now I have it.
And my wife is a lovely woman, but she takes a disconcerting pleasure in the fact that I have succumbed to this plague after she’s suffered with it for a week. I don’t know, I’d think there would be a little bit of sympathy or something given that she knows both the drear dankness I’m feeling and the creeping death in my future. But no. With poorly-masked glee she asks me how I’m feeling. Trying not to grumble too much, I mention the goopy drip in the back of my throat. She grins and claps with delight and tells me that the stuffy, my-head-is-full-of-slime feeling is coming next, and I wake up the next morning and there it is: my head feels like it weighs an extra five pounds with all the snot I’m piling up. And I look to her for pity as we wake up and she only laughs.
To her credit, I usually resist these things and she usually doesn’t, so I guess I can excuse a bit of schadenfreude. But that doesn’t make things any easier to swallow when my throat feels like garden gnomes have been going after it with a potato peeler and my skull feels like it’s crammed with cottage cheese.
The only hope at this point is that the kids don’t catch it. If the kids catch this bug, abandon all hope.