Saturday, February 14, 2009

How It Goes Down

“Do not go running if you have had a chest cold and a fever.” EB is a good friend, and a much more experienced runner than me. We have been training together for the half marathon for weeks.

“I will not go running. I will wait until I feel better.” I lie.

“Because you should not go running if you have a chest cold and a fever, at least not for a few days. Because you could get pneumonia.” EB has a tone that tells me she totally knows that I am still going to go running tomorrow.

“Nope. I definitely won’t.” Still lying.

The following afternoon, my lying ass is wheezing and hacking in Dr. Butler’s office, as he informs me that I have pneumonia. I want to yell “MY BAD!” in the middle of his office, but that would require a level of oxygen that I am not currently producing. He hands me a stack of prescriptions and a coupon for Mucinex.

“Do you promise that you will go home and rest, or should I just admit you into the hospital now?” his dialing finger is twitchy and I know which way he’s leaning.

“No. I. Will. Rest. I. Promise.” I wheeze in defeat. This time I mean it. I go back out to the waiting room and hang my head in shame as I tell Christopher that I have really done it to myself this time.

“Lay down on the couch, or you will die.” He declares, once we are back home. (Despite what you may think, Sam does not get his flair for drama from me).

I lay down dutifully and try not to panic. Whenever Christopher is the sole able-bodied adult in the house, I have to remind myself not to panic.

Mostly, I panic because Christopher is, well, let’s use the term distracted. For the most part, it has a kind of “Absent Minded Professor” appeal. He has Other Stuff on his mind, like the three or four ongoing games of Scrabble he is playing on Facebook. Or where he left an 8 inch stack of bright yellow legal pad notes, or his wallet, keys, ID, cellphone, shoes, laptop, coat, gymbag, etc… that have inexplicably and suddenly disappeared, through no fault of his own. This leaves him incapable of seeing, say, a giant puddle of sticky, dried apple juice flecked with crumbs and dust in the middle of the floor. He simply crunches his way through it. Onto bigger and better, as they say.

“What time does Sam get out of school?” he asks as he measures out my first dose of codeine-laced cough syrup that will render me a drooling lump on the couch for the rest of the day.

“2:30” I say.

“2:30, as in be there at 2:30, or 2:30 as in be there at 2:10 or 2:15 or 2:20?” this is going to be a LONG ordeal, and suddenly, I am looking forward to my cough syrup. For an absent-minded person, he is appallingly precise.

“2:30, as in he walks out of the school building at 2:29, but you have to pick up Hannah first and you won’t get there until about 2:25, so you should make it, but you’ll have to park down the street.” Is he sure I am only supposed to have 2 teaspoons of that stuff?

“What time does Hannah get out of school?” He is starting to pace back and forth, which, since he took Trial Law last year, has not been a good sign.

“2:00.” I don’t volunteer any additional info – Christopher coaches me as a witness quite often, as a way of either keeping himself in practice, or because he finds it amusing. I am not sure which.

“2:00, as in 2:00, or 2:05, or 2:10?” He stares at me. When, oh when, will my cough syrup kick in?

“2:00 as in she gets dismissed any time between 2:00 and 2:20, but she is three years old and if SOMEONE has to WAIT for SOMEONE, it’s better if it’s not Hannah sitting on the curb. Capiche?” Things are starting to go a little fuzzy, finally.

Christopher frowns. I think he is trying to decide if it is time to MAKE A LIST. Whenever he is processing new information, he feels the need to MAKE A LIST. This is okay, because it works for him, but when we are forced to communicate and process something together (which, I can tell you is UNAVOIDABLE if you want to stay married, and believe me, I have tried), he tells me to MAKE A LIST. I sit with a sheet of paper, but usually aside from a general description, such as “new storm door” or “lack of funds to pay big stack of bills” I am clueless as to what useful information should be on my list. This usually leads to an argument in which I compose a smart-assed list that I find highly amusing, and he finds childish and entirely unhelpful, like;

a. The Strong Wind
b. Blew the Storm door back
c. And bent the door frame
d. We need to replace
e. The Storm door
f. But
g. I am currently unemployed
h. And
i. We are broke
j. Hence
k. No new Storm door, right now.

Since I am now comfortably stoned from my cough syrup though, I decide I feel cooperative.

“Want me to MAKE A LIST?” I ask.

“Thanks, but no thanks.” He sighs and covers me over with a quilt. “I’m going to pick up the kids, don’t get up. Just try to sleep, okay?” he points a finger in my direction. “Seriously, stay on the couch and rest. I’ll be right back.”

I dozed off and in what seemed like five seconds, he had returned with both kids. And they were even both ours. That was a good sign I decided. The kids and I hung out for a while, and Chris helped Sam with his homework. Things went smoothly, then they got hungry.

“Can I have something to eat?” Sam is standing over me and shouting really loud. He thinks pneumonia has something to do with your ears.

“Mommy is sick today buddy. I’ll make dinner in a few minutes.” Chris looks up from studying at the kitchen table, from where he has supervised all goings on, including my bathroom trips and how I am ‘dawdling’ because I don’t want to lay down.

Sam and Hannah simultaneously turn and look at me. “Daddy is going to COOK?”

Even stoned, the smell wafting in from the kitchen was not appealing. Christopher prepared a box of Hamburger Helper, Lasagna flavor, precisely according to package directions, to which he added a leftover carton of fried rice, a few chunks of pineapple and some steamed peas and corn. He mixed in the remains of a jar of salsa and a few spoonfuls of mustard. And you can’t imagine how delighted he was, then, when he found three old Stand N’ Stuff taco shells in the back of the cupboard to complete the meal.

Hannah climbed up onto my lap and took my face in her hands, because that is what she does when we are having a serious discussion. “I am not hungry Mommy. Not hungry.” She insisted.

“I AM hungry. But I’m not eating THAT.” Sam also gets his tact from his father.

“How about if we order pizza?” I suggest, trying not screech.

Chris looks a little hurt, but does not try to defend his dinner. At all. Instead he dials the phone in answer. Sam and Hannah immediately jump on the couch to watch for the pizza guy, and I happily accept my second dose of cough syrup.

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