Wednesday, May 31, 2006

My Niece, My Nemesis

Nemesis: the Greek goddess of retributive justice; one that inflicts retribution or vengeance; a formidable and usually victorious rival or opponent

This past weekend, Memorial Day, my plan was to travel to Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha to visit my brother (who is a dentist there), his wife, and my niece, Stella, who was having her first birthday. But plans, they be foiled. (Not that spending a weekend in tract housing on an Air Force Base is much of a plan to begin with, but I'll leave that one for another time...)

I had tried to smooth the way for my trip by spending my last two months' paychecks for a direct flight from New York to avoid the dual-leg snags that ruin every single trip I have ever tried to take home: lost luggage (without fail), delays, missed connections, nights spent overlooking a dumpster in suburban Minneapolis or sleeping in a bathroom stall in Houston. However, Continental saw fit to cancel my Friday evening, easy as pie direct to Omaha due to "weather," never mind that it was sunny both here and at my destination when my flight was due to take off. This meant instead "arising" at 1:30 a.m. Saturday after a two-hour nap to take the A train through the slums of Brooklyn to JFK for a connection via Houston that meant an 11-hour slog as opposed to a 3.5-hour jaunt. Off to a great start!

But it was worth it for Stella, right? That sweet little moppet of sunshine, that smiling bouncyball of babyfat, the gurgling little gargoyle of squish? Here she is, doesn't she look sweet?

NO. SHE DOES NOT LOOK SWEET. It's true that in the photo to the right (blown out as it is, causing me to squint and develop a sudden double chin), it appears as though she is snuggling up to my breast, showing with her hug the adoration and love her nonverbal self cannot yet express. But that's not what was happening.

If you see this baby, avoid, run, hide, leap into oncoming traffic to dodge her, if you must. Because that's not a hug she wants to give you -- it's an intestinal virus that will bring you to your knees. LITERALLY, TO YOUR KNEES, over a toilet, for a period of 24 to 48 hours, with unfathomable liquids erupting from every orifice of your fever-ridden, quakeing, clammy body. [NOTE: ALL PICTURES TAKEN BEFORE 'OUTBREAK' MOMENT.]

Here, as I am lofting her over my head, playing the "Look, I am now 7 feet tall!" game, I might have begun to regret about the cobwebby status of my own barren, rapidly aging womb. But no longer! One thing this weekend taught me is that a lonely, echoey belly might be a blessing, if it means keeping my house free of the virulent strains of disease babies apparently bring home.

Sure, sure, I brought olive branches, I tried to make peace with this miniature human conveyer of biological warfare. I got her this cute little wooden alligator pull toy that goes click click click to celebrate her new talent for "walking," because you know, not that many people can do it so it's something to be celebrated.

Here she is, she looks like she loves it, doesn't she? Haha, folks, that's all a game. What she's really thinking is this: "Ok, Lady, you swoop in here to change my poopy diapers every few months and I'm sick of being the only one in this house who shits their pants in front of witnesses! I'm going exact my revenge -- have fun waiting on line for the rest of your vomiting family to get out of the bathroom!"

Naturally, my flight home was delayed by three hours for no explicable reason, and I had to pay a $100 change fee to fly a day later even though I told them to return earlier meant vomiting on fellow passengers -- people, do NOT FLY CONTINENTAL. However, the experience did teach me one thing, and that is that there is one being in the world who truly loves me, will protect me, and most importantly, will never infect me: my brother's dog, Jackson. After he heard me repeatedly puking and moaning down the hallway on my crawl back to the couch in the middle of the night, he feared my expiry and came out to sit on my feet all night, warming them and being at the ready to bark at the event of my obviously impending death, alerting my brother to the need for a hearse. Here he is this winter:

Of course, Jackson's heightened affection for me could just be because of his proclivity for "smells." Jackson's favorite pasttime, aside from running and getting petted, is eating panties and underwear, and the smellier the better. Considering I had spent 8 of the previous 12 hours in the bathroom, perhaps it was just the heady aroma of sickness and near-death experience that drew him to my lap.

One funny-slash-sad thing that happened after my return was my (red-state, Republican, evangelical Christian) father, who also caught "the bug," called me to talk about the vehemence of the sickness. He has only taken one sick day -- which requires cancelling all of his toothachey patients -- in 30 years, so taking two days off to fight this bitch in his belly was a real novelty. We laughed and talked for 20 minutes about all the disgusting things that had happened to our bodies in the last two days and before we hung up, he said, "Well, at least now we have something in common!" Oy.

For my next vacation, I'm thinking of signing up for the "Re-Enactment of Trail of Tears Weekend" or perhaps "Relive the Bataan Death March!" At least I'll know what I'm getting into when I board my (sure to be delayed, or even cancelled) flight, and maybe I'll lose 10 pounds in water weight instead of only two.


Anonymous anonymousbloggerwhoalsogotastomachvirus said...

you're neice is my nemesis as well.

10:58 PM  

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