by Mike Todd
“Well, at least tonight has been memorable,” I said. “Most Saturday nights just turn into a blur of pizza boxes and Netflix envelopes, but not this one, right?”
“Uuuuugh,” my wife Kara replied. She said something after that, too, but I couldn’t quite make it out, partly because she wasn’t enunciating but mostly because her head was inside the toilet bowl, which apparently has very poor acoustic projection.
I couldn’t stick around to chat anyway, since our toddler Evan was busy in his crib doing his best impersonation of Linda Blair from “The Exorcist” but without the head-spinning. At least I imagine that’s what the scene from The Exorcist would have looked like if I had been dumb enough to watch that movie. I handle horror movies about as well as anybody, as long as anybody doesn’t sleep for three days afterwards.
We were managing to put on a pretty good horror show of our own last Saturday night, light on the gore but heavy on the splatter. It was all my fault. I had recently asked the question: “Did you ever notice that Evan never throws up anymore?”
“Don’t say that. You’re tempting fate,” Kara replied.
Turns out, Kara was right. I had put a rhetorical slice of moist strawberry cheesecake right in front of Fate, and Fate was very tempted.
“Oh, I really shouldn’t,” said Fate. “But what the heck. Just this once.”
And so our house was blighted with a 24-hour bug that took out two-thirds of its human occupants, sparing only me, perhaps because I was gracious enough to invite it in.
It’s a strange phenomenon, when everyone around you gets sick but you don’t. You know you didn’t do anything to deserve it, but you still feel kind of cool, which is how it must feel to win a Grammy.
Before witnessing the carnage last Saturday, I thought 24-hour bugs sounded delightful. Only 24 hours? Whenever I’ve gotten sick as an adult, the symptoms seemed to last longer than the Crusades, and I’d gladly have taken a condensed version instead. But now that I’ve seen a 24-hour bug in action, I think I’ll stick with the slow-burning kind that doesn’t turn its hosts into biological geysers.
If we had to guess where Evan and Kara picked up the bug, the safest bet would be the toddler playland where we took Evan earlier in the weekend.
“We’re taking Evan to a bouncy castle place,” Kara said to her mom over the phone.
“Oooh, those places are full of germs,” her mom replied, and Kara passed that information along to me.
“Aw, c’mon, germs are nothing to be afraid of,” I said, hours before the projectile vomiting began.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure Evan would still do the entire weekend over again. He spent hours inside the toddlers’ bounce house, laughing, screaming and running full tilt into the walls. That’s pretty much what he does at home anyway, but it turns out to be much more fun when the walls are inflatable.
By the time we left, he’d had so much fun that I think he would gladly sign up for another severe gastrointestinal event to do it all again. But if it does all happen again, I think we’ll either swear off bouncy castles forever or put Evan inside a giant hamster ball before rolling him across the drawbridge.
The next morning, everyone was feeling better, and our house had the slow, moaning and groaning vibe of a frat house after a great party. Kara and I had just survived the kind of night that you know you’re signing up for when you become a parent, and which gradually becomes part of family lore. Perhaps most importantly, though, we learned that having a night to remember is best left for people without kids.