(A) Larry is home on summer vacation.
(B) Gus is home with strep throat.
If (B) is true, then that makes
(B) Larry a bitter man
(C) The house a disaster area
(D) All of the above
Larry called me at work with updates at the top of every hour.
"He makes noise even when he's standing absolutely still with his mouth closed," he'd whisper, holding the phone out. "Listen. You can hear him buzzing."
When I got home for lunch, our house looked like Sichuan Province. Lego buildings and block towers lay in ruin, fire trucks and rescue vehicles were scattered across the floor, there was red Gatorade on the rug, six half-drunk cups of juice on the counter, half a cookie here, a popsicle stick there, several small blocks of cheese in the bathroom, books, CDs, DVDs, harmonicas, shoes, train tracks, crayons ... no dead bodies (that I could see) ... but still.
And this is when the kid is sick.
Where, you might ask, was Larry when all this was happening?
If I had to guess, he was cowering in the closet beneath the stairs crying. And who can blame him? Do we expect the farmer to watch as the tornado rips the roof off his barn, scattering his shrieking livestock across the plains?
Better to survey the damage once it's done.
If only it were ever done. A tornado comes and goes. But Gus lives in our house. And his is a mighty, willful, force.
And did I mention willful? The reason I went home for lunch in the first place was because it takes a minimum of two able-bodied adults to give that boy a teaspoon of antibiotic. One to sit on his legs, pin his arms, and plug his nose until he opens his mouth. And one to lock his head in a vice-grip between their knees, while inserting the medicine syringe as far down his throat as possible. The doctor told us how to do it.
It's a hideous sight to behold. One that sends our blood pressure skyward (THREE TIMES A DAY, FOR TEN DAYS) until all the medicine (and domestic accord) is completely gone. But what else can we do? We want the kid to live, right?
At least he bounces back fast. He'll be all, "YOU ARE A BAD MOMMY; YOU ARE A BAD DADDY!" sob, sob, point, sob, "I DIDN'T WANT THAT MEDICINE! I HATE IT!" choke, sob, kick, sob, shake fists in rage, "YOU ARE VERY BAD PEOPLE! Have you seen my fire truck with the detachable ladder?"
So once we had all calmed down, I ate my salad and started flipping through the West Elm catalog.
It's one thing to show pictures of immaculate, color-coordinated spaces with unblemished furniture and neatly stacked towers of interesting coffee table books. But West Elm takes it too far. They quote real people on their pages. Real people, with jobs like "Organic Gardener." (Are there other kinds of gardeners?) Real people who actually get to live in such magical places, among the coffee tables with no teeth marks.
It was more than I could stand.
I had to go clean something. (Such is the nature of my mental illness). With eleven minutes of my lunch hour remaining, I scrubbed the kitchen, fantasizing about being married to a nice gay man named Tidy. Once the kitchen was almost clean, Larry (bless his heart) walked in and said, "Oh, I'll do that."
Someday, my love. I'm sure you will. But right now, Dorothy, you best take cover! I'm going back to work, and I think another storm's a comin'.