I’m just getting over the stomach bug and i feel like a new human. but oh the torture.
I left work early on Friday feeling like a cement block had taken up real estate underneath my rib cage and a pitcher of water had settled on top of my brain. A few waves of nausea later, words were swimming off my computer screen and so i peaced. I knew what was coming. I hate the stomach virus. loathe. i’ll stay at work pretty much under any other sick circumstances but when it comes to the digestive tract, peace out. you don’t want me there and i don’t want me there.
I tell most people, including myself, that I haven’t had the stomach bug since third grade, but I know that’s not true. I like to think I have the constitution of a horse (which I hear is great), but if I think real hard I know I’ve had it at least 4 times since then. The reason third grade sticks out in my mind is because I witnessed a situation which traumatized me forever. We all know that those years leave indelible impressions on us for the rest of our lives and definitely through the rest of 3rd grade. Here’s the skinny:
Her name was Regina Brown. She was a quiet girl with a soft smile and almond skin. I remember she always had these crazy braids in her hair which were tied back with those elastics with the bright plastic balls on the ends. She sat next to me in Mrs. Austin’s class at Annapolis Area Christian School. You stayed in one class the entire school day and at this time of day we were just finishing up our reading exercise. Let me pause right here for a hot minute and tell you that this was my absolute favorite time of day. I was the fastest reader (besides Chad Klakring who 1: was a showoff and 2: i had a crush on) and I’m pretty sure I could get through a paragraph or two without taking a breath. Anyway.
So we were reading and there I am buzzing through some story at mach 3 and Regina’s looking oddly pale and I can sense her fidgeting next to me but here I go I’m reading and I’m almost done my part and then I’m done and we all get to go to the water fountains so we line up. We line up and Regina’s behind me and I’m anxious because she’s awful quiet and it’s a different kind of quiet than her usual sweet shyness. She looked frightened. Walking up to the fountain amidst the jabber of antsy children and time suddenly slowed. I look behind me in time to see Regina fold her hands to her face as if making a cradle and positively upchuck an exorbitant amount of bright orange (think Hi-C?) through her hands. Throw up. All down next to me. The hall went silent. It was so foreign suddenly in this new space. In my experience these things happened at home, in the bathroom or - in the unfortunate timing of events - on the way to the bathroom. But never in school. We were horrified. Suddenly there was Mrs. A. ushering poor Regina to the girl’s room. We didn’t see Regina for the rest of the week. When she came back, and even till this day, I associate her and the stomach virus with the mental image of her in that hallway and the mortified look on her face and the uselessness of her hand bucket.
I could tell you the other less-gross story of how, in 8th grade, I went through a phase of having my dad drive me to school behind the bus for the entire route (which Mary still got on every morning) for no apparent reason other than the off-chance that the stomach bug would suddenly occur and I would be stuck on the bus and have to use a hand bucket, like Regina. This lasted about a month. My poor father. There are other stories - mostly from 8th grade since I think that was my "weird year" where I thought I caught every disease known to man. We'll talk about that over coffee sometime.
Today, I feel much better. I'm grown up and I took care of myself and I feel good about it. Fortunately for me, every circumstance thus far has had me safe in the privacy of my own home. But don't think Regina didn't cross my mind in my weakest hour: She did. And I can't help but laugh at the lasting impression a water fountain break made on me twenty-two years ago, and how it has affected the way I view the flu.
(I also haven’t been able to look at water fountains the same way since, but it doesn’t bother me nearly as much)