Back when the Big-Eyed Boy was still a cuddly toddler, one of his favorite books to read was Dr. Seuss’ Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo!. You know, the story about how a bug’s sneeze sets off a long, improbable chain of events with global ramifications? Only, my son — who was still cute as a bug himself back then — would stop me after the first couple of pages, spreading his chubby hands out to prevent me from continuing the story.
“Mommy, do you know what really happens when a bug sneezes?” he’d ask. And I, although I’d heard his version a dozen times already, would shake my head. “When a bug sneezes on the other side of the world,” he’d squeal with glee, “YOU get sick!” Sadly, he’s not all that wrong.
It irritates my friends and family, but the reality is that I catch just about everything. Colds, flus, viruses, you name it — if there’s a person anywhere near me who’s been anywhere near a sick person themselves, I’ll come down with whatever that distant stranger had. It’s all but inevitable, even if I practically bathe in Purell after being in public, take more vitamins than a 70s health guru, and consume a produce stall’s worth of fruits and vegetables each week. I. Just. Get. Sick.
And I hate it.
It’s not just that I hate being sick — though I do, especially now that I’m a mom since “Mommy’s sick” really means no one’s going to lift a finger to do a damn thing around the house because that’s all my work, so the place just goes to hell in a hand-basket until I drag my phlegm-filled, feverish self out of bed to feed the starving cat, pick up my son’s dirty underwear from the kitchen floor, remind my husband that we do NOT use the kitchen sponge to clean our tennis shoes, and defrost some frozen dinner I’d stashed in the freezer in anticipation of days just like this. (And if you’re thinking that perhaps the reason I’m continually sick is due to my family’s horrifying inability to comprehend sanitation basics, let me just say the same thing’s dawned on me, but good luck trying to convince them that the germ theory of disease isn’t really a theory.)
So. I’ve been sick in bed since sometime on Tuesday. I don’t remember much of that day except that I had a long To Do list, much of which revolved around my daughter, who’d come home to earn college spending money by cleaning my house. Three hours after she’d started cleaning, I was on the sofa, sick as a dog, except when I was in the bathroom being equally sick. My first thought was how VH shares an office with a man whose live-in girlfriend just got over what they’ve been calling “the grunge”, some malady that lasted close to three weeks. Maybe he’d brought the germs home somehow? But, after comparing symptoms, I learned she hadn’t been camping out in their bathroom with her head in a toilet, so clearly, it wasn’t the same thing. I chalked it up to yet another weird bug I’d managed to pick up somewhere and got on with the business of puking my guts out.
Meanwhile, I kept mentally blessing my daughter for having just cleaned the bathroom right before I got so very, terribly sick. Seriously, there are few things more miserable than hanging your head in a toilet that smells, well, like a toilet. Okay, finally getting a chance to catch your breath and looking up to find that you’ve been resting your forehead on a crap- and urine-splattered toilet rim is pretty damn miserable, too. It’s also been known to prompt even more puking, just when you thought you couldn’t possibly hurl one more chunk.
So I was glad — so very, very glad — that my oldest child, my responsible daughter, my sweet angel who’d initially come up with the idea of cleaning my house in exchange for pocket money had, in fact, cleaned house so I didn’t have to. I was glad for a minty fresh toilet in which to puke, and for the knowledge that once I stopped puking I wouldn’t find my house filth-riddled and in need of my immediate attention.
Which is why this morning, when I finally felt well enough to shuffle to the kitchen, I was shocked — shocked, I tell you! — that I didn’t find two yowling, starving cats or my son’s dirty underwear or a grime-riddled sponge left by VH to float amid the detritus of last night’s dinner. They’d kept the house clean! I didn’t have to jump into action! I could finish recovering, rather than wearing myself out!
Or, at least, that’s what I thought until I found the pile of cleaning rags my daughter had used to clean house while she was here. Filthy rags. Rags from the bathroom, rags from the kitchen, rags she’d used to scrub the laundry room floor near the cats’ litter box. Rags, I was horrified to see, which she’d piled right on top of the non-used cleaning rags. The very same clean rags I’ve taught VH and the Big-Eyed Boy to use to wipe up messes instead of using the kitchen sponge or my dish towels. Then, thinking back, I realized they’d been there the last time she’d cleaned, and the time before that. In fact, I’d assumed all this time that she had been washing the cleaning rags along with all of her laundry that she does whenever she comes home.
Silly sick, tired, incredibly irritated and disgusted me, who must now clean — and disinfect — the house from top to bottom.
Not that it will keep me from getting sick again, I’m sure.