Last week everyone was sick. Not me. Not my wife. Not our 12-year-old son. But everyone else.
According to my wife, it’s “kill” or “be killed.”
“Stay away from the germs,” she told me.
One time she heard I was in the same room with someone who had the flu.
“Were you wearing those clothes?” she asked. “Take ‘em off. Throw ‘em in the wash. Use bleach. Not just on the clothes—shower with it, too. Gargle with it.”
My wife is queen of hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and Lysol, which, by the way, only kills 99.9 percent of the germs, leaving 0.1 percent of germs in the wild.
“Listen,” I said to my wife when she was spraying down the house with Lysol like she was trying to replace the air with it, “that 0.1 percent is gonna breed other Lysol-resistant germs, and one day all the germs of the world will be supergerms and we’ll all die because Lysol won’t work on them.”
Didn’t help my case. My wife added a Febreze chaser to the atmosphere. Breathing was optional.
Last Friday I coughed. Not chronically, just one little cough. But in this “sick people apocalypse” we’re living in, my wife made sure I drank a glass of Emergen-C to fight potential germs.
“It’s allergies,” I told her as I gulped down the drink. Glug glug glug. “Worst-case scenario.”
“Looks and sounds like a cold to me,” she said.
“I have a headache, congestion and I feel nauseous,” I told her. “That’s allergies.”
“You blame everything on allergies.”
“That’s because they’re all-encompassing.”
“You should lay down anyway,” she suggested.
She set me up in our bedroom with blankets, tissue, a nearby trashcan, beverages and the TV remote. She closed the blinds, gave me a night light in the bathroom and said she loved me. She’s so caring.
Then she slammed the door shut. I listened to my son secure the door from the outside with his bike lock as my wife taped off the outside of the room with her quarantine area barricade tape.
“I don’t have a cold,” I shouted. “Put that quarantine tape away. Let me out of here.”
“Dad,” my boy yelled from outside the room, “it’s for our own protection. Colds are contagious from roughly about a week before you get them. That means even if you don’t feel anything right now, you might be harboring a virus and you might be sharing it with your wife and son. We’ve got to be cautious.”
“Where’d you hear that?” I said. “Oh, wait, I forgot, you’re 12—you just know everything.”
“No, I’m supposed to know almost everything. In July when I become a teenager, then you can say I know everything.”
“Sweetie,” my wife called from the other side of the door somewhere in our house.
“Cover your mouth.”
“Not like it’s getting outside my quarantine area,” I said, and then I blew my nose.
“Sweetie,” she called again.
“Make sure you wash your hands after blowing your nose.”
I blew my nose so many times it was blood red. I washed my hands so many times they matched.
It was a long, lonely Friday night. The next morning, I woke up to the sound of my son telling me from the other side of the bedroom door that he was going to let me out. He’s the kid, I’m the dad, and he’s going to let me out? What did I do to deserve such a treat?
“Just wait till we leave the house before opening the door,” he told me.
Lucky me. My loving wife and child ditched me and went to my sister-in-law’s place for the weekend. But they so thoughtfully left me everything I needed—meals, tissue, love notes and, of course, hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap and Lysol. I was stranded at home like Tom Hanks in “Cast Away.”
I really did have a cold. It wasn’t allergies like I thought. I fought the good fight, and by Sunday, when my family returned, I was better. Good as new.
Now it’s a new week and still everyone is sick. Even my wife. Even our son. They came home carrying germs. And they got me sick. Again! Everyone—and I really mean everyone—is sick.
This story originally appeared in The Acorn Newspapers of Los Angeles and Ventura counties, CA, in February of 2016. You can find other stories like it from Michael Picarella in his book, “Everything Ever After (Confessions of a Family Man),” and at MichaelPicarellaColumn.com.