Dangerspouse Rides Again

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Garage - Track

Nov. 19, 2003 - 8:10 a.m.

NewWifey(tm) and I have slightly different methods of coping with illness.

I'm borne and bred in New Jersey, Ground Zero of the Effete East. If I should dent a cuticle during a manicure I fall stricken onto the nearest divan with an ice pack on my head and a thermometer up my butt. And then I call my lawyer. God forbid I should develope a nagging cough; that morning will find me on a plane to Atlanta, banging on the doors of the CDC minutes after we land.

Meanwhile NewWifey(tm) comes from hardy Midwestern stock. These are the women who head out to plow the north forty an hour after giving birth while milking the goats. Lose an arm in the thresher? Grab the sewing kit and re-attach it Missy, like Mamma showed you. That hay ain't gonna bail itself. Yep, it's "Give Me Work, or Give Me Death" out there.

Needless to say then, NewWifey(tm) does not call out sick to work, as her many co-workers who've contracted flu, Pink Eye, Mono, etc., courtesy of her dogged appearances will attest. I mean, this is a girl who once scheduled a laproscopy during her lunch hour. So imagine my suprise yesterday when she called me and said she was leaving work at 8am sick, just an hour after arriving.

This could only mean one thing: the final, messy stages of Ebola. I drove home trying to recall what it was she wanted done with her ashes. I braced for the worst as I opened the front door.

I found NewWifey(tm) in the kitchen clad in coveralls and a painter's cap, building new shelves for the cupboard with lumber she'd purchased on her way home.

"Uh, honey? Shouldn't you be...y'know...dying?"

She whirled on me.

"Those bastards sent. Me. Home!!"

She was raspy and hoarse, like she'd swallowed a pallet of 6-grit sandpaper. Her florid cheeks and impressive sweat production showed she was probably ignoring a temperature of a hundred and four.

"They told me that after showing up with SARS last time I was not to put any other workers' lives in peril if I wasn't feeling well. Dammit, I'm not..." she collapsed on one knee and began hacking up a pancreas.

I let her stay there gasping for air as I set up blankets and pillows on the recliner.

"Get those fucking 'sick sheets' off the recliner and stay the hell out of my way! If you want me to feel better, make me some lunch."

I pulled some chicken stock from the deep freeze and made ready to whip up a batch of Jewish Penicillin.

"Goddam it, I said LUNCH! Chicken soup is for people who are sick - make me guacamole!"

Guacamole, huh? At least it color coordinates with her face. I knocked open a couple of avacados, mixed 'em with celantro, cumin, lime, etc., and made some corn tortilla batter for homemade chips. A half hour later I set the platter before her, and a barf bag beside her. Bless her stomach though - food does NOT escape her, at least not from that end. Midwestern thrift, you know.

By noon she was back to building shelves, keeping busy lest the shame of idle hands overcome her. At three she took a break for some sausage and peppers, and diarrhea. Her one concession to the wracking cough and fever was a Bayer Children's Aspirin. She knocked off at seven, as we had no more cupboards in the house that could be modified by then. We're talking bevelled edges, stain, the works.

I finally convinced her to sit and watch some TV, since that's what she'd normally be doing anyway at that hour. I get the feeling that she did it grudgingly, like she was conceding some small measure of defeat to the microbes. When she got up to use the bathroom the back and seat of the recliner were soaked from sweat.

I have no idea if she made it to work this morning, since I leave in the middle of the night. I made her promise she'd stay home if she felt the same today, since they'd just escort her back to her car after driving all that way anyway. But I know how she is. Unless her right foot has been amputated, she's gonna use it to stomp the accelerator and get back to plowing the north forty.

Ok, works over and I gotta scoot. I get to go home now and find out if some member of the Weaker Sex is building me a new armoire....

Stay well, kids!

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