As you will recall, last week I had an impromptu Cheetos and Wine party to try to decide which chapter of my book I would read aloud of readings. (Once again, I will pause while the few sluggards out there who haven’t bought it yet click here on order to complete the sale: Mismatched Shoes & Upside Down Pizza) My friends came over, along with a few of my children’s friends (my book is G rated, by the way, thoroughly vetted by a friend whose idea of strong language is “dangit!” and who cringed in horror at the chapter about my son’s obsession with flatulence) and we ate Cheetos and actual cheese and drank our varieties of grape juice before the reading began.
My husband Mike is usually a wanderer, hence his nickname “Waldo,”and can’t stay put in a room. So it didn’t shock me at all when he walked out of the back door during the party carrying a spotlight and a stick, announcing that he was going to ‘chase turkeys.’ It did surprise some of my friends who weren’t that familiar with him, and when they crunched their eyebrows together to make that “What the ……….?????” face, I just rolled my eyes towards the attic and shook my head. Seriously, don’t ask me about the stupid wild turkeys spotted in the back yard and which chased my son in a drama he swears “nearly killed” him, despite the fact that they have leeeeeeetle bitty legs, can’t fly well, and my son used to run track. Not well, mind you, but he did manage to run well enough not to embarrass himself.
Most of the time, I think I’m a pretty good wife. I mean, I’m not Donna Reed or Mrs. Cleaver or anything, I don’t have dinner waiting when he gets home, or vacuum with my pearls on. Not that those things necessarily define a good wife these days anyway, if they ever did. But I am loyal, I take care of him when he is sick, and generally don’t give him half the grief he deserves. But I really dropped the ball last Saturday night.
At some point Mike came back in from the Great Turkey Adventure, and pulled me aside with an, “I need to talk to you” spoken with quite some seriousness and urgency. I excused myself, followed him into our bedroom, where he promptly stripped off his shirt to show me that he was covered in hives. “I’m reacting to something,” he said.
“No duh,” I said, helpfully. “What is it?”
“I don’t know.”
“Take a Benadryl,” I said and then walked back into the living room to be hostess to my guests. This sort of thing happens on rare occasions to him, and Benadryl generally clears it up, so I didn’t think I was being terribly unsympathetic. I went on and read my chapters, my friends and I debated the reactions of the room to the readings, and we made a decision. (If you want to know what I decided, you’ll just have to invite me to your book club/church group/community service organization/etc.) I went back to check on Mike. I stuck my head in the bedroom. “Are you ok?” I called. “YeaBLURGHHHHH!” I heard, and I felt my own bile rising dangerously in my throat. Between heaves, I understood that he had taken two tablespoons of some Ipecac in an effort to rid himself of whatever was triggering the reaction. Expired Ipecac. But, he figured, what harm could Ipecac that expired during the first Gulf War do? Would it make you not throw up?
I’m not good with bodily fluids of any kind. I’m just not good with that. I used to be better about it when my children were babies. There was nothing that leaked out of their very leaky bodies that I wouldn’t handle with aplomb. That includes the time when my one year old son was sitting on my lap to try on shoes at Stride Rite and he suddenly hurled and my instinct was to cup my hands in front of his mouth to catch it all so as to save the carpeting and furniture in the store. (I did by the way, which then led to some interesting logistical questions, such as how to get the crying, sick baby off my lap without spilling, and what to do with the contents in my hands while making the least amount of mess possible and not causing anyone else to join in.)
So, given the fact that there really wasn’t anything useful for me to do, and the last thing we needed was both grownups who lived in the house tossing cookies around the bathroom while we had company, I said, “tell me if you need anything,” and went back to my friends. I checked on him periodically and extremely briefly. I’m pretty sure he purged himself of a lunch he ate while JFK was still president, and the heaving lasted well into the night. The hives went down before the guests left, and so I went to bed at my normal time, under the theory that there was nothing I could do for him, as his hair is short and I don’t need to hold it out of the way for him, and our kids needed at least one functional parent, which wasn’t going to be the case if I stayed in the room with him.
I have since learned that they neither manufacture nor sell Ipecac anymore.
So yeah. I was a pretty lousy wife that night. But I think he’s forgiven me, even if he won’t eat Cheetos anymore.