Oct 29

It’s that time of the year; it’s the dreaded flu season.  Most of my life, I have been able to avoid the flu.  I guess I must have been blessed with an unusually healthy immune system… that is until this year.  I guess approaching 40 means a rapid decrease in the ability to be immune.  As I write this post, my entire family is touched by the flu (except for my oldest son, who seems to have inherited the immune system of my youth.)

Now, usually when one or more of the kids is sick, my wife provides the nurturing care  necessary for the boys to find their way back to full health.  It’s not that I don’t like to help, it’s just that… you know… oh, who am I kidding… I don’t like to help.  I love my boys, but I’m a guy.  I hate dealing with whining, I loath the thought of catching something from them, and cleaning up puke in the middle of the night will, in each and every instance, lead to me puking myself!

Well, with our current bout with the flu, my wife has it pretty bad, and so does our 6 year-old.  The wife has to take care of him all day, so I have relented and agreed to watch after him at night (he’s usually too fevered to whine and I’m already sick, so I ain’t gonna catch what I already got.)  Yes, there has been the cleaning-of-the-puke at around 2 in the morning for much of this week, but, being sick myself, I find that I feel somewhat better after the puking that follows the cleaning-of-the-puke of my son, so it all works out.

I do want to point out that giving chocolate to a sick child before bed when that child is likely to throw up at night and that child has a light colored carpet in his room is not a good idea.  The first night it was Oreos, and it took a fair amount of bleach and a more than fair amount of elbow-grease to get the black sludge out of the carpet.

“Did you give the boy chocolate before bed last night?” I asked the wife the next morning.

“He had some Oreos,” she replied.  “Why?”

“Well, chocolate puke is hard to clean up…”

“He was hungry, and I’m sick, and the Oreos were handy, so sue me!”

“Not a big deal,” I whispered, ending the conversation.

The next night, a second volley of black ooze from the bowels of hell, more bleach (thank God for synthetic-fibered carpet), and more elbow grease.

The next morning, I sheepishly asked my wife about the boys before-bed snack.

“He helped himself to a Rice Krispie treat from the snack cabinet.”

Together we walked into his room and checked his garbage can.  There, in the center of a pile of disgustingly-used Kleenexes rested the bright blue metallic wrapper of one CHOCOLATE Rice Krispie treat.

“Ok, fine, I’ll pay more attention to what he eats before bed!” my wife assured me.

The next night, the puke was relatively clear.  Cleaning up this night’s puke was a joy, because I could feel the love of my wife in the work.

The next morning, I noticed a melted, untouched ice cream sandwich on a plate on the dining room table… an ice cream sandwich with vanilla ice cream and CHOCOLATE wafers.

“Uh, what’s this,” I asked the wife while pointing at the melted black and white glob of waste on the plate.

“Oh, that was the boy’s before-bed snack last night,” she said.  “Guess he didn’t want it.  Why?”

“Never mind…”

Last night was a nice night for the boy and I.  He did not puke.  He fell asleep on the the living room couch, so I slept awhile in the recliner.  He looked so peaceful on the couch that I didn’t want to move him.  We both woke up a couple of hours later with fevers.  I felt quite chilled.  I decided I would carry him to his bed and give him some Tylenol.  As soon as I picked him up, I could feel the fevered-warmth radiating from his tiny body; it felt good.

After placing him in his bed, I begrudgingly turned to get the boy his Tylenol.

“Dad,” his weak voice whispered.

“Yeah, Buddy.”

“Will you lay with me for awhile?”

“I love you, Son,” I said as I snuggled up with his little radiator of a body.

We both fell asleep for who knows how long.  When I finally woke up, my fever was gone and his was at an all-time high.  Feeling like a horrible parent (yet strangely comfortable), I went to get the boy his Tylenol.

Now that flu season actually has an impact on me personally, I have come to realize that I may need to work on my sensitivity.  I have also learned that I may need to, during this time of the year, remove all traces of chocolate from the house.

Well, I think I better wrap this post up.  I can feel my fever coming back and the chills are really kicking in.  I skipped giving the boy his Tylenol before bed.  I got me a “heated” bed with a Cars comforter, a ton of stuffed animals, and not much spare room calling my name

Oct 07

I remember growing up in a small Montana town.  I remember a small Montana town without a McDonald’s.  I remember, on any trip that my family took, eating out at McDonald’s and a trip to McDonald’s being an exquisite experience!  We would each order two fat-encrusted hamburger patties slathered in mounds of special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and onions served on a whimsical sesame seed-encrusted bun and enclosed in magic Styrofoam castles!  With this magical burger, inside the “to go” sack that contained the wonderful burgers and their irresistible deep-fat fried french fry counterparts, rested a seemingly-endless pile of small packets of ketchup!  A fry not covered in a conspicuous covering of the wondrous tomato-sugar mixture was not worthy of finding its way to your mouth.  I remember that, after a trip to McDonald’s, my mom would not purchase ketchup for several weeks because we would rely on the small packets of  ketchup from McDonald’s to provide our ketchup needs for several weeks after a visit to the restaurant chain :)

Flash forward to the year 2009.  You are going through the drive-through at your local McDonald’s is an effort to provide sustenance for your body in an extremely rushed environment.  You order a burger and fries and, most likely, some form of liquid refreshment.  You pay at the first window in a clinical manner not reminiscent of your youth… you pull up at the second window and are hurriedly handed a grease-spotted bag containing the magical food-items ordered a few moments previously at the large order-stand at the back of your local restaurant… you drive away in a rush to get home and enjoy this meal in a friendly environment.  Often, you will reach your hand inside the warm, moist bag to pull forth a limp fry.  This fry will make it to your mouth… and, even more satisfying, your stomach… and in the front of your mind you are thinking about how good that burger will taste when you get home… and how good that piece of deep-fried potato will be with a little KETCHUP!!!  And then you get home and… guess what… you forgot to ask for the STINKING KETCHUP… SO YOU HAVE NO STINKING KETCHUP!!!

Oh sure, you may have some ketchup in the fridge, but that just isn’t the same.  The ketchup in the fridge is cold, and you had to purchase it seperate from the McDonald’s food… and purchased cold ketchup just doesn’t seem to go quite right with fast food.  You need those little packets of ketchup that have been heated by resting against the heat-lamp-warmed food in the greasy bag on the ride home.

You can’t tell me that McDonald’s doesn’t take into account the cost of ketchup when they price their products!  They budget a certain amount of those little bags for each customer for each purchase.  So, when you go to McDonald’s and forget to ask for the ketchup, they are literally RIPPING YOU OFF!  When you consider that there are even some freaks out there who do not partake of the ketchup while enjoying their fries, then you really start to get enraged.  There are people who don’t take full advantage of what they are paying for and yet the staff at McDonald’s is still now being trained to not give me my stinking ketchup unless I ask for it?!?  What’s next… the drink that comes with the “value” meal?  You get home and realize they didn’t give you your Diet Coke (’cause we all know that a McDonald’s meal is a healthy choice as long as you order a Diet Coke).  You will have to turn around and go back to the restaurant.  Can’t you hear the response already:

“Well, you didn’t ask for it, so I didn’t think you wanted it.”

Ok, so let’s say you aren’t brain-dead like me and you actually remember to ask for the ketchup at the drive-through window.  They don’t ask you how much you would like; instead, they look and rummage around for a good 20 – 30 seconds (as if no one ever asks for ketchup and you have just interrupted the magical flow that makes fast food fast).  When they finally find the hidden vault of the nightshade-delight, they reach in and grab what looks like a large handful of the wonderous packets.  They shove them in the bag (in an apparent attempt to wedge as many of them as possible in between the actual fries) and throw the bag in your general direction.  Apparently asking for ketchup makes you somewhat of a nuisance.  The really strange thing is, when you finally get home, you discover that large handful of packets that appeared to be placed into your bag is actually only four packets.  Four (4) packets!  Four packets is not enough to get me through a small bag of fries let alone the super-sized version that I let the fancy graphics on the stinking drive-through order-stand talk me into!  You would think the amount of time and money that McDonald’s apparently spends on training its employees the make-it-look-like-a-handful-while-only-grabbing-four-bags technique could be better utilized by, oh, I don’t know… GIVING US AN ACTUAL HANDFUL!?!

I blame my addiction… er… normal, healthy attachment to ketchup on McDonalds!  They are like the drug dealer that used to hook you up with the crank for free, until you got addicted, and now expect you to pay for it.  Ok, they really aren’t like a drug dealer selling crank… maybe more like sex and marriage.  At first, you get as much as you want, so you become quite fond of it.  Over the years, you get less and less until it gets to a point where you actually have to beg for it… or so I’ve been told by people in less-than-perfect marriages unlike my own marriage which has been, as of tommorrow, 15 years of perfection!  Yes, my wife reads my blog :)

At McDonald’s, the staff has no problem asking if you would like to purchase anything else before the transaction is completed; the correct thing to do would be to ask if you would like ketchup with those fries.  After all… one way or another… you’ve already paid for it!

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