Thursday, September 11, 2008

Getting to Feel Free and Easy.

Just for fun, let us pretend that you are all me.

If you feel the need to get deeply into character, I suggest you spill something on your shirt and start fixating on something inadvertently offensive you might have said to someone six months ago. Good, now you’re me. And many years ago you meet a guy and you fall madly in love. Yes, you’ve cared for other men before, but this is different. This guy, he’s something special and you’re completely captivated. He’s the smartest, kindest, most wonderful man you’ve ever met. You find the way he rolls up his sleeves strikes you as witty; his ability to make pasta Putanesca speaks to his depth of character; his relationship with New Yorker magazines is an adorable quirk. You get to know him better, and you only love him more. Years pass and you have a child, and he is a wonderful father. You love this man very much. But now, sometimes you manifest this love by being convinced that he’s sneezing just to annoy you.

Consort and I were battling something last week. I know it was allergies because neither of us had a fever, Consort thinks it was a cold because he’s wrong. I carried around my asthma inhaler like it was my very own American Girl broncho-dilator and Consort sneezed. The first time he sneezed, all living members of the family jumped about four inches; the fish didn’t jump but it did look startled. I said “Bless you” in a sympathetic way, as I did the next four times he sneezed. After that, I descended to mumbling “Ble-ya” every sixth sneeze or so. And then I tried covering my growing lack of compassion in his sneezing by being attentive.


“Can I get you some Kleenex?”

“No, I’m not congested, just sneezing. But thanks.”

“Oh. Okay.”


“Maybe you should take a shower? That helps me when my allergies are acting up.”

“Yeah, I just took one, it didn’t seem to help. That’s because it’s a cold.”

“I’m telling you, it’s al-“



”How about a Benadryl?”

“No, it doesn’t help.”


Doesn’t help.”





“You must be so uncomfortable.”

“Actually, it feels great.”


And that is how you, Quinn, ended up cleaning out the trunk of the car at 10:30 at night. Because sitting in the garage refreshing the car emergency kit was less aggravating than listening to Consort have involuntary responses which he was totally doing on purpose.

And then there’s Daughter, who was not sneezing. She was eating. “Why, of course she was eating,” you might protest, “Did you think children got their calories from the air?”

Well no, although I do know a few children I have not actually ever seen eat, and their mothers insist they are living on the particulates of Pirate’s Booty which hover over any elementary school. Daughter’s eating habits force one to resort to Animal Planet analogies: Daughter is to eating as a shark is to swimming; both must happen continuously or the animal dies. Here’s another animal analogy: Daughter, much like a hummingbird, eats up to five hundred times her own weight every day.

Like the hummingbird, no one particular meal is large, but they make up for it by allotting nearly all their waking hours acquiring food. If someone asked me what she ate for breakfast, I’d have to ask which one. The breakfast when she first wakes up or the one an hour or so later or the one when she can scarcely contemplate making it to lunch without a little sustenance? Since she and I rarely eat meat, a great many of these meals involve lentils or pinto beans, which are supposed to be filling. It humbles me to think that those complex carbohydrates are the only thing standing between my daughter and having to have an IV line inserted to keep her feeling full. I can’t fault her instincts, because her energy level would exhaust a team of ferrets and she’s shaped like an arrow.

And this child, the child of the man I adore beyond measure and will be avoiding until he stops that infernal sneezing, this child I stared at for hours on end as an infant and thought things like “I have never loved anyone as deeply and fully as I love you, even your father whom I adore beyond measure”, this child now gets a mother who says supportive things like “You want to eat again?” and “Oh, come on. The bean-heating pot isn’t even dry yet...” and “I’m convinced you have a tape-worm.” And sometimes I go hide from both of them for a while. And then later, when they are sleeping and not sneezing or angling for an entire jar of applesauce, I come into the bedrooms and I pet their heads and I hope they know that the annoyance is nothing more than a storm cloud passing through, the sky behind it eternally and endlessly blue.


Blogger Leta said...

One time I had a sneezing fit in a grocery store and the Very Good Friend who was with me tried a couple of "God Bless You"s and then switched over to saying very loudy "Stop that! People are staring at you! You're creating a scene!" At which point I was sneezing and giggling which ain't easy.

Good luck.

1:55 PM  
Blogger SavtaDotty said...

Speak roughly to your little boy,
And beat him when he sneezes:
He only does it to annoy,
Because he knows it teases.

So sang the Dutchess in Alice in Wonderland. This is no help whatsoever when it comes to husbands, I admit.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh my my my aside from rarely eating meat and having a daughter you and I sound very similar. Terry my boyfriend can sneeze for about half an hour. Until him I thought people only sneeze 3x period. He averages roughly 30X. I only get annoyed. Then, and oh brother does this make me ineligible for boyfriend of the year. Two years ago he got MRSA. I tended to him doted on and fawned all over him until he got better, This spring he got it again. I got angry and felt inconvenienced. I am sure it is safe to say that was where any similarity you and I may have ceased. By the way queue up where I now fixate on even having hit the "publish this comment" button.

5:29 PM  
Blogger BiPolar Wife said...

In this scene, I shall play the role of "Incessant Sneezer," a part I was born to play. The role of husband will be played by husband. Mine, hopefully.

Me: (First sneeze) "Achoo!"

Husband..."oh no..."

Me: "A..A...ACHOO!"

Husband: "God ble...."


Thank you. I will be here all week.

7:03 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

I usually sneeze in sequences of 5 (I once knew someone who sneezed in 10's) and if people continually bless me, I tell them, "Keep those coming; I can use all the blessings I can get!"

8:09 PM  
Blogger Valerie said...

sneezing, no. coughing, yes. and the Husband's coughing would turn a saint into a raving lunatic.

or make me just want to hug his face with a pillow.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

ah, the 5 of us in our hippie commune are all having some kind of sneezing fits for the last week. we seem to pass the baton pretty well. damn l.a. air.

9:51 PM  
Blogger Skerrib said...

I know that sneeze. Usually my husband's sneezes are perfectly acceptable. When he's not sneaking in cusswords like a 4th grader that is. But the shrill, loud one--it startled our son so much he cried.

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sneezes feel like orgasms! Think about it.. the build up, the climax, the after-shudder, and the,, er,, cleanup! Of course Consort was refusing meds!

11:16 AM  
Blogger Elan Morgan said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:

11:59 AM  
Blogger Elan Morgan said...

You are being featured on Five Star Friday:

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And then there's the unblievably loud, ear piercing sneeze that he manages when I'm in a deep sleep. Lord save my heart...

5:46 PM  
Blogger J Auclair said...

Once I was riding in a crowded subway car with a friend, and we were both standing and holding lots of packages. I saw her preparing to sneeze, and somehow I found a free hand and held it up in time to block her sneeze. We both looked at each other, stunned.

And this was even before I had kids.

8:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

haha! "Daughter’s eating habits force one to resort to Animal Planet analogies: Daughter is to food as a shark is to swimming; both must happen continuously or else the animal dies."

This is fantastic. I am printing it out and hanging it in my cubicle.

7:42 AM  

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