Monday, January 10, 2011

I Never Did See Telluride

This you should know about me - I have a very weak stomach.  Smells, sounds and the tiniest of grotesque innuendoes can trigger my gag reflex within 2.5 seconds.  I don't do cat boxes.  I avoid dog walking in fear that there might be a pooping incident in a public place where judging eyes would burn with disdain as I gagged and scurried away from the crime scene.  I've never tenderly held a wet cloth on the forehead of a vomiting child.  During my school teacher years, I always sent one of my students trotting to the restroom to check on the wild-eyed child that ran out of the room clutching his mouth.  

Years ago, Oprah had the cast of CSI on her show.  At 3:00 in the afternoon as I was peeling potatoes for dinner, I threw up in the kitchen sink during a clip of an episode in which one of the investigator guys poured some sort of slimy gunk from the boot of a rotting corpse.  From time to time when the boys were in elementary school, my carpool posse would get their kicks by describing in detail the contents of a classmate's upchuck just to see how quick they could register a gag reflex on my nausea meter.  It usually began with a whispered "Watch this!" and  scored the goal with "Ooooh, Dude!  That had to be some of that taco from his plate lunch!"  On more than one occasion, I slammed on my brakes and threatened to make them walk home if they didn't change to a more appropriate topic of discussion.

One of the most mortifying moments of my childhood happened on the last day of school before Christmas break in 5th grade.  That moment is carved into the planes of my memory as permanently as the Gettysburg Address clings to the walls of the Lincoln Memorial.  We were having a spelling bee just before the room mother set out our meager Christmas party food.  A good speller, I went round after round standing proudly in the line that ran along the windows of our classroom under which stood a couple of good old fashioned radiators.   I was wearing the Christmas green corduroy jumper and plaid red and green blouse that my mother made special for the occasion.  

The longer I stood next to that radiant heat, the hotter the corduroy became.  It felt and smelled  like my jumper was being ironed with me in it.  I began to pull my collar away from my neck.  Beads of sweat gathered on my forehead.  "Carolyn, spell 'diary.'  DIE-uh-REE."  "D-I-A-R-Y."  "That is correct!"  As she moved on to the next contestant, IT began in the pit of my stomach mercilessly sending spasms up my gullet.  I took off running to the bathroom in shame with my hands covering my mouth all the while leaving a lovely trail of upchuck and the echo of "EEEEE-UUUUUUUUUs" in my wake.  I never made it back to the bee.  The nurse mercifully sent me and my stained Christmas corduroy jumper home.    

Thank goodness for Alan.  He has an iron gut and the fortitude to match.  One night when Jonathan about two years old, we had Chinese take-out for dinner.  We sat at the dining table thoroughly enjoying our feast of sweet and sour this and moo goo that.  All of a sudden, in toddled Jonathan.  Just as he reached the table, he got a strange look on his face which was followed by a generous spew of chunky matter.  I ran from the room while Alan cleaned up the child and the floor.  I couldn't reinter the room until the smell of carpet cleaner had vanished.  Upon my return, I saw Alan sitting at his place nonchalantly finishing up his stir fried rice like nothing had happened.  I scraped my plate into the sink and said a fond farewell to my dinner as it chugged down the disposal drain.

Our sons are gifted with strong stomaches like their dad's.  Bryce and Jonathan were preschoolers when I became pregnant with Reed.  My morning sickness was fascinating to them.  One afternoon during my last trimester, I ran to my bathroom and knelt before my throne.  I heard little footsteps pounding towards me.  Then, Jonathan's voice chirping, "Hey, Brycie!  Come see!  Mom's froakin' up again!"  Together they stood watching me hurl as if I were a mother cat giving birth to kittens.  At the conclusion of the "show," they skipped back to their Duplo castle unfazed by my prenatal misery. 

My little mother will tell you that my sister, Kathy, was her funniest child, a comment that chaps me to this day.  Kathy was naturally blonde, trim, and precious with beautiful, white teeth.  All I had was "funny."  My distinction?  According to my mother, "When you get a stomach virus, you get sicker than anybody I know."  Yep.  That's me.  The Queen of the Technicolor Yawn.  From time to time Kathy would try to usurp my infamy by describing in detail the time that she had to pick lettuce out of her nostrils after ingesting an undercooked hamburger not made welcome by her digestive tract.  Despite her dramatic gesturing and demonstrating with make-believe tweezers, she never stole my white porcelain crown.   

Which brings me to last week.  The trip to Telluride.  A stomach virus rounded our family members like Mickey Mantle trotted the bases after hittin' one out of the park.   Trot, trot, trot.  First!  Trot, trot, trot.  Second!  Trot, trot, trot.  Third!  First, there was Bryce who succumbed on New Year's Eve.  Two days later, he declared that he was in the clear and ready for the 12 hour drive to the mountains.  Not so much.  Three times during the trip, Alan pulled the car over, Bryce leaned his head out of the car door, and I began to loudly chant "yang, yang, yang, yang" with my thumbs shoved into my ears to block out the sounds of my retching child.

Then, came Reed.  By this time, we had reached our destination.  In our rented condo, there were plenty of places for me to hide out while I called instructions out to Alan.  "Does he have a cool cloth for his forehead?!"  "Take him a little glass of water!"  "Has he had any Pepto Bismol?"  Or, just plain, "Will you go check on Reed?"  "Tell him I'm thinking of him!"

I attributed Reed's illness to the fact that he tends to be a hygiene slacker.  I had been scrubbing my hands obsessively as well as compulsively.  Clean hands worked for a few days.  Then came Tuesday.  I skied with Alan most of the day.  While taking a break at around 2:30, I was struck by that "old familiar feeling."  There I was at Big Billie's, an on-mountain burger joint, which wasn't that far from our place as the crow flies.  But, when you're not a crow, and you're weighted down with skis and poles and boots, you might as well be at an airport with 42 pieces of luggage trying to buy a last minute one-way ticket to DC.  It gets complicated.  Our discussion sounded something like this:

Alan:  I can take the lift, ski down to our place, get the car, come get you, drive you back, then put my skis back on and meet up with Bryce and Reed.

Me:  No, that would be too much trouble.  I'd hate for you to have to do all that.

Alan:  You could try to take the lift up and slowly ski down.

Me (thinking):   Hm.  Yellow snow = somebody peed.  I wonder what they call barf snow.

Me (saying):  No, I don't think I can ski that far just now.

Alan:  How about this?  You take the chondola (chair lift that also has a few gondolas) up to the gondola, then take the gondola up to that parking lot.  From there, you can walk up to our place.  It's only about a half a block.  I'll keep your skis here and come back for them later with one of the boys.

Me:  I can do the chondola-gondola part.  The walking will be questionable.

After considering several the numerous complicated options, we settled on "Chondola-Gondola-Jondola."  Jonathan would be at the ready with the Suburban to cart me to our condo once I tumbled off the gondola.

So, it was on Tuesday that I broke my 4 or 5 year "No Vomit" record in a big, big way.  Because the master suite of our condo was wonderfully secluded from the rest of the rooms, I didn't see actually see the boys again until Thursday when I drug myself up the stairs using the handrails to steady my shaky, dehydrated carcass.  On Friday, I lay on my  bed until the boys came to tell me that it was time to head to Lubbock.  Due to my frailty, I had to totally relinquish control of the packing and loading process.  As I stared out my window at the clock  tower of the grocery store just across the way from our condo, I played the "Worst Case Scenario" game in an effort to convince myself that life would go on if we got home without a pair of ski gloves or the spices I had brought along for the apres ski turkey chili and King Ranch Chicken.  "Just roll with it," I told myself, "We are all alive.  There's no place like home.  What are gloves and spices in the big scheme of life?  Nothing."  

I repeated all of those things numerous times until the boys, at last, came to escort me to my chariot which had been hastily packed to the ceiling with miscellany.  Taking deep, slow breaths, I reminded myself that well-packed, organized stuff can travel the same distance in time and space as a jumble of junk.  Then, I carefully carved out a spot on the floorboard for my two feet to fit amongst the "just in case items" (one bottle of Pepto, a box of saltines, a bottle of Tums) that one of my men had nestled together with my purse, pillow and blankie.  As we drove out of Mountain Village, I realized that not once during our 5 days in the mountains did I see beautiful, historic downtown Telluride.  

I never did see Tell-u-ride.  No Tell-u-ride did I see.  
I saw lots of infomercials on cable TVeeeeeeee!  
But, Tell-u-ride never saw me.  

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