He’s this wild little boy in Jellybean’s class who always has this mischievous grin on his face and insists on touching me every time he sees me — as if we’re playing an imaginary game of Freeze Tag and I’m “IT.”
It’s hard to remember because they’re cute, but these kids are walking, wallowing germ factories. Case in point: I’ve got pink eye, a most malicious malady that I’d hardly even heard of before I found myself routinely surrounded by children.
I blame Hayes Judah for giving it to me, like a tiny Typhoid Mary in a Spider-Man tank top.
I shall overcome, weathering this goopy mess with dignity. Of all the maladies I’ve acquired from Jellybean — if only by proxy — pink eye is by far the most recreational.
I just love the looks of horror and suspicion that come from strangers when they get up close and personal. I was in Starbucks, minding my own business and ordering an iced coffee, when the previously perky barista made eye contact with me and leapt back so fast you’d have thought a copperhead was lurking in the cash register.
“What’s going on with your eye?” she asked with something close to real concern. “It looks terrible.”
I hadn’t been too self-conscious before that. Now there were six people standing in line behind me who suddenly thought I had the plague. For a second I wanted to run around like Max from Where the Wild Things Are, shouting, “Touch it! Touch it! I dare you to know my pain!”
Alas, cooler heads prevailed. Not that I can’t appreciate the fear. I look like a bipolar Incredible Hulk, with one eye an angry red and the other as placid and blue as a spring afternoon. There are moments when the itching gets so bad I want to scoop my eyeball out with a spoon, but I must also admit to being rather fascinated by the gnarly stuff that can seep out of an otherwise normally calm orifice (though I guess the eye would only be an orifice if I were to actually scoop it out).
It’s a good thing My Lovely Wife is a nurse — although I must admit she doesn’t have the sweetest of bedside manners for her ailing, half-blind, ever-needy husband (who has a penchant for histrionics). She snatches my eyelid back, dumps drops in there and pats me on the head without so much as a peck on the cheek. I keep waiting for her to rub in some dirt and tell me to “walk it off, son,” like my 8-and-under baseball coach.
I must also give credit where credit is due. Were it not for My Lovely Wife’s earlier battle with pink eye, I wouldn’t have been on the mend so quickly. She had some drops left over from a few summers ago, so as soon as the goop appeared, the medication was put to good use.
Although, in those moments before drifting off to sleep, I couldn’t help but second-guess the decision to use year-old drops in my eye.
The next morning, my eye was sealed shut. Super Glue ain’t got nothin’ on pink-eye goop.
Hayes Judah better watch out. The next time Jellybean sneezes, I’m going to make dang sure she’s pointed right at him.
Contact Brett Buckner at email@example.com.