Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Spice Boy

You see this?

That is a garbage can filled ot the brim with snot-crusted tissues. Thankfully it was garbage day today so I got to take that foul pile of nastiness out. It joined the other full can that I took out on Monday. That's a lot of wiping. It's also a good indicator of how pathetic one becomes toward the peak-period of a virulent cold. At the beginning that soiled tissue always gets put in the garbage with the due care and attention it deserves. By day three at least somewhere within a foot of it is okay. And then by the time my wife gets it (which isn't often) you just find them mashed into seat cushions and hidden under books so they don't roll away under the weight and pure evil energy of hacked-out snot.

Shamefully though I was exposed as a revolting mess at the grocery store this morning. As it's Valentines Day (a holiday my wife and I have blissfully ignored in it's entirety before having children and are now being socially blackmailed into participating in) my son and I shot off to the store to buy the missing ingredients to make sticky toffee pudding tonight. Actually that's not entirely true. I didn't have any chocolate and knowing the grocery stores are desperate to move on to the next manufactured cash-cow I was hoping they'd have some Cadbury's Mini Eggs in stock (no such luck). Which I could also dress up as being so kind to my suffering wife (even her Alpha Dog genes have been overrun by this nasty cold) that I ran off early to get some Kiwi Strawberry Snapple. The entire middle of my car was crammed with used tissues. Frankly the prior reason I shaved yesterday was being well aware that a man sat outside a school with my pale-pallor, a four-day stubble and his lap covered in just-wettened tissues would likely get me put on a special (and disturbingly full) list for my area. On the way to the store I realized that I needed to wade through the filth to put my coffee cup in the cup holder - so started grabbing fistfuls of the booger-cloths and cramming them into the almost-pointless pockets in the doors. Eventually I managed to fill the entire thing up - which was also randomly broken up with granola bar wrappers and a very old water bottle that had yellowed a little to make it look like I'd had a wee in some ear wax.

I felt like I'd achieved something though. That was until I got to the store, parked and confidently kicked the door wide open - only to have about a weeks worth of suspicious tissues cack-out all over the parking lot. And with this being the dog-days of winter they just blew off like an escaped dog towards the store entrance. And because there were other people about I had to at least make a futile effort to make it look like I was trying to clean up - while also trying to make it look like I'm not deliberately trying to infect as many people as possible - a la a Twelve Monkeys-style airport virus release. I only have a cold. I have never before felt more like Colin from The Brittas Empire.

Actually that reminds me - Central NY seems to be utterly obsessed with disinfectant and hand sanitizers. It's bewildering how prevalent it is. Everywhere I've worked people have committed to carting in buckets of the stuff and penciling in periods of the day to apply it. Which would fine and dandy but the absolute blanket nature of it makes me - someone who rarely applies the stuff - look like the weird one. It's so bloody popular a concern for people that in the morning when I get to the gym almost everyone else immediately goes to the paper towel and spray bottle/sanitizer pumps and washes down their equipment before they get going. Me not doing it (why would I - they haven't been used yet that day?) makes me look like the sole person their all protecting themselves against. I wouldn't mind as much but this is not an area where other areas of personal hygiene or aesthetic cleanliness are of a particularly high standard. Two good clues to that are a) I'm English and I may actually have the best teeth outside of my own home for a good three-square mile area, and b) I know for a fact that I've been to job interviews where none of the other people wore a suit or even a tie - because you just don't around here. Standards are just lower here. This is sweatpants and winter beards country (and that's just the women) after all. I have genuinely had people look at me like I've levitated because I can put a tie on without using a mirror and/or an instruction manual. I'm not elevating myself above other people (that's for other people to do). But - and not to be too crass, but this is true - when you consider that I have worked somewhere where someone had dropped both a bitten raw potato and a dildo in a work stairwell (like some sort of hastily-assembled Amish-vibrator of some kind) it does make me question what horrifying incident occured in this area that has pushed everyone to use hand sanitizer so often.

But my family is different. My daughter has fallen foul to the frequent sanitizer/hand-soap habit though. It seems to be a thing they've taught her at school. Speaking of which - and I wasn't going to mention this because it's something that is just garishly boring to other people - my daughter just won an award at school. Basically the school pick one kid in every year to win a reading award based upon their ability. So at my school 8 kids from consecutive years are chosen and they get to go on a fancy school trip to a book store - get in the newspaper - and get an award given to them. My daughter won it for the kindergarten level. Her reading and writing really has taken off over the last few months. I figured she was near the top of her class but yesterday when I was told the person at the school said her reading level in particular is well above her school year. She actually pulled me to one side whilst waiting for my daughter to let me know - which is usually an indicator that your child has either had some sort of accident, cried or had to go to the school nurse after agreeing to a dare involving swallowing school glue. Because it wasn't - and only for that reason - I had hoped someone had heard. I'm really not one for gloating about children's achievements at all. It's just so crass and silly - especially for a kid in kindergarten level. Make a fuss of them at home obviously - but making that the thing your child is just seems weird.

My wife - a ridiculously smart person who always sees the big picture - immediately responded to me that hopefully out daughter will understand that she could get a free college scholarship out of this sort of effort, "eventually". She may be only five and a half, but you're never to young to be an obvious failure, are you dear? More amusingly was that when I explained it to my son - after coming back into the hallway to face the judging eyes of all the other parents wondering if my daughter wet herself or ate an eraser just like their kids always do - he loudly replied, "I tooted and it's spicy Daddy."

Thanks for that, mate.

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