Dead by Morning

I told him 'I passed out. I decided not to tell him that I had also, as nearly as I could determine, died.
-Michael Chabon

In my house (which isn't that big), you know you're sick when you have to stop and rest on the way from the bedroom to the kitchen.

And I didn't exactly stop and rest - it was much more akin to passing out, in that I propped myself against the stairwell, and then slid down the wall.

I knew I was coming down with something the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Friday, the fake husband and I went to an art exhibit, where I was periodically berated for sitting on the antiques. I only sat on them because every time I stood up, I got light-headed. I guess I could've rented a Rascal, and made the gallery rounds on a scooter, but I let vanity get in the way. (If I could've reclined on a litter and been carried around by a harem of well-oiled young men, that would've suited my vanity much better.)

Saturday, when he picked me up for a party, we both should've realized something was amiss when I couldn't even muster any real opinion about which tie he should wear - just the kind of sartorial challenge I'm usually pretty enthusiastic (or at least derisive) about.

He'd brought a dozen or more, and I pretty much gestured aimlessly and said they were all fine.

I even asked him why he'd brought so many, which provoked his rightfully indignant response:

"Because I know you'd replace me in a minute.

"Because you probably have an emergency backup date circling the block right now.

"Because I know you wouldn't think twice about saying," and here he shifted to a tone dripping with sarcasm that I think was meant to be an impersonation of me, "'Ummmm. Yeahhhh. Thanks for coming, but we won't be needing you tonight after all.'"

The way he said it, you'd think it's the kind of thing I do all the time.

"I may be Rainman," he finished up, "but I know a landmine when I see one."

"...and also, I can count all those toothpicks."

After a long night of eating and drinking and watching him survey the room for eligible women he could hit on (did I mention he's a Kennedy?), by the time we got home, I was so exhausted, I could barely even talk.

Earlier in the evening, we'd been discussing foreign policy, so midnight naturally seemed like a good time to pick that back up.

The last thing I vaguely recall was falling asleep on his shoulder, mumbling about Jacob and Esau and Isaac and Ishmael, and ending (I think) with the formation of the PLO. Or maybe the Yom Kippur War.

All I remember is he wanted to know where Shemp came in. (I may have mentioned we have an interfaith marriage.)

He observed that there must be something wrong if I didn't even feel like arguing - and said fighting with me when I'm sick is like fighting a wet kitten in a bag. I don't know what that means, really, but since he usually compares me (affectionately) to Colin Powell, I think it suggests I was not up to par.

I should know by now that NOBODY listens to me when I'm sick anyway, because I'm famous for my fever-induced delusions (like the time I had pneumonia, and insisted that HBO was televising executions during the day).

The thing is, I knew I was in perfect health, because I'd just had an exhaustive physical to qualify for some pricey life insurance - and their tests ruled out every illness, disease, and virus under the sun, and even proclaimed that I had the cholesterol levels and blood pressure I had when I was 18 (like anyone cares - I'd much prefer to have the breasts, thighs, and ass I had at 18).

Still, sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up... And the denial was over. I was definitely sick.

I had a fever, and couldn't swallow. (If I felt better, this might be a good place for a one-liner.)

Luckily, there's a 24-hour drugstore not far from where I live.

Though I can tell you right now, you do NOT want to see God's special array of freaks that turn out for a 24-hour pharmacy at 5 in the morning. (I'm not being smug, and am perfectly happy to admit that they all looked better than I did.)

It must've been the fever, but somehow, I ended up with a cart that included: Tylenol, Krispy Knibbles, a Superman toothbrush, Chloraseptic, Mountain Dew, Posh Puffs, and a really cool pink metal Barbie tin full of chocolate (with a pink strap, so - I was thinking, maybe irrationally, in retrospect - it could double as a purse when the candy was gone).

All I needed was Actifed...Which isn't available on the shelf.

Instead, there's a sign that says that because of the "high theft rate," you have to go ask for it at the pharmacy ("spoon, lighter, and hypodermic needle: sold separately" - just kidding, it doesn't say that).

I paid for my purchases and was only mildly surprised to glance up at the round anti-shoplifting mirror and discover that I was still wearing my jammies and house slippers. The clerk seemed nonplussed, and I paused briefly to be relived that I'm not a movie star because Margot Kidder and Robert Downey Jr. are always getting in trouble for that sorta thing. (Though I'd love nothing better than to be an E! True Hollywood Story.)

By that night, I'd had a few visitors; consumed several soup deliveries from assorted emergency backup husbands; and napped through another few episodes of HBO's televised executions.

Somebody wake me for New Year's.