Two Turkeys, One Swine, and a Duck

29 Nov

turkey eat-ham.png

It’s the day before Thanksgiving 2010. I’m sitting in my “American Rebels and Romantics” literature class and it hits me: a fever. Aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. Luckily, I’m wearing two North Face fleece sweatshirts because this was the height of the “Mountain Man Meets Suburban Woman” fashion trend. We all showed up to school looking like we were expecting to “weather the elements,” eat a Cliff bar or two, and then take a nice nap in our polartec sleeping bags.

I go to take my Pre-Calc test and numbers and formulas are whizzing through my head. This must be how Einstein felt on the regular, I think to myself. Feverish with a passion for CALCULATIONS.

(It was the best grade I ever got on a Pre-Calc test. I think we can thank the fever.)

When I got home that afternoon and told my mom I wasn’t feeling well, I threw my entire house into a state of panicked delirium.

“SHE COULD HAVE SWINE FLU, MIKE,” my mom yelled. “We need to keep her isolated!!”

Yes, this was the height of le Swine. Everyone was on high alert.

“Did you hear that Rosie got…swine flu?!” the town’s mothers were whispering, as if Rosie were pregnant and dating a teacher, all at the same time.

My sister has severe asthma, so my family was – understandably – on high alert.

And so, they forced me to wear a mask and gloves and to stay in my room like some kind of walking contagion. (My mom will be mortified that I’m recounting this story. Onward.)

And so I sat, in my room, like a shorthaired, brunette princess. This was my Sleeping Beauty story.

My uncle stopped by that night and brought me a little stuffed animal. I waved to him sadly at my window, in a scene fit to be a Lifetime movie trailer.

I thought Thanksgiving was going to hell in a hand basket.


No one was keeping me up there. In fact, I think everyone had forgotten by that point and was eating pizza and watching the latest Twilight movie. But melodrama is my thing.

The next morning, I awoke and felt…completely normal. My fever was gone, my appetite was back, and I felt like myself again. Whatever mutant illness had attempted to enter my body the day before had clearly been scared off by my incessant whaling tantrum.

“She’s fucking nuts, I’m outta here!” it probably said. Kind of like the Mucinex commercial.

And so, I rejoined my family – sans gloves and mask – and we celebrated Thanksgiving as normal. And by “normal,” I mean that every time my parents asked me to “please pass the___,” I responded with, “WAIT, HANG ON, let me put on my gloves.”

Fast forward to Thanksgiving 2015 and I’m in bed, with a fever.

The day before, I was waiting to try to register for a French Pilates course (which luckily was at capacity), when a familiar yet unfailingly uncomfortable feeling hit me: aches, chills, hot and cold, all at the same time. (Plus the kind of stomach pain that you just know will lead to that scene from Bridesmaids.)

Oh shit, I thought. I think I’m getting sick. It must have been the duck I ate for lunch.

What do people do when they feel themselves getting sick? I’m not sure. I decided it was necessary to run – not walk – to the nearest produce market and buy clementines and oranges. There’s NEVER a bad time for citrus. The fruit man looked at the glassy-eyed, sweating and shivering girl in his store and definitely thought he was selling to someone in the heat of drug withdrawals.

When I had my fruit fix, I ran home and jumped in bed.

Because I’m an adult (kind of) and living in France, there is no parental supervision to force me to wear a mask and gloves. There is just me, myself, and I. (Plus my kind roommate, who bought me Powerade, and the other really nice people here who check in on me.)

The most gratifying part of getting sick is being able to whine and complain about it. Because when you’re sick – especially on a holiday – it’s like you’re the ONLY person to have EVER been sick in the history of the WORLD. No sickness has EVER been worse than the one you’re experiencing:

Why is this happening to me?? I love Thanksgiving more than literally ANYONE ELSE on this planet. This is SO unfair! Is this happening because I accidentally tripped that six-year-old last week so as to avoid stepping in dog shit? Or, is it because of that one time I lied about being sick in high school so I wouldn’t have to go to chorus dress rehearsal? The universe is SO unkind. I’m swearing off reading horoscopes for at least the foreseeable future. The universe doesn’t deserve my business!  

When you don’t want to drive your roommate insane, there is no one to whom you can bitch and moan. That’s when hallucinations come in handy.

Is that a fly on my wall? No, it’s a stain. It kind of looks like John Cena’s head:

john cena head

*John Cena’s head then starts talking.*

Omg you’re so funny, John Cena’s head, hahaha you kill me! Omg STOP, you’re crazy! You’re so bad! I loved you in Trainwreck!

Then comes the realization that maybe you should see someone. No, not John Cena. A real “someone,” like a doctor. Just to make sure it was, in fact, the duck you ate at that quaint little “Shop local, Eat Local, Smoke a Local Cigarette and then Don’t Wash Your Hands Before Cooking,” café.

And so, that is how I ended up in the one American doctor’s office in my town.

Dr. H, as we shall call him, wears suspenders and trendy glasses. He moved From the U.S. to France many years ago, and so kind of speaks English like a Disney cartoon character – with a mildly British accent. He said he recognized my slight “Massachusetts accent” and was thrilled to meet me, another American.

(Is speaking French with a slight “Massachusetts accent” more prestigious than speaking with a slight American accent? How is that detectable? I mean sure, I can ramble on about baked beans and tea parties for hours, but that’s more a question of content than sound…)

Dr. H took 30 seconds to examine me, told me that “life is beautiful,” wrote me three prescriptions (without really telling me if anything was actually ailing me), told me to eat a lot of “quince paste, boiled thyme, cooked cheese, and toast,” and then asked me to talk about my life in Boston.

In what will go down in history as one of the most heroic attempts to converse through the desire to shit oneself, I told Dr. H about my hometown, my friends, my family, BU, and what I’m doing in France. He told me he’s an “outdoors” person who enjoys a beer and pizza on a Friday night. (This statement confirmed his heritage. I then confirmed the truth of this statement by checking out his profile.)

When I checked my phone later that evening, there was a voicemail waiting for me from Dr. H, wishing me a Happy Thanksgiving. My parents thought this was weird. I then told them about John Cena’s head and they decided it might be best if I have a “doctor friend” close by.

Even when ill and in a different country, it’s nice to know there are people there for you. Let’s all be each other’s John Cena.

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