For a minute there I honestly thought my son was a vampire.
Turns out he only had pink eye.
I am currently reading Justin Cronin’s novel, The Passage, which is about the end of the world as brought on by a ill-fated government attempt to construct super-soldiers from a “vampire” virus. The virus gets loose, as viruses (virii?) do, and wreaks havoc. Once you catch it, it’s not long before you start to change – mutate, really – into something else. Something like – SPOILER ALERT! – a vampire.
It’s a real page-turner. I’m right in the middle of it and as a result it’s been on my mind a lot. So, when I got up the other day and went to rescue my shrieking, furious son from his cage, I was taken aback by what I saw. Overnight, my son had been transformed into something from my nightmares. When I saw his crusty, gooey, swollen eyes, it was with visions of terrifying, blood-sucking mutant virals in my head. And it freaked me out. Yet I know that even without that stuff in my head I’d still have been freaked.
BECAUSE PINK EYE IS FUCKING DISGUSTING.
I’ve dealt with a lot of disgusting things while raising my son for the past year and a half. I’ve cleaned and collected his feces, I’ve wiped snot with my hands, I’ve gotten his discarded, half-chewed food in my hair and his spit-up on my skin and clothes. I’ve actually put PASTE on his BUTT. Many times. But I was not ready for pink eye.
If you’ve ever had pink eye, you probably know that it’s not that big a deal. It’s not gonna kill you, it’s mostly gonna make you annoyingly uncomfortable and rather contagious for a spell. But that’s about it, outside of rare cases of which I have no knowledge but surely exist so I’m sorry if I’m seeming cavalier here but it’s just a little pink-eye, so relax.
BUT IT LOOKS TERRIFYING.
AND IT LOOKS DISGUSTING.
If I’d had a Hazmat suit, I’d have worn it. But I didn’t. And despite wanting NOTHING TO DO with the infected specimen sitting in front of me with its arms outstretched, begging to be picked up and fed and changed and allowed to wander around and wreak havoc and have fun and just generally have exist outside of its cage, I had no choice. The specimen was my son. And though I racked my brain for a way out of it, scrambled for any excuse to shirk the responsibility, brainstormed my ass off for any alternative to touching the revolting cesspool that was still screaming, still counting on me for EVERYTHING. But I couldn’t get around it; I had to pick him up and interact with him.
I HAD TO TOUCH THE BEAST. I HAD NO CHOICE. And now I too am unclean.
Pink eye might actually be scarier than vampires. And maybe – if I can write it sexily enough – even more lucrative…