Love in the Time of Stomach Crud, by Gabriel Garcia Warthen

Miss me? Well, I can hardly blame you; I miss myself. I've taken a sort of time out from time the last couple of days.

It started over the weekend. My wife stayed up almost all of Saturday night coping with what she initially assumed to be food poisoning — on top of a bad cold that had plagued her all week. So on Sunday morning, I headed to Mass alone. This was, ironically, the Sunday that my column about taking care of my twin granddaughters ran. On my way to St. Peter's, my daughter calls me and says she and her husband were stricken by the same crud, so could I come help with the babies?

So I dropped by the church to tell them someone would have to sub for me as eucharistic minister, and went and got the twins and took them to my house again — I figured they were better off in a big house with one sick person than a small house with two.

We kept them overnight, and I returned them to their parents Monday morning before spending the day at work.

I took off Tuesday and Wednesday as planned. But instead of spending them Christmas shopping and/or going out to cut a tree and/or helping my son-in-law with the remodeling project, I spent the two days in a timeless fog, watching one old movie on the boob tube after another. This may seem like a total waste, but I actually accomplished something remarkable: I slowed down time.

When I was young, time passed slowly. I can vaguely remember the days when I was paid on an hourly basis, and I would keep looking at the clock and marveling at how slowly the hands moved. Starting in my early 20s — as work got more interesting, as children came along and grew up at light speed, followed by grandchildren, life was on fast-forward. On Tuesday and Wednesday, it crawled again. There's nothing like fever, pain and nausea, combined with helplessly waiting for one old movie to end and another one to come on (because you feel too weak to put in a DVD), to make life seem longer than it is. I could have sworn that one of those old movies on Wednesday lasted about a week.

I seem to recall that one of the characters in Catch-22Dunbar, I believe — cultivated boredom and misery as a way of making life seem longer. It may not be worth it, but I'm here to testify that it works.

Anyway, I came back in to work this morning, and I wrote an editorial for tomorrow's paper which I'm probably not going to want to save as one of my most stellar literary moments, but hey, I got it done — and that's saying something when I haven't had a meal since Monday, and frankly can't ever imagine WANTING one again. Yesterday, I had a little Jello, and a handful or so of dry cereal — and regretted it. Today, just a small serving of Jello, which I don't think did me any good. (Speaking of which, do you have any idea how many commercials on television have to do with food? Way, WAY too many, that's how many.) Since then, I've just been drinking water, which does NOT leave me hungry for more, no matter what Nicholas Kristof said in his column today.

I'm going to see if I can make some progress on a Sunday column, and then head back home, and hope and pray I can muster the strength to come in and do what MUST be done on Friday. Looming over me is the fact that everyone is off next week in the editorial department except me and our part-timer who handles letters. Cindi and Warren are leaving behind a week's worth of copy, but there are a certain number of things that have to be done each day for these pages to come out, and I'll be doing all of them. So I need to recover some strength for that.

Consider this your heads-up that I won't be posting all that much in the coming days.

6 thoughts on “Love in the Time of Stomach Crud, by Gabriel Garcia Warthen

  1. Brad Warthen

    I’m actually not a big fan of Marquez. Of course, I’ve only tried to read one book: The General in His Labyrinth. I thought I might like it because I had learned about Simón Bolívar and José de Sucre and all those guys when I was in school in Ecuador (the way American kids used to learn about George Washington). I never finished it. After it had gone on and on about the general’s suffering with gross, dignity-robbing physical ailments for about a gazillion pages, I quit. And suffice it to say that titles such as “Love in the Time of Cholera” sort of persuaded me that all his books were like that.

    The last couple of days sort of reminded me of my experience reading that book; hence the Marquez reference in my headline.

  2. Karen McLeod

    Try chewing on crushed ice. Then go to cold, clear drinks, and work up to luke warm, then warm broth. I assume you have Immodium. Prayers, and I hope you have a good Christmas (with those granddaughters how can you not?). Peace.

  3. p.m.

    One Hundred Years of Solitude, Brad. An absolute masterpiece. If you don’t like it, I’d suggest going into journalism.

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