Some stories not meant for telling get told anyway. In that spirit, I share with you a tale of my husband’s and my romantic Christmas break in Nowheresville this year.
On the first morning of our trip, I got up to make Eric and myself some healthy green smoothies. I had confiscated all the fruit I’d used in the offsprings’ stockings at our early Christmas celebration in Houston, because Lord knows they weren’t going to eat it: mangoes, mini pineapples, apples, pears, and naval oranges. YUM. I decided to triage the fruit by fragility, so it was to be pears and mangoes that morning. For a little extra fiber, I gave them a gentle wash then chopped them up with skins on and dropped them in the Vitamix with some greens, colostrum, flax, ginger, turmeric, pumpkin seeds, and almond milk.
They were delish.
Eric had to put in a full day’s work-from-home in the Quacker, so a few hours later I took the dogs out for a walk around our running trail. It was so lovely that my heart swelled with the simple joy of being in our place and enjoying the little things, the small moments. When I was nearly back home, I decided to cut across the partially-cleared space behind our home site, where the foundation for our giant 18-wheeler-esque Michael Phelps swim spa pad was ready for a pour. Just as I passed the site of last Spring’s giant burn a la Eric lighting an entire dead tree on fire and it burning like a demon for twenty-four nerve-wracking hours (SMH), something unexpected and quite unpleasant occurred.
STOP READING NOW IF YOU’RE SQUEAMISH, and I’m not just whistling Dixie here, folks. SERIOUSLY, STOP!!!!
With absolutely no warning, my stomach lurched and my lower GI unleashed a flood the volume of which the world hasn’t seen since the time of Noah, inside my loose fitting navy pants. I stopped mid-stride. WTH? And just like that it happened again. And again.
“Shit,” I said. It seemed to work, both as an exclamation and a descriptor.
Luckily, I was by myself, so I was mostly just inconvenienced once I got over the shock and horror. I kicked off my trail running shoes and ripped all clothing off my lower half. I used the outside of my pants to clean myself and wadded them up. There I stood, in my Houston Texans sweatshirt and nada else, on the edge of the clearing.
I decided the best course of action was to make a mad dash to the Bookmobile, straight across the swim spa pad and clearing. We were out in the country after all, on heavily treed property, and I knew Eric’s nose was glued to his laptop screen. I could shower in the Bookmobile and wrap myself in a sheet, then present myself to Eric with a funny story, well in the past tense.
“Come on dogs,” I said, and stepped gingerly with my bare feet through all kinds of crunchy and sharp ground cover. I crested the second to last big bushy tree before the open space.
That’s when I saw him. Not Eric. A construction guy, on our house pad, facing me, but working his cell phone. I stopped so fast Layla ran into my heels and pulled my sweat shirt as far down my thighs as it would reach. Then I backpedaled through the bramble. Suddenly the tree clearing around me seemed much more thorough than it had only moments ago. I kept scrambling until I was back in tree cover and waist high grass behind Eric’s toppled and blackened tree-carcass. I fell on my rump with an oomph, dropping my pants, shoes, water bottle, and cell phone beside me.
“Now what?” I asked Petey. He stared back with his one good eye then darted off to chase a squirrel. “You’re no help, “ I muttered, but he was too far away to hear and honestly he doesn’t speak English anyway.
I surveyed my hiding place. With the temps in the low 50s, I didn’t have to worry (much) about bugs or snakes. I did, however, have to figure out how to get back to home base, since the worker could be the first of many that stayed for God knows how long. I never had cell signal out on the trail, but I tried my phone anyway. Two bars. Hallelujah! I texted Eric.
“Help! I’m behind the Satanic burned tree. I’ve had an accident [which was true, but I didn’t elaborate.]. I need pants. There are workers at the pad. Help!”
While I waited for him to answer, I used my peach-mango bottled water for an impromptu shower and loofahed myself with field grass. “Please Lord let there be no poison ivy out here,” I prayed. I checked my phone. No answer.
I sent another message. “Loose pants, like your PJ bottoms. And hurry. Please.”
I waited. No answer. Our famous connection to each other—a connection that had alerted me when he was hit by a car when bicycling, once, and another time when I drove back into town a day early from a business trip, and then again when burglars tried to break into Annaly to steal his estate-sale cash—wasn’t working.
“THIS IS SO HUMILIATING, PLEASE OH PLEASE OH PLEASE LOOK AT YOUR PHONE.”
I sent him an email to his work address, copying his home handle just in case. “Look at your texts. Emergency. Emergency.”
Finally, he pinged me back. “I’m on my way.”
He found me five minutes later, my behind firmly planted in the grass, long strands strategically positioned for modesty. He’s a gentleman, so he turned his back while I dressed.
“I don’t know what’s wrong with me, hon. My stomach just cratered. And I feel nauseous now, and wobbly,” I told him.
We walked back together. For some reason, my sweet husband chose not to hold my hand, but he did put his on my back.
Fast forward through a few hours during which I moaned about my stomach, a lot. Mid-day, Eric stood up, a stricken look on his face, and leapt across the tiny confines of the Quacker for the bathroom. This may not be very nice of me, but I sighed in relief. He had it, too. We had planned to run that afternoon, but I asked him to take a (safer) walk with me instead. I panted up the hills. I sweated. I clutched my stomach. He was not in much better shape.
“Do you think we have a virus?” I asked.
“We’ve got something.”
“I wonder if I didn’t wash the fruit well enough today.”
“That shouldn’t matter much since you peel it first.”
“Oh, I didn’t peel it. I wanted us to get a little extra fiber and nutrients.”
He stopped. So did I. “What did you use in the smoothies?”
“Pears and mangoes.”
“You used mango skins?”
“You’ve poisoned us. Mango skins are chemically the same as poison oak, and mangoes already clean you out, without even the poison factor.” He shook his head, but he was smiling.
“Oh my God. I didn’t know. Or if I did, I didn’t remember.” I thought about it. “We’ve been gone from the islands too long.”
“Likely story.” He narrowed his eyes. “Should I be watching my back around you now?”
“I can assure you that if I decide to poison you, I won’t poison myself, too.”
“It would be a great way to deflect suspicion. Might make a good plot line.”
So we launched into a discussion of mystery plots. This time he did hold my (thoroughly and repeatedly scrubbed) hand, and we hobbled back to the Quacker.
And the next day, we skipped the green smoothies altogether.
That’s all I’ve got.