It started with a tickle in my throat.

“Cough,” I said quietly.

“Cough, cough,” I said louder.

My temperature rose through the night. 99 degrees. 100 degrees. I woke up with an aching head and a gurgly stomach.

I tried to drink some water. Eat a little breakfast. This was a mistake. I projectile vomited all over our shower curtain.

“Dad,” Solomon told me. “You threw up.”

“Yes,” I told my son. “I did.”

There was no denying it. I had made it all month without getting sick. Solomon and Samson spent most of February hacking and vomiting and staying home from school. The boys were finally healthy. But now it was time for me to pay the piper.

What a strange saying. Pay the piper. Not sure why that came out of my feverish brain. The origin is unpleasant. I just googled it. There was a piper from Hamelin who abducted children. Poor kids.

Anyway, there’s no way around it.



The country is abuzz with fear of the coronavirus. COVID-19 for those of you who believe in science. It’s so hard to get a handle on world news these days. Much of what passes for news is really partisan propaganda in disguise. Facebook and Twitter and the president. Who can say whether or not the entire world is on the brink of a pandemic?

I suppose when the World Health Organization or the CDC chime in you have to take it seriously. The Provost at Penn State sent a very official looking email last week about the very official measures the university is taking to keep all of us safe from Covid-19. The Coronavirus.

I don’t have the coronavirus. My symptoms are mild and mirror the sorts of things that kept the boys out of school too much this month. And I haven’t been to China recently. Or South Korea. Or Italy. Only Nashville, and the only thing I picked up there is a jitter in my step from all that honky tonk.

Kurt Vonnegut seems to have a quote for everything. Here’s something to keep in mind as the United States braces for COVID-19:

“We’re terrible animals. I think that the Earth’s immune system is trying to get rid of us, as well it should.”

Dark humor. There’s one way to imagine Earth’s response to human induced climate change. I’m not totally sold on Vonnegut’s view of people. I think human beings are infinitely redeemable. But this excerpt from Man Without a Country comes to mind as social media explodes with information about Covid-19. Some reliable. Most silly. Vonnegut always makes me laugh.


I think I’m on the mend. I spent most of last weekend in bed.

“Are you okay, Dad?” Samson asked.

“Cough,” I said.

Later, I wondered into the hallway. Solomon was in his room.

“Don’t come into my bedroom, Dad,” Solomon told me. “You have germs.”

“Cough, cough,” I said.

I moved through our house like a zombie last weekend. Sleep. Sweat. Tylenol. Projective vomit. It was unpleasant. I wonder if this is what all those people are doing in China these days. South Korea and Italy, too. Poor folks.

My temperature starting come down by Sunday. The cough was less dramatic. Just in time for a return to what promises to be a busy week. The last week before Spring Break! Get wild, baby.

Spring break? Who needs it. They boys have already spent most of February at home. I’d rather they go to school. But our friend Natalie is coming to visit. The boys are over the moon about it.

So be strong out there, America. Don’t let the common flu take you down. Covid-19, either. And if you have to projectile vomit. I suggest a shower curtain. Easy to replace.

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