Although some people are uncomfortable going out to a restaurant by themselves, I am perfectly fine with dining alone. Honestly, with the level of pandemonium in my house on a regular basis, I am happy to have a quiet meal by myself every once in awhile. I don’t ask myself to get up and get some more water, I don’t typically spill food across the table on myself, and I don’t tell myself revolting stories while I eat. It actually makes for a refreshing change of pace.
But one day while I was out to lunch, I noticed a woman and a child of about six or seven eating at the table next to me. He was being a little rambunctious and she smiled apologetically.
“No school today?” I asked her warmly.
“Oh, he’s home sick,” she responded. As she started to say something else, the little boy let out this earth-shattering, apocalyptic sneeze that rained across the table.
He turned in my direction and broke into an explosive cough. I reflexively covered my food with my hands and gave her a horrified look.
“He had a cold but he’s getting it over it,” she assured me. I thought that if this was him getting better, I couldn’t imagine how bad he must have been when he was really sick. I was thinking that a call to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta wouldn’t be overreaching.
I wondered if she really thought he was, in fact, “getting over it,” or if she was just tired of being stuck home with Typhoid Jack and was desperate to get out among the non-drippy. I thought about the time another mom had sent her sneezing, wheezing daughter over to my house for a playdate, insisting the girl just had allergies. I insisted back that one doesn’t typically get a fever of 102 and have their head spin around 360 degrees when one has allergies.
As Jack continued to violently hack and sneeze through the meal, I inched my chair further and further back until I was almost sitting in the lap of the customer at the table behind me. Unfortunately, I was completely out of surgical masks or I would have immediately strapped one on before heading to the nearest NASA decontamination chamber to be biochemically disinfected.
While she busied herself trying to keep up with lava flow of mucus coming from the nose of her offspring, I looked at the mom in disbelief. Call me crazy, but I think if your kid is too sick to go to school, you probably shouldn’t be dragging him around in public either, unless it is to take him to the TB clinic.
All around me I noticed other customers noticing Typhoid Jack coughing up a lung. Soon, all of the tables had somehow mysteriously moved to the back of the restaurant.
Rather than go sit in the kitchen, I decided that I’d had enough of my Scarlet Fever Salad with a side of Streptococcus, and I motioned to my server to bring me a check.
“Any dessert today?” he asked, showing me the menu.
I looked at the selections. “Do you have any Penicillin?”
This is a repeated Lost in Suburbia column, which has appeared in GateHouse Media newspapers since 2008. As Tracy Beckerman’s main column is shifting focus - her kids are grown and she has moved back to the city - we are rerunning her earlier work for readers who may have missed these the first time around. You can follow her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LostinSuburbiaFanPage/ and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/tracybeckerman.