Warning, this is gross. Not quite as gross as that time I accidentally Carried my sex buddy, but if this story becomes a stage show, you’re definately going to want to stay out of the splash zone in the first few rows.
Getting over a nasty little cold has left me with a particularly bad Cough. To understand why I’ve capitalized the C in cough, you have to understand that this is not the bodily function of the politely dying Victorian consumptive, this is more like a pull start motor in the throes of an exorcism. From flubber demons.
My Cough demands attention, and a certain begrudging respect. Strangers stop and say “Woah.” And then often cross themselves, scoot away and start googling “death rattle” on their phones. My cat won’t have anything to do with me, she just hides and dreams of better days when I didn’t hack thunderclaps at her. A trash truck driver actually stopped his work to look around for what the ruckus was.
And now that I’m moving through what my friend Helena politely calls the “expecterant phase,” it’s gotten messier. And she’s pretty much the only person willing to be around me during it, bless her heart. For her trouble, she and two of her unsuspecting friends got to witness the following this morning.
We’re driving and I start to feel the cough tickle come on. It sounds and feels like a tick-tick-tick in my chest because I’m breathing through a film of semi-gelatized snot. Once I start coughing, I have to finish, I have to hack it up or I feel like I’m going to choke on it. (I did warn you this was going to be gross.) I start hacking and my leg starts twitching like a dog getting it’s belly rubbed and then it ends with me with a mouthful of demon-snot. I can feel it’s firmer consistancy floating in my salivia. I’m out of tissues in my purse, so I try to sidetalk out of one side of my mouth with the debris and various Cough shrapnel floating in the other, “are your windows up back there in the back seat and does anyone mind if I spit out the window?”
They don’t so much agree as realize they have no real good choices here and say, “um sure?” I roll down my window and wind up for the pitch but get firmly checked by the seatbelt’s shoulder strap. I recoil and make a second windup but the whole missile launch has already been thrown dangerously offbalance. In that slow-mo that only bad memories come in, I realize that it lacks the critical OUMPH! but there is no return.
I fall back into my seat with snot and salvia streaming across my right check and tendrils extending into my hair. “Babies spit up more effectively than that,” I offer feebly. A hand extending from the backseat, belonging to a girl I’ve just met moments before (and probably never again, now) offers me two crumpled Rubios napkins. I realize that most of the damage is to the shoulder of my own top, where I’ve Jackson Pollocked a fist-sized green and yellow painting of my viral illness.
I hear the two girls in the back seat discuss the contents of the one girl’s purse, from whence the napkins came, probably because they’re desperate to distract themselves from the horror of what they’ve just seen.
I continue to take stock of the damage. One ambitious bit of snot has broken my body’s gravity and streaked away like a green comet of nasty across the back passenger side window. This is now the view of a nice girl named Cynthia, whom I barely know.
At least I made sure that window was UP? Small saving graces, I guess.
“That pretty much could not have gone worse.”
We arrive at my destination and I offer goodbyes. “Ok, thanks and can we not talk about my harffing a snotball all over everything?”
“No,” I continued. “That was so bad that I think it enters the realm of funny and we must joke about it.”
“Yes,” came the chorus from the backseat, as the final word on the subject.