There is nothing quite like being a bit under the weather to make one value one’s good health.
That said, there is nothing quite like food poisoning to cause even an atheist to plead for mercy from an unknown God.
“I noticed that you hardly ever eat chicken when we go out,” Lover stated mildly. It was Saturday night, and we were at Hook & Ladder restaurant on R Street.
“I really don’t trust anybody’s chicken,” I said, nibbling at our salumi and cheese appetizer. “It’s too questionably easy to under-cook it.”
Later he ordered the coq au vin; I wasn’t very hungry, but I took a few bites out of curiosity. It was very good, so I tried a bit more while Lover made the I told you so face at me.
He had some kind of heinous work deadline this holiday weekend; we kissed and made plans for tomorrow as he dropped me off.
At home, I stripped down to a tank top and panties, grabbed a Gatorade, and proceeded to play The Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for two hours on Xbox.
Yawning and content, I finally went to sleep around 2 a.m.
In the wee dawn hours, there was a disturbance in the Force. An oily, evil rumbling–a presence I had not felt since…
I dismissed it.
It was nothing.
I got up, to Pirate Cat’s immediate delight, and went to the kitchen to warm up his raw chicken slop and feed him. Although I’ve done this countless times before, the cold smell of salmonella riled up the beast within.
I only just made it to the toilet in time; thank goodness there’s a guest bath downstairs.
Gasping, panting, trying to keep my hair pulled back with one hand, I sat back, stomach roiling.
What the hell?
Washing my hands and face, I rinsed out my mouth and struggled back upstairs to bed.
I’ll just stay right here awhile, I thought, and passed out for twenty minutes.
Twenty-one minutes later I was right back at the bowl, this time in the master bath. I retched up water and Gatorade and green bile and through it all the salty ju from last night’s dinner burned through my nose.
Please let that be the last of it, I thought, repeating the soapy ablutions of earlier and literally crawling back to bed on my hands and knees.
For the next two hours I made repeated trips to the porcelain god where I bowed and prayed for forgiveness for ever eating even a forkful of that fated dish. At this point I would have bathed in a sea of crinkly onionskin Bibles, just to complete the Chicken Exorcism and have it be done with.
At one point, I fell asleep on the tile floor; when I woke up, I briefly wondered why Hell looked like my bathroom.
Later, much later, as I curled up in the fetal position and wished for an undertaker, I realized a strange paradox. I was glad to be alone, because really, no one should see me with spit in my hair and tears running down my face. But at the same time, I was lonely. The house and the Sunday streets outside were so quiet, I felt as if everyone else must have been Raptured to some chicken-less Heaven and only I was left down here to combat the salmonella demons within.
I did text Lover, from the very beginning. I knew he was asleep, so it was safe to send messages without having to reply or fend off offers of salvation.
Late in the afternoon I actually did call him, and he was frantic that I hadn’t contacted him sooner.
“Can I bring you anything? Do you want me to come by?” he asked. I could hear him packing up, rustling, keys jingling.
“NO,” I croaked. “No, I think the worst is over. I only wanted to tell you how miserable I am. Feel sorry for me, and that will be enough.”
The hurrying noises slowed on the other side of the phone. “I should be there,” he said heavily.
“It’s a very short walk from the bed to the bathroom,” I joked. “I am alright now. Actually, I’m not, I’m a disgusting mess. But I’ll see you tomorrow. You can spoil me then.”
“Wait, I feel fine,” Lover said, suddenly conscious of his own brush with mortality. “And I ate more of that than you did!”
“It’s the Curse of the Chicken,” I explained. “It probably has roots in Latina voodoo. My grandmother would know; her ghost has probably been berating me all morning. I’ll get an earful come this year’s Dia de los Muertos.”
“We’ll put a bowl of chicken broth on her altar, to ask for her protection,” he said. “Seriously–call me if you need anything.”
“Sure,” I said, and both of us knew I didn’t mean it.
This morning I am having chicken broth for breakfast and pretending it’s tea. The crucible seems to have passed; in the bright morning light, yesterday’s trials seem like a farce, like the rising of the sun at the end of a horror movie.
Oh wait, now there’s all this laundry to do, not to mention a thorough Pine-Sol cleansing of the bathroom. Perhaps my problems aren’t over with, after all…
Chicken Image Credit: https://goo.gl/o1Ax86