If you planned to leave town with kids over the holidays, there's about a 1 zillion percent chance that you've spent the hap-hap-happiest time of the year in the urgent-care outpost of a town you've never heard of.
I'd hoped to avoid this feverish truth, but using hand sanitizer on every surface along with random spritzing of total strangers in stores with Lysol hadn't helped. As we sat at the Doctor's Immediately Urgent Prime and Emergent Medicinal Care complex, I pondered the meaning of those hollow words, "urgent" and "immediate." I also comforted myself with the image of the "Silkwood"-style shower I would take the moment we got out of there.
After two and a half hours, most of us were still there. A few had announced that they'd had time to write their wills during the wait and had even asked the receptionist to be a witness.
I'd worked so hard not to be here with my daughter, who sat silent and beet-red, occasionally rousing long enough to mutter the word "brandy" over and over. In fact, she had awakened me the night before to simply say "Brandy" and I just thought she was having some weird dream about that skinny singer with the so-so pipes and snotty attitude. It's not like we have a house full of snifters and ascots for heaven's sake.
The germ-phobic in me briefly considered sending her in alone but I realized she'd never be able to fill out the forms in her fevered state, including the one that wanted to know if she, a FOURTH GRADER, was married.
"Should I fill this out?" I asked the receptionist from behind the turtleneck I had neurotically pulled up over my nose.
"Oh, no. You're special," she said. "The forms are for all the other people to fill out."
"Brandy" came a small voice from across the room.
I returned to the plastic seat that had been factory-molded to fit the arse of an anorexic chipmunk and dutifully filled out forms detailing my daughter's imaginary marriage and work history.
An hour later, the doctor was ready for us. I could've sworn he'd trick-or-treated at my door in a Power Rangers costume just a couple of months earlier. He stuck two cotton swabs into my daughter's precious nostrils for a flu test.
"Why'd he do that?" she asked groggily.
"I dunno, but in some countries, I think it means you're engaged."
The tiny doctor returned to say it wasn't flu but, "just, uh, some kind of, like, virus or somethin'."
"Righteous," I said. We left with a prescription for something that tasted exactly like - you guessed it brandy!
Out of the mouths of babes.