it is 2006, and I have the flu for the first time in eleven years.
For someone who loves to eat as much as I do, the inability to taste food is enough to make a girl attach a Honey Baked Ham to each foot and hurl herself off a bridge over crackling grease. Crackling grease ready to scramble some eggs. With cheese. And Tabasco. And ketchup. I can’t taste any of that shit.
Dave and Ryan and I, all three of us have been afflicted with the same harrowing disease. We’ve been piled and electric-blanketed and cuddled up on the couch together watching Carnivale in its entirety, you know, that show on HBO about the carnies who heal broken arms with their minds and dance with defanged snakes and then do sex all day? I don’t really understand it either.
But it’s inserted itself into my fever dreams for sure. Last night I dreamt I was a carnie and named Amazing Human Incubator, which really only meant that I had to walk around in a bubble all the time because I couldn’t survive in temperatures under 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Then I woke up and realized I was crying in my sleep and I grabbed the digital thermometer and took my temperature and it was 103.2 degrees. So I started drinking everything in sight, tepid red Gatorade and room temp water and cold (hot) tea. Dave had left a pill cocktail on the coffee table and I ate all of them and I had no idea what they were. Everything was tinted red.
Ryan Lee brought over two Styrofoam cups of Orange Drink from Sutton’s and he sat on the couch and sweetly pretended to like my new hairdo, which I am now calling “Flu-Couch Chic.”
Last night I didn’t even go to trivia at the bar. So Dave and I sat on the couch together, sniffling, and we had our own trivia night. It was called, “Okay. I’m Going To Make Fun Of Someone who Hangs Out Around Town And You Guess Who I’m Talking About. Trivia.”
It’s now the fourth day and I am so stir-crazy so of course here I am at the bar, with a glass of Cel-Ray soda, watching “Muppets Take Manhattan” or whatever it’s called. This movie makes me feel uneasy.
I am sitting next to Aurelio, a man with a mouth full of gold teeth like so many gangsta treasure pebbles glinting in the light from the new neon Corona clock we put on the wall.
Aurelio is a fantastic artist. He draws naked boobs very well, but he never EVER includes nipples because he says it’s “vulgar.” Aurelio loves screwdrivers and when he orders one, he asks for “two in one giant cup.” A double?
He just asked me, apropos of NOTHING, “Hey man, you know how much it cost to go to Japan from here?” Aurelio tells everyone he owns the entire line of BP gas stations. He thinks people believe him because he says that the letters “BP” are his initials.
Those are not his initials. He does not know that. I mean, his last name starts with a “P” and I’m wondering if he thinks that qualifies him enough to claim the “B” along with it. But unless his name is “British Petroleum,” I do not think he is fooling anyone.
A string of sentences, verbatim, from Aurelio Petroleum last week while I was bartending:
“Oh I wish I had a cigarette. I called Cingular yesterday and they said I had to evacuate the buildin. My debit card don’t work right? Can I have a screwdriver? It’ll work, I just know it. Are you Irish? Can I have a bag of salt and vinegar chips? I don’t know how old my daughter is. Last year she was about 8, and I think this year she’ll be about 9. Oh, I’ll just use it as a credit card. Yeah. Are those Marlboro Reds the Menthol kind?”
I prompted NONE of this. This is not a collection of sentences over the course of the night. This is one run-on paragraph. What does Aurelio Petroleum do when he goes home? Does he research lineage? Analyze demographic findings for the next few gas station locations? Eat chips? Sort cigarettes? Wrap his furniture in tinfoil and sit patiently next to his toaster oven awaiting the Mothership? Who knows?
All I know is that, like a ghost, Aurelio was never seen again at the bar after that night, and I guess I’ll always wonder if he was a fever dream too. Thanks goodness it’ll be a decade before I feel this way again.