I've Been Sent Home With The Flu (And Some Tagore On The Side)

I have been sent home from work. I am never sent home from work. I am sick, you see, and it’s highly revolting. Not being the flu kind of cat, I am entirely unused to this level of nausea and intestinal discomfort.

A woman I work with was supposed to cover reception, because the woman at reception had to receive some training of some kind. She had only covered reception for a few minutes when she came to ask me if I could stand in, because she was clearly going to vomit any second. I explained that I was quickly heading in that direction myself but that I would do my best for as long as I could.

I was kind of joking a little bit when I said that, because my symptoms were pretty mild, and I normally don’t succumb to the flu bit too easily. No sooner had I sat down in the receptionist’s chair than I started having rapidly shifting waves of hot and cold chills, both of which set solid goosebumps going all over my body. Another co-worker came to ask how I was doing, and another symptom promptly introduced itself, leaving me hacking over the side of my chair. I told her well, I was fine a moment ago, and then more coughing overtook me and I nearly retched on the floor. My supervisor came out of her office next door and bid me adieu for the day.

So, I grabbed my coat and bag and walked through the building to my nearest bus stop. I was standing inside readjusting my many winter layers and accessories when a thickly accented lady noticed my pants. They are of a heavier material and quite wide at the bottoms with a thick cuff, and she asked if she could tsee pans, they so nize. I told her that would be fine, but she was already down on her hands and knees inspecting the material and the way the cuffs had been sewn. I was looking down at the top of her head, nodding and smiling and trying to be accommodating by standing still for her when I realized that the contents of my stomach were in my throat and that the top of her head was in grave danger. I managed to swallow it all down with a grimace, wished her a good day, and left to meet my bus.

The bus ride was lulling at first, until the general vibration of the machine entered my body, gently rumbling my stomach into mild contractions. I knew I could keep it down until I got off at my stop but after that, there would be no guarantees. And there definitely weren’t. I made it about half a block away from the bus stop on my walk home and found myself gripping the wall of a telephone booth, buckling and heaving and generally being one of those scarey people on the street you avoid looking at and cross to the other side to avoid. I was terribly embarrassed, which frankly, is stupid, because it’s not like I could control that sort of thing, but that embarrassment did not compare to the embarrassment I felt when I was straightening myself up and wiping off my mouth and noticed that I had not puked outside the telephone booth as I had planned but had thrown up inside the telephone booth. In my hurry to avoid hitting my mohair coat, I had neglected to notice which side of the booth’s wall I was vomiting on. Still like me?

Now I am at home, and I’ve decided to baby myself and have a warm bath and then crawl into bed with fluffy blankets and a lemony drink (possibly topped up with some liqueur) and read comics (Harvey Pekar) and maybe sniffle pitifully when the Fiery One comes home so he can baby me a little more.

While I was riding the bus home this afternoon, I started playing the License Plate Game with myself. The License Plate Game, if you are playing with Canadian license plates, is played by taking the three-letter combination in order and finding a word that has those letters in it. It’s a good road trip game. For instance, ENY might be cENturY, RTD might be geneRaTeD, or MIC might be MedIoCre. The idea is to find a less obvious word. Normally, the rule is that you cannot use proper nouns, but on the bus I decided to try to be as creative as possible by finding the least common names with the three letters in order. One license plate had RBT on it, and I came up with the name RaBindranaTh. Good, huh? That name also made me decide to look up some poetry by an author of the same name.

In My Sky at Twilight” by Rabindranath Tagore

A conversation between Tagore and Albert Einstein

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