Let's skip the full details of the by now rote litany of how I was tormented by treacly enforced Yuletide "entertainment" that my mother annually tries (and fails) to make me enjoy — this year's electrodes-to-the-nuts being a back-to-back helping of the atrocious Radio City Musical Hall Christmas special on NBC and PBS' Boston Pops "best of" Christmas special, in other words two hours of basically the same songs on repeat with varying levels aggressive cutesiness that actually drove me upstairs into the confines of the living room like a torch wielded by a lederhosen-clad villager against the Frankenstein Monster — and cut straight to the account of how the single most boring Christmas I've ever experienced was accented by both my mom and myself falling victim to a virulent case of the dreaded Norovirus. I first heard of this foul disease by name a little over a month ago when informed of it by Jewish Warrior Princess as it ravaged the U.K., but never did I expect to be one of the legion of victims left throat-volcanoed and ass-blasted in its microscopic-but-powerful wake.
On Christmas Day my mom and I enjoyed a terrific dinner of an exquisite Harrington's smoked ham, mashed potatoes and garlic-sauteed spinach in a delectable Borsin cheese sauce, and about two hours later while seated in front of her new DVD of the first series of THE VICAR OF DIBLEY, mom got an anguished look on her face and announced she had major stomach cramps. I was reading as she mentioned it and I didn't really pay her all that much mind since she can be a bit of a drama queen (in case any of of you wondered where I got it from), but I knew something was up when my food-loving mom leapt from the couch like a kangaroo on Benzedrine and flew to the bathroom. Following the slamming of the door, the sounds of copious and violent projectile vomiting echoed as though occurring right next to me — it was more like eight feet away, really — and the assorted growls, yowls and other preternatural onomatopoeia were so fucking loud that it sounded exactly like a battle between Godzilla and Anguirus taking place for sole territorial dominion over a daikiju-sized thunder-bucket.
This apocalyptic voiding went on for a good two minutes, my mind conjuring up visuals that H.P. Lovecraft wishes he'd come up with, and when my mom wobbled out of the bathroom, sweaty and rather pale-faced — no easy feat since she has a somewhat brick-toned complexion — she collapsed on the couch like a sack of wet cement. From there things proceeded to shivering, more puking and her eventual heading to bed, there to find no sleep but many trips to the can during the course of a long and highly unpleasant night.
I took care of mom as much as one could when faced with an implacable scourge that would be gone in forty-eight hours, feeding her very bland wonton soup from a Chinese takeout place near the Fairfield border until she didn't feel so weak anymore and attempting to offer some sort of alternative to her MSNBC addiction by way of Animal Planet's usual iffy programming (I also managed to sneak in a viewing of the DEATH RACE re-imagining/remake with my pal Chris, but that's a tale for another post). I stuck around until Saturday afternoon, by which time she was more or less back to normal, and then hopped the insanely crowded Metro North train back to good ol' NYC. As I deposited myself in a seat next to a grotesquely obese kid who could not have been more than eleven years old and whose copious fat pushed the woman sitting next to him (and her minute Yorkie) nearly flat against the dirty window and myself out into the aisle, I settled in and closed my eyes in hope of a brief nap before arriving at Grand Central Station, mildly-R-rated visions of a green-eyed Internet goddess and her big-assed poodle cavorting about in my exhausted imagination...
Then, just before we hit Stamford, the stomach cramps began.
Thankfully I had not eaten a bite since my breakfast at 9AM, so, focusing on staying in a mellow state to control the escalating nausea, I kept my throat sealed for the next fifty minutes — the time it took to get from Stamford to Grand Central, and then from there the R train to the Union Street stop in Brooklyn — and when I walked through the door of my apartment I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience as I seemed to watch someone else in my form throw the deadbolt on my door and apply its chain, carefully place my luggage and prezzies out of the way, shed my clothing, and sit on the edge of the bathtub, where this curious lookalike then began to vomit so painfully and with such force that my perceptions were immediately shocked straight back into my uncontrollably heaving body.
For those of you who don't know me personally, I'm considered a big guy: I'm about 5' 10" to six feet tall (depending on who measures me), I average about 230 pounds and am mostly descended from people who were bred for hardiness and labor, so I can handle a lot physically. But let me tell you in no uncertain terms that in my forty-three years of assorted bugs and food-poisonings the fucking-up I received at the hands of the Norovirus was so bad that I nearly required someone to come and fuck me back down. Usually when confronted with even the most wrathful of viruses I can weather it by staying in bed and watching the TV or chatting on the phone, but this time out my senses were so unpleasantly overloaded that as of roughly 5PM on Saturday I made sure my apartment was as dark as possible and left the TV and stereo off, hoping to achieve what would in effect be the cheapest sensory deprivation tank possible.
What followed was a twenty-four hour period of shivering/sweltering and getting out of bed nearly every hour on the hour to expel waste from both of my tortured ends, eventually reducing the puking to nothing while the literally liquid "number 2" required the donning of undies "just in case" (and if truth be told, it was a very wise move). I made it clear to all my usual everyday contacts and cronies that I was ill and did not want to be disturbed for any reason until I advised them otherwise — all save JWP, of course — and they were kind enough to respect that, which was a good thing because by the end of the first twenty-four hours my sleep cycle was so out of whack that I had no idea if it was day or night, my existence having been altered to that of an explosively expectorating human cuckoo clock whose hourly appearances in no way bore the cute tones of the bird such devices are named for.
Hours twenty-five through forty-eight consisted of greatly-lessened trips to the now much-abused commode, several showers to wash away the sweat and other accumulated no-fun effluvium, watching episodes of SOUTH PARK I hadn't seen — "The Biggest Douche in the Universe" making me laugh and excrete at the same time, and I wasn't a bit mad about it; hey, sometimes in situations of helplessness you just have to accept the inevitable — , the Riff Trax versions of the horrendous WICKER MAN remake and the nauseating romance (among many, many other terrible elements) of STAR WARS-EPISODE II: ATTACK OF THE CLONES, both of which allowed me to briefly nap or hit the can as I found each necessary, and finally briefly rousing myself enough to take one final shower and get dressed (to say nothing of dropping of my bedding at the cleaners). I called mom to assure her I had survived, then I spoke with JWP before catching a bit of the Sunday night Fox network "Animation Domination" lineup and trying to sleep for a few solid hours at a time. By bedtime I felt I was more or less okay, but nonetheless opted to give work a miss and take it easy for one more day, which proved to be a good idea when I awoke at 2:30AM to talk to Chuck on the big white phone once again.
Monday morning I called in sick and allowed my aches and pains to die down, aided by yet more Riff Trax and the tawdry spectacle of THE MAURY POVICH SHOW, finally gathering the strength to once more leave the Vault and pick up some minor groceries. I was ravenous by the mid-afternoon so I stewed some chicken in a broth and cooked some basmati rice in it so the chicken flavor would be wholly infused, and starved though I was all I could manage was half a small bowl of the stuff, but to me it tasted like ambrosia straight from Mount Olympus. Secure in the knowledge that I was fully on the mend I went to bed, lulled to sleep by the Riff Trax skewering of 300, a film that seems even more bizarre and dreamlike when you're coming off of two days of reality-altering, bi-directional spewage.
But then, SURPRISE!!! I awoke bolt upright at 2AM to perch on my bathtub's edge once again and stare down into the Toilet Duck-cleansed maw of that damned manmade porcelain Charybdis, violently heaving up what little nourishment had reached my innards over the past two agonizing days. That dizzying task accomplished, utterly spent, wrung out and naked as the day I entered this miserable world of miserableness, I collapsed atop my thick comforter and my pores began to issue sweat like I was a bizarre novelty lawn sprinkler ("New from Ronco! It's the life-size Sprinkler Spook™! Just in time for Spring!"), flushing the last of the vile bio-toxins from my flabby, high-yella carcass as I fell into blessed unconsciousness.
Awaking in a more refreshed state than I'd been in for days, I came in to work knowing that it would be one of those classic holiday blowoff days in which a good number of the design 'ho house's staff would likely be out and my coming in would basically amount to me filling a seat for eight hours with little to do. My Christmas at home had been a thudding bore — although minus the usual dysfunctional Olympics, so at least that was something — except for when I was playing Florence Nightengale, and what remained of the weekend was consumed by a relentless microbe with a vicious sense of ballistic timing, but the one thing — the ONE GODDAMNED THING — that kept me going and gave me hope through all of it was knowing that I'd be seeing the Damned, one of my three favorite bands of all time, on New Years Eve...
Well, guess again.
Earlier today I received the following from an anonymous Vault-reader and double-checked it online. It's no cruel hoax:
DECEMBER 30, 2008
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
THE DAMNED FORCED TO POSTPONE NY & NJ APPEARANCES
Due to severe illness, The Damned will not be able to complete the North American dates of their world tour. The New year's Eve show at the Blender Theater at Gramercy and the January 2nd show at Asbury Park's Wonder Bar have been canceled. Refunds are available at point of purchase.
Since October, The Damned have been on tour throughout the US and UK in support of their latest album, So, Who’s Paranoid?, which was released in the United States on December 12.
At this time, the band wishes to extend their apologies to their fans and look to reschedule shows soon.A publicist's number was included for further inquiries and I called to see if the tickets could be used when the band rescheduled, but the very nice publicist advised me to just get my money back because there was no way of knowing when the band would be back in the States.
With that blow, coupled with the aftereffects of the Norovirus — which is what the Damned have; I made sure to ask — and my state of mind in general following Christmas I'm just going to try and have as mellow of a New Year's Eve as possible. I'm going to retire to the Vault with a stack of DVDs and just say "fuck it all." Here's to 2009 being an improvement on this wretched year, and to the Yuletide of 2008, a time that may just live on in my memories as the WORST CHRISTMAS EVER!!!