Faust and the Flu

Rob Zappulla

Guest Contributor

 

You know that saying, “Friendship is like pissing your pants. Everyone can see it, but only you can feel it’s true warmth?” That saying is about peeing your pants and there is a good reason why the same saying cannot be used for pooping your pants…especially when you’re in tenth grade.

Now let me backtrack just a little bit. The year was 2010, the month was February, and Lady Antebellum was all the rage on the airwaves. My tenth grade World Literature class had been studying Goethe’s (not Gotye, he wasn’t a thing yet…remember this is 2010) Faust, a German play about a man who believes all the knowledge in the world couldn’t make him happy. He strikes a deal with the devil (as one does in Germanic folklore) for all the knowledge in the world, and in exchange he grants the devil permission to take his soul in the event that he achieves a moment of true happiness (like that could ever happen). This was the kind of unit in school where you only read the first act of the play and not the second because the syllabus was poorly timed. That being said, I never got to find out how it ended. (A similar thing happened in sixth grade where we only read Chapters 6 & 7 of Tom Sawyer and it was even more racist out of context).

Like I mentioned, it was February 2010. That means winter in New England, which means if you don’t get the flu, you’re not a cool kid. The worse the flu, the cooler you are (it’s basic trigonomics). Let’s just say that in February 2010, I was the coolest kid on the face of the planet. Out of school for a week and a half, accompanied by my dog and daytime television, my innards were not agreeing with my diet of orange Gatorade and orange Jell-O (neither of which contain any trace of actual oranges).

My mom stayed home from work the first two days of my sickness to make sure I didn’t keel over and die, but when we both realized that I’d be confined to my bed for the long haul and agreed that I could stay home by myself for the duration. That was like Faust making the deal with the devil…only my mom isn’t the devil…just for the sake of the story, let’s make these two events analogous.

The next day, my mom left more orange Gatorade and orange Jell-O by my bedside table and turned on the TV – the remote nowhere to be found. My dog, Belle, was perched at the foot of my bed, kind of cutting off circulation to my right foot, but I had bigger problems: I couldn’t move.

If you’ve ever had the flu bad enough, you know that it can get to the point where your body is so fatigued and so fucking tired of orange Gatorade and orange Jell-O that moving a limb is seemingly impossible. The Today Show was blaring from the television, but I was far too tired to get up to change the channel, even though I was (and still am) adamantly pro-Good Morning America.

Disgruntled, I let out a huff. Maybe it was a little too forceful of a huff, because Belle began to whimper and bolted off the bed as if being chased by an invisible force. Then, I smelled it. It was the smell that someone above the age of five should never perpetuate outside the confines of a bathroom. Unsure of the gravity of the situation, I mustered all my energy to shift my body just a little bit to the right.

Yup. There it was. The warmth: excruciating. The texture: indescribable. The humility: as if a million Claire Dunphy’s were burning a solitary hole through my soul. I had pooped the bed. In the midst of this panic, I came to the realization of three things:

1.) It was 10 A.M.
2.) I had not an ounce of energy left in my body
3.) My mom would not be home from work until 3 P.M.

This must be hell. Lying in my own shit, watching The Today Show with the remote nowhere in sight, orange Gatorade and orange Jell-O mocking me from the bedside table, smugly giving each other high fives for their job well done, and my own dog abandoning my side in my hour(s) of need. The devil did this to me because I thought I was well enough to stay home sick all by myself.

For the next several hours, I was like one of those old, dying, Latina grandmothers you see in movies, teetering into and out of consciousness, flashing through scenes from my youth, and pretending to count rosary beads, pleading for God to take me into his glorious kingdom.

“Rob?” I heard from a far away land (really in the doorway to my room). “What is that smell?” It was my mother. She gasped. She figured it out. “You’ve got to be kidding me,” she said (she had missed a perfectly good opportunity to say “shitting me,” but that’s some hindsight bias for you).

“No puedo…el diablo está aquí” I muttered (I was in Spanish 3 at the time, very impressivo if you ask me).

“Get out of bed, clean yourself up, and put your sheets into the washing machine,” she said with a single Claire Dunphy look that conveyed a million Claire Dunphy looks.

I got out of bed faster than you could say Quidditch (don’t look back in this story to try and find the Harry Potter reference that sets this one up, because it doesn’t exist…to my knowledge).

In the end, Faust threw away his underwear, wiped his own bum, changed his sheets, took a swig of orange Gatorade and a nibble of orange Jell-O and hopped back into bed. He had forgotten to change the channel, though, and it appeared that they were on the ninth hour of The Today Show.

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