Jeff Vrabel: Sick of being sick

Jeff Vrabel

Everyone in the house is sick. They all have fevers. They all have coughs. They all make horrible sniffling sounds with their snouts, and when I say "they" I mean "me," because for a week I've sounded basically like a family of homicidal warthogs that has been trapped inside a boxcar. The baby has been leaking materials from his nose for the better part of, well, 15 months really, but it's been especially fluid and viscous in the past week or so. I am a little disgusted with myself being here. I kind of want to sleep outside, except that I saw some snakes out there once and well the sleeping idea is entirely unacceptable, obviously.

They, and I mean, we, all go to bed wrong and wake up badly. They, and I mean, we all require constant medication, usually in the form of something called Mucinex. Mucinex comes in 35 flavors, which I know, because we have all 35 in our medicine cabinet, and some are expectorants and some are for congestion and some will apparently keep you up for three days at a time, and I do not administer any to myself or my children without checking with my wife, who is the best person in the house at Mucinex organization. I literally just cough-sneezed loud enough in my house that whatever scampering animal lives outside the screen door just went rocketing up a tree, petrified. Sorry, innocent squirrel! I'll leave you out some Munich.

It is no surprise that everyone here is sick because everyone everywhere is sick. Everyone in your house is probably sick. Everyone in your office is sick, although they're still in your office, which is nice of them. Everyone at the train station is sick, the coffee shop, the gas station. This is apparently the most virulent and angry flu outbreak since the flu was created by the CIA in 1952 (look it up), which is why everyone you know is complaining of a flu and a cold and some swine flu and the scurvy and the Belgian death rattle and several different forms of rabies. If you're going outside wearing anything south of a full-on "E.T" scientist/outbreak suit, we're not hugging or shaking hands or really even just looking at each other for very long, is what I'm saying.

That said, I am fully protected, or at least as protected as I can be against a world that is obviously out to bestow many millions of germological particles upon my person. A few weeks ago my 8-year-old and I went to get flu shots, because we had been instructed to get flu shots by my wife, who was right about the Mucinex thing, and was not to be defied. For an 8-year-old he did pretty great at getting a flu shot although to be fair, he did much better after learning that I also would be getting a flu shot, because somehow the knowledge that I was being stuck too made him feel better, because I guess that's how parental interactions go? Kids are weird.

Of course naturally when you're a dad getting a flu shot, you need to act less like you're getting a flu shot and more like you're taking a leisurely spring stroll through a forest filled with pleasant breezes and endearing talkative animals, instead of what you're actually doing, which is getting stabbed with a needle that contains a virus. You have to do this because you need to project strength in the presence of your son, because that is your job, even if you do not like needles, because who likes needles I mean that's just silly.

So we got the flu shots, and everyone got the flu shots, so I think we're protected against the flu, just not the strain of extremely leaky cold, which apparently liquefies one's sinuses and, if you're a 15-month-old, turns you into a very angry baby who doesn't like Honey Nut Cheerios anymore and throws tantrums when you deny him your coffee. I'm certain they make a Mucinex for that.

Jeff Vrabel was immunized against the Belgian death rattle in 1983; it's cool. He can be reached at and followed at