Sunday, October 13, 2013

Low prices, pink eyes

“There’s a very good chance that I will be dead before this toothpaste is gone,” I said, dropping a box of gallon-sized tubes into our cart.  

“That’s morbid,” my wife Kara said.

“Not really.  I could probably see our grandkids graduate medical school by the time this toothpaste runs out,” I said. 

When you’re shopping at a warehouse club, these are the kinds of calculations you make.

“That’s it, Crest.  You got me to spend twenty bucks on toothpaste today.  Now I’m out.  Forever,” you say.

“Eh!  Eh!” said our son Zack from his stroller, pointing at the guy handing out cheese samples.  I’m convinced that Zack could talk if he wanted to, but he may just choose to point and say, “Eh!  Eh!” for the rest of his life. 

“Do you take this woman to be your lawfully wedded wife?” the officiant will ask.

“Eh!  Eh!” Zack will reply, pointing at the woman in the wedding dress.  We’ll all know what he means, so that will be good enough. 

I thanked the man for the cheese sample and handed it to Zack.  He grabbed it with both hands, held it near his lips for a moment, then launched it overboard.  Desire is a fickle thing for an 18-month-old.

The other shoppers didn’t know that Zack was flinging biohazards around the store.  They just strolled past, rolling their 50-gallon drums of Gatorade down the aisle, unaware of the danger. 
The previous day, we’d gotten a call from Zack’s daycare, asking us to pick him up because his face was melting.  Those weren’t their exact words, but they might as well have been.

Our family has dealt with seven cases of pinkeye this year: two for each kid, one for Kara, one for the dog, and one for my mom, who made the mistake of stepping foot in our house.  If you’re not familiar with pinkeye, it’s a condition that makes the contents of one’s skull come extruding out through one’s eyeballs, as far as I can tell.

I’m the only member of our family who hasn’t gotten it this year, because I have not touched my face since mid-2011.  Having two kids in daycare has also given me a superhuman immune system, as I am constantly coated in parasites, viruses and, somewhat incidentally, peanut butter.

The other shoppers in that store, though, wouldn’t have had the same hard-won protection.  Zack had been rubbing his eyes all day.  We’d tried to quarantine him in the stroller, but he’d figured out a way to catapult his germs, via aged Vermont cheddar.  I quickly scooped up the cheese in a napkin and dropped it into a trash can, before any innocent passersby could get infected.  Simply glancing at pinkeye sideways can cause it to latch onto your eyes and begin extruding your brains, just like cable news.

“Oh, hey, mums!  Can you put some in the cart?”  Kara said.

“I’m so sorry.  You drew the short straw, mums,” I whispered, apologizing to the unlucky plant as I put it in our cart.  The only plants that survive in our house are the ones our parents remember to water when they visit. 

Once we’d purchased a lifetime’s supply of stuff we didn’t really need, we picked up Evan, our four-year-old, at daycare, hosed him off with hand sanitizer, and headed home.

Over dinner, Evan tasted one of our new purchases and said, “I like my old chicken nuggets better.”

“Well, we can go back to the old kind, just as soon as you eat a trash bag full of the new kind first,” I replied.

“Eh! Eh!” Zack chimed in, pointing at the dog for some reason.   

Somewhere around that time, without thinking about it, Kara must have rubbed her eyes, or looked sideways at Zack.  Make that eight cases this year.

You can get a bulk discount on Mike Todd at

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