I woke up from a sound sleep last night with an upset stomach. It growled like an angry grizzly bear annoyed by some hipster campers trying to get a wi-fi connection near his personal salmon stream. I got up and looked around in my cabinets for something, anything to keep my puke record untarnished.
I found nothing.
I headed back to bed with a delicate and cautious step. I hurt even worse now – this was not the time for Pepto-Bismol to be missing. I felt like one of those bad actors on a late night TV commercial, acid reflux bubbling up like old faithful at Yosemite. Then when he takes his Previcid, everything is better and the world is a great place to live again. I love television.
While the next 45 minutes, 2700 seconds, of uncomfortable sleeplessness passed, one queasy second at a time, I counted.
Why? I don’t know.
Sometime you just get delirious when you’re sick and want it to be over. You want to be back in Neverland, asleep, especially when no meds of any kind are to be found. At least I do. So I counted. I counted LEDs on my laptop screen, square footage of my house, miles to work. The quickest way to the mall, and the vision that came to me was remarkable. Mrs. Catoe, my high school Algebra teacher, her shriveled face and bee-hive hair swirled in my head like a fast break on my best friends pool table when we tried to pretend we were hustlers in a movie.
Finally, I fell asleep.
When I woke up this morning, all seemed fine. A-okay.
I wondered if counting could be my new cure all my disorders. “I can count on Sesame Street’s Count for relief,” I joked with myself. And even though it wasn’t clever, I still chucked to myself.
Close call last night.
I laid in bed for a few minutes listening to the “too ugly for TV” DJs banter back and forth over the beginning of Madonna’s Papa don’t preach song, waiting for a possible abdominal disruption. Just in case something was hiding out from the night before, like a sneaky commando in the trenches of my innards, getting ready to toss a little grenade of gurgle.
While I waited it came to me that Mikey had swiped my Pepto about three months ago. And counting again, I figured it was 87 days, or more precisely…2092 hours earlier.
He has rushed in after a night of alcohol, calling and checking that I was awake. Complaining of his imminent death to be caused by Tequila and tacos. “My stomach contains the Mexican Revolution,” he told me. “I’m dying.” “I’ve got just the thing,” I said. “It’s small and pink, take it.”
I dreamed then of being a doctor.
I pictured myself saving lives.
I pictured patient after patient, lying on sweat-soaked gurneys, with the most awful stomach cramps in the history of disease, with convulsions, and a priest by their side. In the nick of time I would show up in a whirl of medical glory and spoon feed the miracle drug I had just invented in my laboratory. And they would be cured! And I would be the super-hero doctor forever!
After letting Mike take my bottle of milky pink elixir, he just left. Not even a “Gracias.”
I thought he was dying.
When I ask him I’m sure he won’t remember Pancho Villa shooting up his stomach.
And I’m positive he won’t care if I explain my disappointment at my failure to become a Hippocratic hero.
For today, though, I will leave my thoughts of Pepto-Bismol behind.
And resolve not to discuss it with Mike for another two weeks. 345 hours. 20,700 minutes.
The bottle is probably just sitting on his kitchen counter, just one of the 43 things sitting there.
Another forgotten number.