I’ve noticed something curious about my use of the word exciting lately. I’ve started using it in both the positive and negative sense. As in:
You’re going to New York! Exciting!
You’re driving the bus for the school field trip. Exciting!
Being the language geek that I am, I am more amused than I should be by the times when the listener doesn’t know which way I’m intending the adjective. As in:
A book signing at the library. Exciting!
Backcountry Skiing. Exciting!
Living in a ski town, most people are thrown off by the above examples.
Anyway, it got me thinking about how some things relatively common to the human experience, like snowstorms or the stomach flu, always inspire such great excitement. It’s like we never build up a tolerance to this stuff.
In all fairness, snowstorms in Vancouver were exciting. The city’s snow clearing budget was as unpredictable as the annual snowfall, and more often than not, that meant side streets weren’t cleared until just before the rain came to wash it all away. Almost no one had snow tires and almost everyone experienced the exhilaration of the four-wheel drift at least once a season. Exciting!
So, I was pretty surprised when the first snowfall hit Whistler this year and the locals greeted it with the same buzz, the same speculation, the same attempt to control the uncontrollable – the same excitement, as our Vancouver neighbours. If you were on the highway in your four-wheel drive with your snow tires on, it suddenly became of the utmost importance to call/text everyone you knew to complain about the tourists.
“Seriously, I just saw a Volkswagen Van with summers on sliding sideways down the middle of the highway for at least a hundred feet! What were they thinking?”
From the safety of gridlock in a mountain-ready vehicle, this stuff was exciting!
But, as I recently learned, nothing quite tops the excitement of the stomach flu. I was e-mailing a friend the other night when my ten year old stumbled into the living room.
“I’m going to throw up! No, I need to lay down. No, I’m going to throw up.”
I steered him into the bathroom, lay a towel down on the floor and wiped down the toilet seat.
“No, I just really need to lie down.”
I redirected him to the closest bed where my husband Squirrel was already sleeping.
“Blaaarghhh, blaaarghhh, bleccchhhh, blaarghhh…..”
Squirrel bolted upright:
“He’s throwing up on the bed!”
“Gee, thanks for pointing that out…I’ll run him a bath, do you think you clean this up?”
“I don’t think I can,” Squirrel said quite honestly before disappearing down the hallway to crawl in with our other son.
I wasn’t sure I could either. How does vomit get underneath the night table and inside slippers?
And, just like that, my night became a lot more exciting. I mean, the sound of my 10-year-old whispering “save me” between rounds of dry heaving is just so much more, I don’t know…inspiring than say, a forty-four year man laid up on the couch with the sniffles begging for DayQuil.
Unable to hold anything down including water, I pulled a chair up next to the poor limp thing and begged him to take little drops of weak tea from a teaspoon.
“See it’s making you feel better,” I coaxed, “you haven’t thrown up in at least 20 minutes…”
“Blaaaarrrggghhh….Mom, no more tea.”
Twelve hours later, he finally felt well enough to unfurl from the fetal position he’d assumed on the living room chair and crawl into bed. As I waited for him to succumb to a much-needed sleep, we reminisced about the horrors of the evening:
“I think I barfed like sixteen times!”
“Probably more like twenty.”
And I realized we hadn’t spent so much time together locked in battle against a common evil since he was three months old in the throes of colic. And, it was just so…exciting….