There was one winter, the first winter Shaun and I were together, that we were both horribly sick. Shaun had been laid off and I’d injured my back playing soccer the fall before (and was still limping around gingerly), so it was kind of insult to injury. We weren’t sick like hospital or medical intervention sick, we just kept catching every little thing that was going around that winter. One of us was sick constantly (sometimes both of us at once) for about two or three months straight. Later we discovered a wall full of mold as the window had been leaking into it all winter and I’m not saying it was to blame but I doubt it helped at all.
It was one of those winters that brought a truly miserable flu with it. I ran a fever for days, my skin hurt, my hair hurt, watching TV hurt and sleeping was miserable. Everything in my body ached and fluctuated between burning hot and freezing cold every two seconds. I was on winter break from school luckily, as it took me at least a week to even get up and around again.
Now, down the road from us was a Chinese food buffet, and my father can’t say no to Chinese food or buffets. This place in particular was a real dive though. I’m not sure how much of the story is true, but they got closed down when two cops chased a guy they were trying to arrest through the restaurant’s kitchen. That part is true, but the story that came out was that one of the cops saw the state of things, and actually vomited. You name it, they had it-rats, mice, insects, contamination, mold, and bad fridges. They closed that thing down faster than you can close a tab of porn when your parents walk in.
Before that happened though (however slightly), my dad stopped in and ate before dropping by our apartment. He called from the buffet to ask what to bring us, and I forbid him from bringing anything over. We didn’t know how nasty the place was, but I’d hardly choked down more than toast in the last few days and didn’t even want to hear the word ‘Chinese food’, let alone smell any.
But no. From my death nest on the couch, I opened the little to-go container he handed me hesitantly, and was mortified at what I found.
The restaurant had been serving whole octopuses. Little tiny guys, looking leathery and slightly shriveled, just put out to nom on. So of course he stuffed one in a little paper container and brought it to my apartment, thinking we’d enjoy it. I remember just staring at it, perched directly on a box of chocolates someone else had brought over (does no one love the sick?), where he’d placed it for display, I guess. Shaun and I didn’t want to touch it, we didn’t want it in the garbage, and I sure as shit wasn’t about to walk my feverish ass out to the dumpster. We debated for a while, and finally Shaun nabbed it with a paper towel and bought it a one-way ticket on the porcelain express. There mere thought of that little dried up cephalopod kept me from eating for the rest of the day.
Did I mention Shaun and I really, really love octopuses?