My son has this friend. We’ll call him ‘Timmy.’
My son loves Timmy. Everything is, ‘Timmy this,’ and ‘Timmy that.’ “Timmy loves lima beans! They’re his favorite food. Here comes the airplane,” and yep, he ate ’em right up… that kind of nonsense. The bromance? It’s hot.
The problem? Timmy’s a little sicko. Literally. Every time we see him and his mother, Tammy (I kid you not) he’s either coughing or sneezing or some combination of the two and they’re 2, I get it, they’re little Petri dishes. But two words: Stay home.
Boogers are not for sharing. Saliva is not for swapping. Lima beans? Ugh. Definitely not for human consumption.
Listen, I like Tammy, really I do, I just would like her a lot better if her son weren’t constantly getting my son sick, but it seems like everywhere we turn, there’s little Timmy ready to ruin the next seven-to-10 days of our lives, leaving me again to question why I gave up drinking in the first place.
Being home with a sick kid sucks. You can’t go anywhere. You can’t do anything and never, ever will you look at a Hebrew National hot dog in quite the same way. Really, my son knocked it outta the ballpark on that one and threw up everywhere — presumably just like Timmy before him. And why is it always at two in the morning? Is that, like, the agreed-upon time for kids under the age of three to regurgitate stadium-slash-picnic food? Is there some secret toddler code I wasn’t made aware of? And why does it always have to be something like hot dogs?
Can I just say, there are some things you can’t un-smell, especially after three days of sitting in a garbage bag corroding my down comforter, but here I found myself with 30 minutes on the clock before the lights shut and the doors locked on the cleanest, most pristine place on Earth — yes, my own personal version of heaven, the Wilton Laundromat.
And then the unthinkable happened.
Do you know those bubble machines? The kind you buy at Target or Walmart, the ones you spend 30 minutes trying to figure out how to assemble so your kids can play with it for exactly three minutes before sending all of the bubble solution puddling to the floor like little Typhoid Timmy’s saliva? That was the third washer from the right, times 300, three days ago.
I put in laundry. I put in soap. I put in quarters and I walked away. Actually, I went and picked up an iced latte at Dunkin’ Donuts and aimlessly paced around TJ Maxx, trying to convince myself that I did not need another peach-scented candle and then I returned to the laundromat and saw it — bubbles. Everywhere. And I panicked.
Seriously, I just stood there, looking around for something, anything, to keep the suds from coming, but they wouldn’t stop and the whole time of course I was cursing Tammy for bringing her snot-infested child to another please-pass-the-germs, pick-a-booger-any-booger playdate, because of course it was Timmy. Who else but Timmy to make Junior reverse the airplane on those hotdogs and send me scrambling for clean sheets and Clorox in the wee hours of the morning?
“Tammy,” I muttered to myself. So effing oblivious, so cavalier, so… calling on my phone right at that very moment. ‘Typhoid Timmy’s Mom’ flashed across the screen just as the lights went out in the laundromat. This woman literally had the worst timing.
Don’t pick up. Don’t pick up. Don’t pick up, I told myself and then, of course, I picked up. And then heard this:
“Are you at the laundromat? Carl and I just drove by and I swore I saw your car there, but then I got worried because you know it’s nine o’clock, and I said to Carl, ‘I think that’s Lesley’s car,’ but then I wasn’t sure because you know, so many people have that car. I mean yours is older looking, obviously, and there’s that dent on the side, so…”
“How can I help you, Tammy?” I interrupted, trying to keep the eyeroll out of my voice.
“Is it what?”
“You… at the laundromat?”
The dryers finally stopped and I looked at the clock. Four minutes to spare. “Um, yeah. I just had a lot of… extra laundry to do because you know how it is when the kids get sick and I’ve been cleaning up puke for days and…”
Tammy cleared her throat. I could hear Carl yammering on in the background. “I’m going to stop you right there, my friend. You had no way of knowing poor Timmy would get sick. I mean, if you want my honest opinion, Lesley, I think some of the other moms were a little miffed you brought a sick kid to a playdate, but it happens and to the best of us so please, never apologize. You had no way of knowing Timmy would catch… I guess it was a stomach bug, right? Listen, we’re all just moms, just doing the best we can. Am I right?”
“Nonono… no more buts! I forgive you, Les! Don’t give it a second thought,” she said, sounding way too bubbly. “Oh, and Carl says to stay away from the laundromats. Honestly, those places… more germs than an airplane. Seriously, you’re apt to get Typhoid or something!”
Columnist Lesley Kirschner grew up quiet, in the woods, and devoid of siblings so her hobbies quickly became reading, writing, and talking to inanimate objects. She also spent a considerable amount of time doing voice-overs for her dolls and watching too much daytime television–channel 3, sometimes channel 8, if the weather was good and the antenna wasn’t acting up. She was in attendance at school, graduated from a very much not notable college not worth mentioning, and was transplanted to Wilton with her husband, Ambler Farm‘s Farmer Jonathan and their (baby makes) three children almost a decade ago. Although she never quite found her calling in life, other than perhaps the doll voice-overs, which in hindsight were eerily convincing, she’s happy to try her hand at writing and is thankful for the support and community she found on Facebook’s Buy Nothing Wilton. Lesley realizes while this is all very exciting, she’s not winning a Pulitzer so she’ll wrap it up and be quiet. She’s had a lot of practice.