You think everything is cooking along just fine: laundry's drying on the line, dinner's simmering on the stovetop, radio's playing your favorite song, and then: BAM!
"Mom! MOM! Aphrodite just threw up all over the livingroom carpet! MOM! Come here quick!"
See what I mean? It's awful. So much for those dinner plans. You're scrubbing vomit out of ancient Berber wall-to-wall, all the while knowing that this is just the beginning. Stomach flu has a way of traveling like lightning through a family of 6.
So the suspense! The suspense could kill ya! Who's next? When and where? What kinds of containment policies do we enact, effective immediately? Throw-up buckets distributed throughout the house? Draconian hand-washing policies? Child isolation tactics? The mother's brain immediately shifts into overdrive, formulating and reformulating plans of action, all the while knowing that resistance is most probably futile, and that the next few days are going to be a living, breathing (or holding-one's-breath) Hell.
I've been noticing over the last few years that my tolerance for suspense has diminished dramatically. So dramatically, in fact, that I have no tolerance for suspense at all. None. Perhaps it dates back to the robbery in Johannesburg, but I think it started before that. Years of mini-traumas having to do with vomit on carpet, lost school-outing permission slips, and teenaged temper tantrums have rubbed my nerves down to their last raw end.
Detective stories? Fifty pages into it, and I'm reading the last chapter because I can't stand the suspense. Who the heck did it? I can't STAND this!
Movies? No way. We watched Valkyrie with Tom Cruise on pay-per-view the other night (I know, don't ask, I didn't choose it) and in spite of Cruise's calm demeanor throughout, I was squirming in my seat after 20 minutes and had to eventually leave the room. Could have been Tom Cruise's wooden acting too, but mainly it was the soundtrack that got to me.
Every. Single. Second. Ominous music. More ominous-er now. Even more ominous. And damn, he's just raising one eyebrow in a meeting with Nazi officers. What will happen when he raises both eyebrows? God, I feel sick with anxiety! Time to leave the room and
To prove what a wimp I am, I only need describe my behavior during Robert Downey Jr.'s The Ironman. I watched it with 23-year old Tarquin and his friend. Despite the deliciously calming effect of RDjr's chocolatey brown eyes, I was whimpering within 10 minutes. "Oh! No! Tarq! What's happening next? Are they going to be okay? Tarq!! TARQ!!! Ooooo, I can't stand it! Oh no! Don't go in there! No! No don't! Oh no, he went in! Oh, oooo! AAAAAH! Oh NO!!! What happened? Is he going to live? OMG!"
Tarquin was rolling his eyes, laughing. "This movie's PG-13, Ma! Calm down! Do you want me to tell you how it ends so you can relax?"
In case you're wondering, the movie is described as "Rated PG-13, for some intense sequences of sci-fi action and violence, and brief suggestive content." Maybe I need more suggestive content and less action and violence. I think this pretty much puts everything except G-rated movies off the table. Next pay-per-view? Pixar's Ratatouille or Wall-E.
Although having just read the plot summary for Ratatouille, I'm already concerned:
"Remy is a rat, constantly risking his life in an expensive French restaurant because of his love of good food..."
This might still end up being too much suspense for me. I think I'd be better off knitting.