Oh, how wrong I was.
The Absent-Minded Professor had been in Texas for two months at his new job, while I managed the selling of our house. I hadn't been feeling all that well, but I chalked it up to stress and too many Mike's Hard Lemonades.
Little Dude had a slight temperature the day before we left, but he seemed okay enough to go. The Absent-Minded Professor was set to meet us halfway there; he would fly into Nashville and do the remainder of the drive with us. Yay! Daddy! Daddy daddy daddy daddydaddydaddydaddy!
The first day of the trip was fine. Well, not really. We cried the whole way to the Pennsylvania / Delaware state line. After that it was fine. Our GPS System, Bossy Helga, got pretty pissed every time I made a stop, but that was her problem, not mine.
We made it most of the way through Virginia before stopping for the night. We had dinner at the hotel restaurant and old people congratulated me on how well-behaved the Young Carnivores were. What a lovely, delightful time we were having. (Here you can insert the theme music to Jaws, because it's about to turn into a chum-filled mess, and I'm as clueless as the rest of Amity Island.)
After dinner, Little Dude spiked a temp again, and the Pork Lo Maniac had a headache. Okay, well, it's been a long day, maybe we all just need some sleep. Riiiiiight.
In the morning I dosed out children's Tylenol and hit the road. The Pork Lo Maniac's headache got worse; we had to turn off the iTunes and drive in silence. So much for the soundtrack. At one point, late in the day, Bossy Helga intoned into the silence, "Drive. One hundred. Thirteen. Miles." The Pork Lo Maniac lost her feverish little mind at that point.
We pressed on. And by pressed on, I mean we listened to the Pork Lo Maniac weep while I floored it across Tennessee.
We made it to our rendezvous point: a Holiday Inn outside of Nashville, Tennessee. At this point, Little Dude, the Peanut Butter Kid, and the Pork Lo Maniac were running fevers. I realize you may be eating breakfast while you read this, so I won't give you all the gory details, but let's just say that more than one of the Young Carnivores required Pull-Ups that night.
Cookie was feeling well enough to play with a roll of tinfoil I had brought as a car activity. As the rest of us drifted in and out of consciousness, she made us tinfoil shoes. The Absent-Minded Professor arrived to quite the storybook reunion: his loving family sprawled across two beds, sweating and smelling faintly of pee, and everyone's feet wrapped in foil. Did you miss us?
In the morning, I threw up and promptly came up with a genius Revised Plan: The Absent-Minded professor would drive the minivan to Texas alone. The kids and I would rest up for an extra day, at which point we'd be well enough to fly to Dallas, expenses and public health be damned.
For the next two days, the kids and I lay around, watched pay-per-view, ordered room service, and burned through a huge supply of Tylenol. In front of several well-dressed business travelers, I burst into tears as I begged a hotel shuttle driver to go out and buy me more children's Tylenol.
This is probably the moment that I should have known that my Plan needed a detour to the nearest emergency room. But I was out of my damn mind. So on the third day, full of enough Tylenol and Sudafed to start a meth lab, we staggered past the Swine Flu Alert signs at the Nashville Airport, and got on a plane.
I swear on my new Chinese take-out menu that I did not think we had swine flu. I genuinely thought we just had a regular old virus. At a clinic in Dallas, a nurse
So, I'm sorry, people of Texas and air travellers of the world. My family brought you swine flu last fall. I'm sure the good people of Pennsylvania are excited to see what we bring back to them this summer.