Conversation with my Mother
Mother: So how was your visit with your in-laws?
Mother: Oh, no. What happened?
Me: Well, the trouble started when Chris’s mother attempted to kiss my baby with a gigantic herpe on her lip.
Me: Yes. Chris was holding him, and I saw her enter the house with this glistening penny-sized aberration. Immediately, all the blood drained from my body, And then, she made a b-line towards Brautigan and puckered up.
Me: I practically pole vaulted over the couch to grab him.
Mother: Did she kiss him?
Me: Ahch. It all happened so fast. All I can tell you is I heard a smooch but I’m almost positive it hit the air next to his cheek.
Mother: Oh, You poor thing. What did chris do?
Me: He initiated the routine we always have when germs are present. He said, “Oooh I think someone has a poopy diaper!” And we whisked Brautigan away to a private room. Chris was trying to calm me down. He knows how I get. He kept saying, “Don’t worry, her lips did-not-make-contact.” I had him convince me again and again while we scoured Brautigan’s face with wipes and hydrogen peroxide. But I was on herpe patrol for the rest of the day. Do you know how exhausting it is to keep your eye on someone’s herpe for 24 hours?
Mother: Chris should have said something.
Me: He did, and she said, “It’s nothing. It already has a scab.”
Me: Well, she doesn’t understand. She had the flu once and told me it was ok for her to be around the baby because she had a flu shot.
Mother: Oh boy.
Me: So needless to say, I didn’t sleep last night.
Mother: Why didn’t you call me?
Me: I was too upset. I stayed up doing Google searches on every variety of herpes known to man. Did you know that most herpes in the world are contracted before two years old by so-called loved ones?
Mother: No, I did not.
Me: Neither did I. And then I found this terrible study all about the cognitive implications of getting cold sores at a young age. Well it went downhill from there. All I could do was visualize my beautiful boy 30 years from now, walking around dazed and illiterate with oozing sores all over the place. I woke Chris up three separate times to divorce him. And by the third time, he was so tired of me, he thanked me, because he said he didn’t want to have to look at me ever again.
Mother: Jessica… It wasn’t his fault.
Me: I know. But it gets worse.
Mother: Oh no.
Me: When Brautigan woke up, there was a red mark on the upper left quadrant of his lip... In the same exact spot as Chris’s mother’s herpe.
Mother: Jessica, please tell me you don’t think Brautigan contracted herpes in 24 hours.
Me: It’s very rare. But I found two reported cases that were transmitted over night.
Mother: Jessica, come on
Me: Or, it could be that his fingernails need to be clipped and his fingers were in his mouth teething all night. But that’s beside the point. Do you have any idea what that was like for me? And what it was like later on that day to see my son and Chris’s mother posing for a photograph with matching herpes??
Me: I’m aging five more years just thinking about it.
Mother: Well, Jessica, perhaps it’s time to stop thinking about it.
Me: In 14 days, after the incubation period, I will stop thinking about it.
Mother: You’re going to make yourself sick.
Me: I can’t help it.
Mother: You need to focus on your logical mind, instead of the prehistoric part of your brain that worries about situations which haven’t yet occurred.
Me: Mother, panic is like a vaccine for me. If I ingest a bit of doom before doom occurs, my life will become immune to the doom. Of course now that I just said that, I probably contaminated the whole process.
Mother: That is really sick, Jess. You can only control so much, darling. Did you know that some researcher took swabs of shopping carts at a Wal-Mart and found feces and MRSA on nearly every one?
Mother: Well, my point in telling you is that you can either purchase little gloves and a mask for Brautigan or know that his immune system is very strong and that he will be ok.
Me: That sounds good on paper Mother, but I know you are just as much of a germaphobe as I am.
Mother: I never said there was anything wrong with being a germaphobe. As long as you’re based in reality. Remember what happened when I accepted the frozen Ikea meatballs from my neighbor?
Mother: Never have I accepted food from anyone, that’s a big no-no for me, but I was hungry and curious because I’d never had them before, and I figured they were fine— after all, they were frozen and unopened. How could I have predicted they’d be recalled the very next day for containing horsemeat? But I didn’t stay up obsessing. I gagged my fair share but I knew I was ok and I moved on.
Me: Very well, Mother.
Mother: You need to give yourself a break, Jess. You are doing a wonderful job raising your son.
Me: You think so?
Mother: Do you hear that?
Mother: I’m giving you a standing ovation!
Me: Thank you, Mother.
Mother: And I think it’s beautiful that you love your baby as much as you do.
Mother: Which is almost as much as I love you.
Me: Aw, that was sweet.