“God, they are everywhere!” Pete groaned as he slapped at his arm. “I’m going to look like I have the freaking chicken pox by the end of the night…grrrr,” he moaned loudly before going back to his work.
“Well, keep the door shut then, crazy,” Jo, Pete’s girlfriend yelled from the back of the house. Walking back to where Pete was working on his poster board presentation for tomorrow’s Management class, Jo went to the French doors left open behind him and closed them. There, now those pesky ’ol mosquitoes will leave your delicate skin alone,” Jo said in a playfully childlike tone, hoping to burst the negative bubble Pete had resided in for the past few days.
“Whatever. They’re already all over the house,” he replied sulkily. Sighing, Jo returned to folding laundry in the back of the house. Pete always seemed to get this way when he had a big project coming up, why should this time be any different? “Just gonna have to ride it out, I guess,” she thought to herself.
Finishing her laundry, Jo walked into the kitchen and began preparing dinner. The music from Pete’s computer was blaring something particularly annoying but she barely registered the offensive tune until,
“Ugh, what is this??? Must be your music,” Pete shouted from where he was bent over his poster.
“Don’t answer, just ignore him… he’s just stressed,” Jo mumbled to herself as she waited for a pot of water to boil. Remembering the old adage about watching water boil, Jo decided to check in with her beloved to see his progress and sprinkle some hopefully helpful positive remarks on his work. “Looks great, babe,” she said over Pete’s shoulder as she looked over the display.
“It’s all smudged, it looks terrible,” Pete said flatly. So much for her ‘positivity sprinkling’ attempt. Sighing for possibly the 8,509,006 time that day, Jo returned to her boiling water, which sadly, was much more receptive to her attentions than her boyfriend currently was.
Sitting down to Pete’s favorite meal of spaghetti and meatballs, Jo hoped that Pete would be able to relax long enough to enjoy a home-cooked meal before returning to his project (and foul mood). She more than hoped as Pete’s negativity was beginning to affect her and turn her usual sunny disposition murky and despondent.
“Bleck, this tastes like crud,” he complained between chews.
Shock was not the right word. Anger wasn’t right either. The emotion evoked in Jo as she stared at her typically loving and sweet boyfriend brooding over his spaghetti could only be described as shocknger.
“That’s it!” Jo screamed as she threw down her fork, splattering a fine mist of spaghetti sauce over the entire table. “I’m so sick of you bitching about every little thing! I get it- you’re stressed, but guess what? I don’t care! That’s right! I don’t care that everything seems to be getting on your last nerve or that nothing seems to be working out right. Your attitude is for the birds, its wearing me down and I’m sick of it. And then, to complain about food that I went to the trouble of cooking for you?!? Freaking unbelievable,” Jo finished in a huff.
Staring at his usually reserved and patient girlfriend, Pete was speechless for, perhaps, the first time in recent memory. Upon reflection, he guessed he had been complaining quite a bit more than usual. “Better apologize before she decides to dump the spaghetti on my head,” he thought. Just as Pete opened his mouth to apologize, a strange look suddenly altered his features and before Jo knew it, Pete had collapsed on the ground.
“Oh my God, Pete!” Jo screamed rushing from her side of the table to where Pete was sprawled on the floor. Unable to solicit a response, Jo grabbed her cell phone and dialed 9-1-1.
Fluttering his eyes open, Pete looked around the room, attempting to comprehend where he was- which was especially difficult with the headache that felt like a small garden gnome was attempting to hollow out his skull to make it his new home. “Ugh, my head,” Pete’s voice sounded strange to his ears as his brought his hand up to cradle his head.
“Pete!” a voice from the far side of the room rang out.
“I know that voice,” Pete said with surging emotion, unsure exactly, why his girlfriend’s voice had elicited the strong reaction. “Where am I? What happened?” he managed to say while still trying to choke back tears.
“Oh babe, I’m so glad you are ok!” Jo was embracing him and shedding her own tears. Lifting a little off of Pete to look him in the eyes she continued. “When you collapsed on the floor like that, I thought… I thought I might have lost you,” she was hardly able to voice the last few words and collapsed in his arms again, slamming him back against the hospital bed with noticeable force. Pete’s arms felt weak, like the strength it took to embrace Jo was the equivalent of benching three times his weight. “How long have I been here?” he asked, almost afraid of the answer.
“Two weeks and three days,” Jo said with tears still in her voice. “The doctors didn’t know what was the cause of your deterioration at first, it took them several days before they discovered what you were suffering from. Turns out, those mosquitoes you were complaining about? Well, apparently some of them are a carrier for this mutated strain of malaria that is sweeping across the south. I had never heard of it, but when they asked me about your behavior leading up to your collapse they became convinced that you had been infected. They claimed the most indicative symptom is extreme agitation and expressions of negativity,” Jo finished carefully.
Pete thought about all he had just learned. New form of malaria? More than two weeks unconscious in a hospital bed? It almost too much for his thumping brain to handle. Finally, looking up at Jo with a smug grin and a glimmer in his eye, Pete said, “Sounds like I was bit by the negativity bug”.
Trying not to give Pete the satisfaction of a laugh, Jo bit her lip before replying, “Well, I should have known something was wrong. I mean come on, my spaghetti is freaking awesome”.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Someone in our house has been bit by the negativity bug (hint: it ain’t me). Poor Andy, he gets so stressed every time he works on a feature he swears he’ll never do it again… until the next one. Unfortunately (for me) when Andy gets stressed, he has the less-than appealing tendency to complain… a lot. Today is one of those days. Now I, by no means, am immune to this same affliction, truth be told, I can be worse than him, but today- good God man, put a cork in it! I love him, so I’m willing to tolerate this (for short bursts of time) and thankfully the man is smart enough not to complain about my cooking, (for surely flames would burst from my eye sockets and instantly incinerate him should he be so careless). He’s probably going to read this now and complain about me writing about his complaining… tough cookies, I’m willing to take the risk.
Love & Squirrels.