Buster the Delicate

I should have anticipated it, of course. When we spent time in the ER the other day, I should have realized that there would likely be an opportunistic bug somewhere on the premises, which meant that – of course – we’d be spending time at the doctor’s today, because Buster gets absolutely everything he is exposed to.

Yes. He’s 6′ 1″, 200 lbs of brawn, and he’s as delicate as Camille. Sneeze on him and you take him out. Cough on him, and he’s in bed for a week.

This time it’s the old standby, streptococcae, which finds Buster the way lint finds a black pantsuit.

The boy has to sing this weekend, Handel. In Italian. Basso Profundo. And he has to play his saxophone. Some classical piece. And then he wanted to participate in an open mic night at a jazz club.

Instead, he is on the couch, sweating all over the furniture, and whispering and whimpering, because he can’t practice and he can’t play baseball, and what is life without music and baseball?

I’ll tell you why he gets sick all the time: it’s not because he doesn’t get sufficient nutrition (I cook good meals and shove vitamins at him all the time), it is because he is completely and utterly orally fixated, and cannot keep his hands, his pencils, his keys, his books, his rulers, bottlecaps, playstation controller, stapler or remote control, or the mail, out of his mouth.

When he was little, he was into the pacifier. Bigtime. He’d have one in his mouth and one in each hand, to make sure if he lost one, the next one would be ready. Then he moved on to rocks. For a while, I couldn’t turn my back on him without discovering – a mere moment later – that he’d shoved a few rocks into his mouth and fit them into his cheeks, like Orr shoving crabapples in his cheeks, in Catch-22. Except Buster didn’t want apple cheeks. He was just on a mission to shove something, anything, in his mouth.

This is what happens when you are forced to wean your child abruptly, as I was, due to illness. They never seem to get over it and spend the rest of their life looking for something to shove in their mouths. This is, I am convinced, why Buster chose the saxophone over the piano, which he played well. It is why he has had microphones, karaoke machines and bullhorns in his face since he was three. It is why he will, next year, be sitting before the microphone, hosting the high school afternoon radio show. The mouth must be going, and something must be near it or touching it, and if he gets to make NOISE while he’s feeding his fixation, so much the better.

So, Buster has strep. Laid low, once again, by the miniscule bacteria he could defeat if only he would keep his hands away from his mouth. Yes, he does wash his hands, a lot. It will never be enough.

Men are terrible patients. All of ’em. Even ones like Buster, with genial and pleasant natures, and sunny dispositions.

He’s too sick to read, but he always wants company. “Play scrabble with me? Or Chess?”

I know better than to play chess with him – I taught him when he was 8 and have not beaten him since he was 8 1/2. But I can beat him 25% of the time, or so, in Scrabble.

And a game of Scrabble while watching the Yankees bang heads with the Red Sox is not the worst way to spend an evening.

Blogging, as you see, is light.

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