So I tested positive for COVID last week. It had me down for about a week of all the typical COVID shit you've read and heard about. Aches. Congestion. Loss of taste and smell. Just a general feeling of shit.
Luckily after about 8 days I've finally come around and feel back to just about normal.
But during that time of laying on the couch trying to find different ways to pass the time I started thinking back to the olden days of when I was in school and would either 1. put on an Oscar worthy Ferris Bueller performance and fake my way into a sick day or 2. the few and far between days that seemed to happen once every fall once school got back in session where I actually was knock down drag out sick.
Both were filled with a variety of ups, downs, thrills, and bummers so for this route I chose Number 1. where yeah I may have been feeling a little shitty, but my day didn't have to be spent passed out with a hoodie and sweats on while I sweat out whatever bug had attacked me.
The sick day from school - one of American youth's universally loved and recognized days. A day that could be parlayed into an extended weekend. A day you don't have make up. A day that starts with limitless possibilities yet somehow all end the same.
Depending on your dad's personality your met with either a gentle knock and a slight open of your door or he damn near kicks the door down and flips the light on immediately. Luckily, my dad was the former. Mom was the latter. Mom is always busy doing a literal million other things in the tight window of 30 minutes or less before shipping us all off to school so dad takes care of the wake up duties.
"Let's go, bud. Time to get up." Your throat is scratchy. Your eyes are itchy. You have a little bit of a headache. You take your shot.
"I don't feel very well" you say to dad but you know that's just the first line of defense if that's even what you want to call it. He's simply a blip on the radar for the real test you're about to be put through.
"Tell your mother, see what she says", dad responds back with smartly after hearing you out for a few seconds. Shit. Now I really gotta put it on. You make your way to the kitchen where mom is hustling and bustling putting together lunches, making breakfast, chewing your siblings ass out because they somehow forgot to do their math homework the night before.
You're nervous. Whether mom is feeling like a softy or not today is going to decide whether or not you'll be dragging through the halls of another monotonous day of school or you'll be watching First Take with a cheeky smile on around 10 A.M.
"Mom" you muster up the best sick voice you can. "I don't feel that well." She turns around immediately feels your forehead then your cheek then your forehead again. "Hm. You don't feel warm. What's bothering you?" "My throat is just really sore and my head is killing me. I'm just really tired, too."
"Hm" mom says while seemingly staring right through your bullshit, "go take a shower, drink some orange juice then lets see how you feel." Mom turns away to sign the next paper she needs to sign or take the toast out of the toaster.
"Fuuuuuck" you think to yourself "why is it ALWAYS the shower and orange juice combo from her?!" You give in and do both, but you know the fight is not yet over. Sure, it makes you feel better at the time, but that throat is stilllll pretty scratchy and sore. "Do you have any tests or quizzes today?" Mom fires at you right away after you come down from the shower. "No, I really don't (like you'd tell her anyways)". She thinks…and thinks…and thinks…finally "OK go get some rest, don't want it to get any worse."
Ahhhh the relief of that walk back from the kitchen to your bedroom is more liberating for a fleeting moment or two than the feel of walking to your car on a Friday afternoon. I got the whoooole day to lay around, watch whatever I want, and sleep at any point I want to - in fact, it's encouraged. What a feeling.
The bags are packed. The siblings are getting rounded up. Their carpool ride is here, and it's time for everyone else to go to school. Your closest sibling in age gives a sarcastic "feel better" to you on her way out knowing that yep you got away with a bit of a fast one. You look out your window at them getting in the car with such smugness. "Look at those fools having to go to school today. I could never" before you lay back down with the remote in hand.
Yes, initial thought would be to go back to sleep. I mean it's 7 AM. You'd die for the chance to be asleep on any other day. But on a sick day? Well a sick day is a day to be cherished. There's a weird thrill that goes through you when the clock strikes 7:30 and you're watching your local FOX quirky reporter do a field report from a Christmas farm the specializes in corn stalk figures of Santa while you know right now you're supposed to be starting first period.
"Is this really what mom does everyday when we leave?" you ponder.
8:00 - 10:00 AM
It's time to settle in for the day. The thrill of local TV has worn off. "Let's try a movie" you say as you head to the DVD collection back then. But what's it going to be? This is a big decision. Can't waste quality hours of this precious sick day. Better make it a good one. You go with Shawshank Redemption. Again. It's comforting. It's always good. And you remind yourself once again, "Wow I'm watching Shawshank Redmeption when I normally would be learning about the Ides of March". Win all day.
Ah let's see what kind of nonsense Stephen A. and Skip Bayless are yelling about as you flip to ESPN 2. Remember, I'm talking more circa 2010-2011 so it was before the Bayless Exodus. Wow, more Tim Tebow debate nooooooo shit, but for some reason you leave it on. "I mean he does win games" you tell yourself after Skip makes his somewhat nonsensical case, but you do nod along with Stephen A while also turning the TV down juuuust a couple notches when his rebuttal comes around because the man is HEATED. "That's true, I think I'd probably want Tom Brady throwing left handed than regular Tim Tebow as my quarterback, too."
Your throat may be scratchy, and your head may still kinda hurt, but you don't have the stomach flu. It's time to eat. Mom checks in on you to see how you're feeling. You figure since you've gotten this far maybe, just maybe, she'll go out on a whim and get you some Chick-Fil-A. Hell, you'd even take Panera at this point. Out to eat food is out to eat food and it's a fucking delicacy on days when you're not in school.
You hint at it, but mom reminds you this is a sick day, not a vacation so you settle for some homemade chicken noodle soup. Not a bad consolation prize all things considered.
12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Well, you've watched a movie, you've eaten, you caught some sports takes in the middle of the day, Intentional Talk is playing on your TV for some reason. What's next? I guess go to sleep for a bit to actually take advantage of this day of not having to be in class instead of wasting it on more mindless shit. So you snooze on and off for a couple hours only to wake up to the worst…
Fuck. It's already 2:30??? School lets out at 3. The day off, as quickly as it came, has vanished even quicker. "Now I'm…just like everyone else again" as an overwhelming feel of guilt and sadness comes over you. Shit. Is this it? Can I milk another one? You just know your sister is going to be so happy to slam those giant text books down on the coffee table next to the couch filled with the spawn of sick days - makeup work. "Why'd I even go through all this effort?" you start to think to yourself. "I shoulda just fucking toughed it out, but no I had to watch Shawshank Redemption for the 150th time".
The freedom is gone. Now you're back to square one.
It's all happened exactly as you unfortunately envisioned it. Laying in front of you is a giant purple textbook with papers sticking out of it that reads "Geometry Level II" and that dreaded fucking orange vocabulary notebook with seemingly endless pages of bullshit questions to go through for a completion grade (hopefully). That's when your buddy hits you up to get on live. Just as you start to fire up your Xbox mom strikes with what she's been waiting to strike with since 7 o'clock this morning. "Whoa buddy if you're too sick to go to school, you're too sick to play XBox with Michael."
Now the plan has ultimately, all-time backfired on you. It happens every time. She knows. She KNOWS you aren't that sick. She KNOWS you're perfectly fine to one, have gone to school, and two, to play fucking XBox. But she's not going to miss the chance to pass up on this mom flex. Hell no. Time to put the head in the books and hopefully try again later.
The witching hour of all school nights but especially school nights after a sick day. It's the time when you have to decide "Am I in it for round two tomorrow or do I say fuck it, my one day was fine, I wanna do normal shit without mom holding it over my head?"
You decide the one day off was fine, but it's too much bullshit to deal with. Makeup work, your mom making you feel guilty, can't do normal fun shit once school is out and everyone else is doing it. It's just not worth it. You finish your homework that you need to do at least before morning announcements the next day, maybe take another shower, and finally hop on live around 7 p.m. All for your buddy to tell you they had three substitute teachers that day.