rub some dirt on it

So, I tested positive for covid.

Keep in mind, I worked at a Mexican bar for two summers in a row where people committed atrocious sins like double dipping in the salsa and tipping less than 20% to their very cute waitress, and I never once tested positive. I partied in Roman bars where people were packed in like sardine cans and our collective body heat could have torched the top of a creme brulee, and I never once tested positive. I travelled back and forth between Italy and the States, FOR TWO YEARS, and at some points was getting tested for covid 4 times in any given week; never once, never once I tell you, did I test positive for covid. After literally hundreds of covid tests, and hundreds of negatives, like any rational being I was beginning to consider the fact that maybe I was just too healthy of a human specimen to succumb to the likes of a global pandemic. I was immune. That is, until I moved to New York. Less than two months and a handful of Bumble dates later, and I had covid. Unbelievable. This is my story.

It was a Tuesday night, and like any respectable working professional, I had a Bumble date. For the purposes of this blog post, we shall call him Ethan. Please do not fret, I shall NEVER reveal the true identities of anybody in my posts; it’s called being a professional journalist, of which I clearly am. Now Ethan was not particularly my cup of tea, which is why I felt the need to make that disclaimer. We had been on one Bumble date before, and the whole time he had blatantly flirted with not only the hostess, but the waitress and the bartender too. I’m six feet tall, believe me when I tell you that there is plenty of me to go around. Why did this man need to be in constant pursuit of more surface area? CLASSIC MAN. I found refuge in the fact that the hostess was openly hitting on me instead, which Ethan utterly despised, and I proceeded to listen to him drone on about his 40 thousand dollar watch for the next hour or two. I can admit that I’m into sarcastic assholes, sorry mom and dad, but that’s only when it’s not directed at me. Directed at others? Okay yeah that’s fine. I want to be the butt, but not the butt of the joke (I tried so hard to make this punny and I just couldn’t make it work, please don’t give up on me I promise I’ll do better, I’ll be better).

When he went to the bathroom, for the first time in my life, I genuinely considered making my escape from a date.

Keep in mind, I have tolerated a lot from my dates over the years- maybe that is why I’m so good at customer service now. I have listened to a man lecture about the wonders of French nouveau cinema for 4 hours who was insultingly shocked when I chimed in to say that I already knew who Gerard Depardieu is as Jean de Florette is one of my favorite childhood movies. I have paid half the bill for a date in which I did not order any food and sipped my tap water while he inhaled coconut curry and then told me my height was giving him a mommy kink. I have run around a track to the rhythm of my heavy breathing and wheezing while my date looked at me in disdain before I resigned myself to stretching in the corner while he continued to run, and I have been chastised for accidentally leaving a scratch on a man’s forearm during an intense make out session in which he had already slapped me so hard he unequalized the pressure in my ears (it was my fault as I asked him to slap me, you see I was a little caught up in the moment, but at least I didn’t make a big fuss like him). To that point, listen, I’m sorry that I don’t cut my nails. I’m into men after all.

I have entertained all of this, all without complaint. I’ve even been disappointed when they inevitably didn’t work out. But I was genuinely considering leaving Ethan and his 40 thousand dollar watch at the bar that night. For goodness’ sake, couldn’t he wait to flirt with every woman with a pulse and basic English literacy until our date had come to an end? Why did he insist on making me sit there, eating my shrimp cocktail, like a buffoon? I’m already buffoon enough as is, and so I certainly don’t need anybody else to help me in that regard.

Unfortunately, he was back from the bathroom in no time, making such haste that I can’t imagine that his hands were washed properly. I shudder at the very thought.

So, I really don’t know what possessed me to agree to go on another date with Ethan that fateful Tuesday night, probably my insane loneliness living in a new city without my friends and my desire to forge any kind of connection. Regardless, I found myself in a very adorable Irish bar sat across from the man while I munched on my fish and chips with extra, extra tartar sauce. I clearly had no regard for what my breath would smell like, which is the truest indicator of my interest in the guy. He was wearing a different watch that night, equally valuable of course, and even bestowed upon me the honor of adorning it on my wrist. I was quickly asked to remove it when I had to go to the bathroom, as if I was going to crawl out the back window and escape like a bandit into the night, and when I came back there were two shots of Jameson whiskey waiting for me. Now, keep in mind, I’m an extreme light weight. It’s surprising, I know, considering I’m 6 feet tall and at any given moment my stomach is always 50 to 80% full of carbs, but it’s a burden I just have to bear. At this point I had already demolished two beers, but I was curious. You see, I’d never actually tried whiskey before, and I’ve always fantasized about being the kind of girl who orders a whiskey at the bar instead of my mainstay gin and tonic or god forbid a cosmopolitan. Also, to my surprise, the whiskey actually went down pretty easily. It made my whole body feel warm and cozy, like a fireplace in a log cabin, which was very welcome on the cold December night. Well, I think good old Ethan caught on pretty quickly about the whole lightweight situation, because before I knew it, I was totally incapable of walking home and empty shots of whiskey littered our table. Ever the gentleman, Ethan got me a car back to my apartment, with him in it of course. I am quite embarrassed and extremely reluctant to include that I hooked up with him, given how I literally just described him as a douche incarnate, but unfortunately it is relevant to the rest of the story.

After he left, I was out like a light. But my night would not end there, oh no, because before I knew it, I was waking up soaked in my own sweat and extremely nauseous. The nice warmth the whiskey had given me hours before had now seemingly caught my log cabin on fire. The trees were burnt to the ground, wafts of smoke filled the air, and all the indigenous wildlife had been driven to extinction. DAMN YOU WHISKEY! I’m never drinking whiskey again, I promised myself as I was slouched over my porcelain throne like the hunchback of Notre Dame. Then, before I knew it, my log cabin had been transported from a humid wasteland into an arctic tundra. I had violent chills and shakes, and I had to run back and find shelter under my covers. Oh my god, I thought, this is the worst hangover I have ever had in my life. The reason that I was forced to include that I had hooked up with Ethan is because my chest hurt like a motherfucker (I know, I’m a literary genius; I just have a way with words). I couldn’t even bear to have the weight of my hand on my chest, it hurt so badly. The only conclusion I could come to was that, in my almost blacked out state, Ethan had just accidentally fucking elbowed or kicked the shit out of my chest while we were hooking up, and I just couldn’t remember it. I had fallen victim to a sexual injury, and it wouldn’t even be the first one. Sometimes being as limber and enthusiastic as I am can come with some risks. I kept looking in the mirror, trying to see if there was any bruising, but figured that it must just be internal bleeding.

I managed to get myself back to sleep, and when I woke up a few hours later for work, I felt perfectly fine. In fact, I even woke up an hour early. I was the picture of health. Although it had been an absolutely horrific night, my body seemed to have expelled the toxins and I was actually feeling better than ever. At around noon, I started getting a little runny nose and sneeze, and like any rational person, figured it was just from walking to work in near freezing temperatures. I insist on waking to and from work, as it is the only exercise I get, and I also love the people watching. Anywho, it was the end of the day, and one of my coworkers made an announcement that nobody should come to work if they’re sick. This announcement was obviously directed at me, as I had just sneezed, but I didn’t feel sick at all, and since when did people leave work early due to a slight runny nose and sneeze that they’ve had for 3 hours during the wintertime? To appease her, I decided offhandedly to get a covid test on my way home from work.

So, I tested positive for covid.

Keep in mind, I am a severe hypochondriac. Worst of all, I’m a hypochondriac who can’t stop googling symptoms. When my friend’s heart was racing in the middle of the night, I had to be the one to break the news that she was having a heart attack. When my eyes go blurry, I call my mom to tell her that I suspect I have a brain tumor. I’m not the kid who falls down and rubs some dirt on it. I’m the kid hyperventilating into a brown paper bag in the nurse’s office. So, the fact that I thought that I was just hungover and had suffered extreme blunt force trauma to the chest ended up being the biggest blessing. If I hadn’t blamed it all on whiskey and a sex injury, then I would have been in a state of absolute paranoia and despair. I mean, what are the chances that my symptoms hit all at once in the middle of the night after a night of heavy drinking, are totally gone by morning, and it’s covid and not a hangover?

So, I just powered through, and I finally got to be the kid who just rubbed some dirt on it.

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