The boy has been vomiting all day, and he’s had a touch of diarrhea at least once. It’s Christmas break, and his dad is off of work, so today, they watched Gone with the Wind and Patton, now they are about to start Ike. As Dad opens the Blockbuster rental box, he smiles and laughs softly.

“What?” says the boy.

“Oh, I was just thinking,” says Dad.

“About what?”

His dad slides the VHS into the VCR.

“I was just remembering a day like this that I had when I was a teenager.”


“I was probably sixteen or seventeen. Granny and Grandpa both had to teach, so they had to leave me home by myself. And boy, I was sick. I was terribly sick. Your grandpa knew that, so he called me over his lunch hour and asked how I was.”

“You had to be home all by yourself?”

“Yeah and Camille school, so I was really all by myself. So anyway, my dad calls, and he says, ‘How are you, Son?’ I said, ‘Oh, Dad, I’m so sick. I run to the bathroom, and then I’m not sure if I’m going to throw up or have diarrhea. Sometimes, I sit, then jump up and turn around and barf.’ He was quiet for a minute and then without a hint of a change in his voice, he said, ‘Well, it sounds like you have Ass-Face-itis.’ I said, ‘Ass-Face-itis? What’s that?’ He said, ‘It’s when your ass looks so much like your face that your bowels get confused and don’t know which end to run out.'”

Dad laughs and laughs. The boy smiles. “That’s funny, Dad.”

“The thing about your grandfather, and part of what made it so funny, is that he was not a profane man in the least. He never swore. He barely ever raised his voice. So when he said something like that, it was so uncharacteristic it made it that much funnier.”

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