This place is alive with the fear of Piggy Fever. (I'm being sensitive to Israel, Mexico and North America…Sorry Mother Goose.)
Still, I have to say, if I end up trapped for any amount of extra time here in this crazy beautiful resort, cloistered with federal nerdarati, because someone comes down with a symptom, my love affair with bacon and tacos will be suspended indefinitely.
Every time someone sneezes, I spurt antibacterial hand soap in their face. Not really. Only in my mind…
One of my friends here, Andrew, is severely hypochondriac. Since yesterday around noon, after I pointed out how many people were coughing, he has been wearing a bandana over the lower half of his face. His usual crowd of cronies rapidly dwindled to just me. Instead of the usual stopping and talking to him about policy and information tech. issues, people were avoiding eye contact and smirking as they walked by.
"Good." Andy said. "I don't need their germs."
Normally outspoken with prematurely grey hair that is short and sticks straight up from his head in all directions, and a quick agile way of moving, the face mask called attention to the fact that he never ties his shoes and his hair is actually wild… like it's attacking his head . It doesn't help that the bandana sports the Italian flag. At first I thought that he'd "borrowed" one of the decorative flags from the hotel mexican restaurant; the similarity is remarkable.
"Do you love nachos?" I asked. Who doesn't? Andy also tends to eat like his stomach empties directly into someone else's metabolism.
"It's an Italian flag ….!" he huffed, the bottom portion billowing out. "I went to the cyle-cross internationals in January! The Italians kicked ass"
"How are you going to finish your sandwich and eat brownies this afternoon…..how will you drink BEER?" I asked him.
The Italian part of his face drooped while his eyes registered good ole fashioned American alarm.
Still, the flag fluttered in the breeze of Andy's conversation all day and into the evening. He propped it up to shovel in dinner, and later he rotated the lower angle for beer drinking convenience. I kept thinking of all the beautiful and important things that Italy has produced and how Andy was staining all that with his love of mixing ketchup with mustard and calling it 'ketch-a-turd" while slathering in on everything…
After dinner, during our post-happy-hour final-night-conference beverages, a shift occurred. I think it stemmed from too much spiked punch on everyone's part.
Andy developed a relaxed wide legged, arms open couch sprawl that made him seem like he had an odd confidence. Less furtive more assertive. Only I understood that it was because he didn't want anyone sitting next to him.
Some of the women changed their view of Andy from some sort of crazy
computer geek germophobe with sinister ties to Italy to….
Mysterious European …
Finally, after some prompting, a couple women older than me stuffed dollar bills into the saggy waistband of Andy's Levi 501s as he sauntered back from the restroom, still drying his overwashed hands on 10 feet of papertowl. (Two women….and, in the interest of full discloser, I put .37 cents in myself…it was the least I could do. Really..)
Andy shook his skinny little middle-aged booty, in part because of the (relative) wild applause, and in bigger part because my spare change got hung up somewhere down yonder.
"Do you KNOW how DIRTY money IS?" Italy screamed, horrified and yet flattered…and more than a litle shrewd. Andy is also fairly cheap.
The bandana slipped down onto his neck and stil the change did not shake free. Somewhere someone sneezed and Andy winced. His dance grew frantic. I held on to my bills and my applause and so did everyone else.