Nothing is certain but death and taxes. And The Crud. Parents of small children are very familiar with The Crud. Approximately two to three weeks after a child reenters school in the fall, they will begin to sniffle and cough. All the viruses that have been incubating in their classmate’s bodies all summer have joined together in a pestilential miasma that is guaranteed to wreak havoc on your child’s unsuspecting and unprepared immune system. And of course, the most predictable thing about The Crud is that you are going to get it, too.

The wife had a PTC meeting yesterday, so I took the kids out to dinner. We went to Sweet Tomatoes. I don’t know why kids love all-you-can-eat buffets, but they do. At least at Sweet Tomatoes it’s all the soup, salad and bread you can eat–nothing deep-fried in sight.

My son had been coughing a bit, and he looked listless. He didn’t eat much for dinner, and then asked to get some frozen yogurt from the infinite frozen yogurt dispenser for dessert. He assured me he could get it himself.

Nevertheless, I kept one eye on him. Nothing irks me more than kids running amok at the dessert bar, especially my own. I watched him get a little bowl, carefully hold it under the chocolate spigot, and pull the lever down. A stream of chocolate frozen yogurt descended, and he carefully caught it in the bowl, letting it spiral as the bowl filled. When I decided he had enough, I said so.

“That’s enough. That’s enough. THAT’S ENOUGH! STOP! STOPSTOPSTOPSTOP-

The yogurt just kept spiralling down into the overflowing bowl. I snatched his hand off the lever and forced it up. It had stuck in the ‘open’ position, and it required just enough force to unstick it that my son hadn’t been able to do it with confidence.

He caught the last of the falling yogurt in the hand I had just freed, and carefully scooped it on top of the massive mound already in the bowl. He calmly licked the palm of his hand clean. Utterly unimpressed with the size of the serving he was carrying, he went around the counter to put sprinkles on it.

We have family rules about how much frozen yogurt you can get from the buffet. Rules that are violated only at the peril of losing all dessert privileges for an indeterminate period of time. When my daughter saw the size of the serving her brother was carrying back to the table, her response was immediate and predictable.

“Hey!! How come he gets to have-” Fortunately, my response had been planned the moment I realized how she would react:

“Grab a spoon. You can help your brother eat this.”

We sat and worked on the mound ‘o yogurt for a bit, but it wasn’t even halfway gone when my son leaned back and said, “I don’t want any more.”

Now I knew he was sick. I felt his forehead, and it was very warm.

I ran them home and told them to get ready for bed. While they were inefficiently doing so, I got out the Thermoscan and took his temperature. Nearly normal. Hmmm. Curious, I took my daughter’s as well. Barely a half a degree above normal. Then I took mine, 100.2 F. Damn.

I had The Crud.

I decided against trying to ride my bike to work in the morning, deciding instead to get an extra hour of sleep. I woke up feeling fine, but nevertheless took some of the decongestant/mucus thinner that helps me stave off sinus infections. Curiously, I didn’t feel badly at all today.

Tonight, my son is barking like a seal whenever he coughs. My wife is hoarse from a nasty sore throat that she has developed, and she is looking not unlike an extra from a George Romero film. As soon as she said “sore throat” I could feel my own throat clenching in sympathetic/hypochondriacal fashion. And I’ve been coughing a bit myself. But the big question is, how will I feel in the morning?

And will I feel like riding in to work? I have to make four more round trips in order to claim my jersey. I surely don’t want to wait until the last week to try and squeeze them all in. On the other hand, I’m not going to make that ride if I’m wheezing and coughing up lung tissue before I even start out. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.