The Best Fever Story Ever.
I haven’t had a fever in a really long time. A few years at least. When I was a kid I used to have the most intense fever dreams, you know, the hallucination type pseudo-night terrors? Yep. Had one earlier tonight, and it got me thinking about my favorite fever induced “dream.” Since I’m already a bit delirious, I figured I’d share it with you now . . .
Christmas Eve nineteen eighty-something. I don’t recall the exact year but it was when shows like He-Man and Thundercats ruled the after school airwaves. I was running a mildly high fever, or so my Mom tells me, somewhere in the 101 range. Per tradition in our house growing up, my siblings and I were allowed to open one gift on Christmas Eve (in retrospect an extraordinarily calculated move to occupy us for a few hours before bedtime). I opened some anime ninja VHS tape (I wish I still had it, or even had the name of it) and watched it with my younger brother. Mistake number one: 1980’s anime ninja movies with a fever don’t go well (which probably inspired this tweet earlier tonight). As bedtime approached, I recall feeling worse – shaky, jittery, whiny, typical fever attributes of an 8 year old kid (and, I suppose a 32 year old man). I was shipped off to bed anyways. Asleep in minutes. I remember waking with a start – eyes exploding open with the realization that I had been asleep for hours and it must be Christmas morning, who cares that it was still dark out? Even at that age I knew that technically “a.m.” meant morning and morning was fair game. I got up out of bed and approached the door, choosing not to wake my brother for whatever reason. My bedroom door opened into the living room in our apartment, the Christmas tree was in direct line of sight, the stockings hung off to the right on the armoire. I opened the door a crack to make sure the coast was clear. What I (thought) I saw shook me to the bone with both delight and fear. There he was bent over underneath the tree arranging presents. It was Santa.
I’m sure that my eyes grew wider than they ever have and my heart started pounding, sending the fever drenched blood pulsing through my veins. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. There he was. He was in my living room. I quickly scanned about for the tray of cookies to see if he had eaten them. As I was scanning the room I vividly recall the feeling of my stomach sinking. I knew I wasn’t supposed to be awake. I was going to ruin everything. The guilt was overwhelming (My Dad is Jewish and my Mom is Irish Catholic so I’ve got the self-guilt thing pretty much covered). I shut the door as quietly as I could and stood there frozen with fear. If Santa knew I was awake it would jeopardize my entire household’s Christmas. So I stood at the door unable to move. Suddenly it dawned on me that if Santa were in my house that would mean he would have to leave at some point, and when he did leave, I would be able to see the reindeer fly! With that realization, I totally forgot about why I was standing as still as a statue. My ninja moves from earlier in the evening kicked in, and a few strategic jumps and gratuitous 360s later I was at my window, face firmly planted on the cold glass, looking up. I waited, never losing faith that I would be the only kid to lay eyes on the most magical of (commercial) Christmas mysteries. Still I waited, eyes focused like a hawk for the slightest movement in the night sky. I waited some more with supreme confidence that at any moment I would see the sleigh overhead. I waited for what seemed like hours (and in reality was probably 10 minutes). I finally blinked, and with that blink came a creeping realization. The first doubt, not in Santa, but in seeing the reindeer fly. The doubt came faster now, like a rolling boulder, when suddenly it hit me. How did I know that Santa didn’t come from this direction? I didn’t know his route. He could have flown in any direction. Maybe he was zigzagging to avoid enemy aircraft (I had recently seen Top Gun, too and was quite certain that the Russian Mig pilots did not celebrate Christmas)? With that, I crawled back into bed feeling dejected. I awoke a few hours later with the best fever induced story of my life.