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Suburban Island

Flu Shot at 10 O’clock
Monday, Dec. 15, 2003, 8:31 p.m.

QUESTION: Do you know how much I hate shots?

WHAT I LEARNED: Bring your own paper.

Something as unpleasant as a shot should be easy to obtain. Not so this year’s flu shot. Yes, I know I should have gotten it earlier but somehow, I never got around to it and so that was how, last week, I found myself standing in a ponderous line that snaked from the front of a grocery store, through the longest cereal aisle I have ever traveled along, past the bakery, and finally to our destination - two lonely nurses headquartered at a little folding table sticking needles into people’s arms. I actually took my kids – 14 and 17 – with me so they could get their shots too. Imagine our surprise when we were told that even though I – their devoted parent – was with them, they could not get the shot because there was no pediatrician present.

Yes, imagine their initial surprise and then imagine their outright delight as it dawns on them – mom can’t bail on the line without losing her place in the flu shot line from hell. Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

Out of school for the day and armed with a driver – my daughter – and the keys to my car, they traveled to coffee joint, bagel bakery, and toy store while I stood in line, and stood in line, and stood in line some more. Every once in a while they returned to the store to see how far I had progressed but really they just wanted to verify how much time they had on left to enjoy this mom-allowed skip-out morning. The good thing was that every time they came to check on me they brought something – a grande coffee, a bagel, a request for a CD (It’s on sale, Mom).

Yes indeed, this was turning out to be a great morning for them. Not so for me. I was able to learn a lot about coffee, tea, hot and cold cereal choices, and granola bars while waiting to be punctured. At the same time they were flitting merrily from shop to shop with much glee. I also learned that half-read papers tossed about on corner displays of soda become a veritable treasure when they are the only thing between you and 2 hours of utter and complete boredom. Here is a nice article about a 40-something man whose mean first wife wouldn’t let him decorate while his new 26-year old wife was an amazing good sport, allowing him to create a light-encrusted tourist attraction for all to enjoy. Here is another about festive foods that I imagine making while I mentally construct a shopping list of entries built around an explosion of frozen foods. I must tell you that the possibility that I will bake any sort of pie for the holiday season is zero. That’s why I love Sara Lee. She’s always been good to me.

I did get my shot - eventually. My kids did go to school – eventually. And the newspapers sections were passed on – eventually. It was a good day in suburbia.

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