Once upon a time, a fun-loving married couple was trying to plan an elaborate date night complete with a fancy dinner, time at a spa, and a fancy hotel room in which to spend the night away from the house and their screaming four-year-old bundle of joy. This would require a babysitter to watch El Matador, and his abuela was more than happy to drive into town to hang out with him. The reservations were made, the itinerary was set, and I had taken a real shower with soap. Then suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere: disaster.
But let’s go back a minute…
When I first met my wife Dom, she told me that she was a notoriously unlucky person. Bad things seemed to happen to her all the time just because. One of the reasons we work so well together is because I have exceedingly good luck. Not like, win the lottery good luck, but everything always kinda works out for me. I told her that if she stuck with me, her luck would improve.
Ten years of dating, cohabitation, and eventual marriage later, my prediction has yet to come to fruition. In fact, we have decided that Dom that does not actually have bad luck; she has cursed luck. The universe is actively out to get her. Based on our backgrounds, we can only assume that someone gave her the ojo when she was a baby, and the curse has stuck.
With our decadent overnight weekend approaching, Dom’s ojo decided to throw us a curveball on Thursday evening in the form of an email from Matador’s school. It read (paraphrasing):
Dom and I don’t watch Fox News, so we’re fully vaccinated against COVID. Matador isn’t, but only because a vaccine hasn’t been approved for him yet. Even though he was potentially exposed, he wasn’t showing any symptoms, so we didn’t freak out too much about him getting sick. Once that initial panic died down, we started thinking ahead to the future.
If we’ve been exposed, is it still moral to have our weekend and go places and ask Matador’s (vaccinated) abuela to come babysit him?
We decide no, probably not. The only way we could still have our weekend getaway would be if we knew for sure we didn’t have COVID. If we did nothing, we’d all have to quarantine for 14 days. If we got tested, life could go on as normal, and Matador could go back to school on Wednesday.
Friday morning, we decide to go get tested. The deciding factor is Dom’s pregnancy. Evidently, even if a vaccinated, pregnant woman gets COVID, she should immediately get those monoclonal antibodies to help her body fight the infection (this is not medical advice, consult your doctor, don’t believe anything you read on the internet). The tick marks in the PRO column were starting to add up.
October 2021 isn’t like the early, scary days of COVID. You can get tested pretty much anywhere now, and without much wait. We found a place with the least wait time and fast results and headed out. The urgent care facility we ended up at was empty, and Matador enjoyed talking loudly in the echoey waiting room. The staff, nurses, and doctor were all friendly, which you don’t really appreciate unless you get the opposite experience.
They put us in a room together. The walls had Trolls stickers on them.
Are you comfortable? Would you like some water? How about a blanket?
I’m sure the staff was only being so nice because they knew we were about to get giant Q-tips shoved up our noses. In order not to freak out Matador, we had him go first.
He screamed. He cried. It was horrible. But I forgot all about it once that swab went into my nose, through the back of my nose, and into the part of my brain responsible for… I can’t even remember what it was now. I’ve been punched full-on in the nose dozens of times, but this was such an acute discomfort that I’m sure I made one of those plaintive groans like a dog makes when you accidently kick them.
Anyway. Matador screams. I cry. Dom coughs a lot. Then it’s over, and we wait. After a while, the nurse comes in to inform us that we have all tested negative. My good luck overpowers Dom’s ojo. Our son isn’t sick! My pregnant wife isn’t sick! I also probably will not die. Good news all around.
We leave the urgent care facility content in the knowledge that we are COVID-free. Matador asks if we can go to Chili’s for lunch. We don’t know why he loves Chili’s so much, but after what he just went through, we agree.
Here’s the thing about the ojo. It’s not just straight-forward bad luck. It’s insidious. It wants to break you physically, mentally, and emotionally. Just when you think you’ve fended off another attack, it shoots in for another slice at your vulnerable emotional underbelly.
As we arrive at Chili’s, riding high after our negative tests, we’re greeted with an empty dining room and a wait list. Only three servers are working. We sit down and wonder if this is the ojo’s doing. The waiting area fills up. Customers are starting to get annoyed. Matador demands his lemonade now.
Alas, the server shortage is due to COVID, not the ojo. The ojo has bigger plans. It comes up with the one thing that could actually crack our brains in two.
My phone dings. It’s an email from Matador’s school. It reads (paraphrasing):
I show Dom my phone. I watch her eyes.
Had we not been in the soothing environment of our beloved Chili’s, with the aroma of baby back ribs and cleaning product in the air, I’m pretty sure Dom would have pulled out her best Samuel L. Jackson impression and cussed my phone into oblivion. Instead, she took a deep breath, closed her eyes, and I don’t know what happened after that. I think we both blacked out.
Disassociating from reality was the only reasonable response to finding out we had all been COVID tested for no reason, had put our child through that for no reason, and that if we had waited a mere 60 minutes, we could have saved him all those tears (plus whatever it’s going to cost us for stepping foot inside an urgent care).
When I come to, we’re seated in a sticky booth and ordering drinks. Dom asks for a child’s lemonade for Matador. The server brings him a tall mug and says they have no straws. Dom orders Matador a quesadilla and some orange slices. Sorry, no orange slices either.
The ojo is up to its old tricks again.
Or it’s just COVID affecting the supply chain. Dom and I commiserate with our waiter, who despite the line going out the door, is doing his best to keep himself and everyone else happy. We get it. COVID is trying to ruin everything.
I like to think we would have been just as understanding had we not just been jerked back and forth by the testing incident. Perhaps we just had nothing left to give, emotionally speaking.
We finish our meal and ride home in silence. We have nothing left to say to each other. From the back of the car, we hear the ojo giggling to itself. It thinks it has won. I reach across the cupholders for Dom’s hand. She takes it and squeezes.
I shrug. She shrugs.
This is our life. This is our family.
Me, Dom, Matador, Rainbow, Cheyenne… and even our little ojo.
And that, my friends, is how our family came to get COVID tested just for funsies.
Have you had to experience the Swab of Truth and Justice yet? Let us know your story in the comments below!