Better Guesting Through Chronic Illness
Before Multiple Sclerosis, I was a terrible houseguest. Not a thoughtless one—I never arrived without an offering, usually liquid, and a thank-you note usually arrived within a week of my departure.*
My fundamentals were solid: I brought my own weird food without taking over the kitchen; I recognized that the shower, not the bathmat, was the place to dry off; I didn’t drink the rest of the coffee without offering to make more; and I definitely replaced the empty roll with a new roll hung the right way.
The problem? I was a night person.
I was a morning person.
I remember Tyler telling me as I returned at 8am from my customary five-mile run that I would surely lose my uterus that way. When his housemate, my friend Meaghan, emerged, she confirmed that this was a strong possibility. In her experience as a caregiver at a nursing home, uteruses were constantly making a break for it, leaving me with an indelible image of elderly women shuffling around with their sex organs awkwardly bunched around their ankles. It never occurred to me that this was Meaghan and Tyler’s subtle way of saying, “You kept us up until 4 am making us play the VHS version of The Newlywed Game. Stay the fuck down.”
I still love predicting my partner’s answers to questions about whoopee, and where and how it might occur, but fuck if I can stay up until 4 in the morning to do it. I can barely stay up until 4 in the afternoon some days, which I guess, might also make me a lousy guest, if you’ve invited me because you enjoy my company.
Bill Cosby started his stand-up shows at 5pm, because he could do whatever he wanted. I learned this fact in 2006, when I knew much less about how he liked to spend his evenings. When I couldn’t stay up to go on at 10 or 11 at night, I didn’t know I was sick, I thought I was just really tired of men explaining to me the size of their penises relative to men of other races or ethnicities. It’s when I couldn’t stay up until 10, or 2, to listen to Jake’s latest triumph with the wooden boat society, or to lose another unborn child to Ame in pool, that I knew something was wrong.
If I had been given a choice, I might have kept the night person. She was much kinder to her friends, and her uterus. But the morning person’s all I got, and she’d love to hear from the people she cherishes about everything that’s wrong with vigorous morning exercise.
*Not bragging, but I am the direct descendant of Wenatchee High School’s Miss Manners of the Month for May 1966. Apple does not fall far!