Me: Hi Mom, how was your weekend?
Mom: Oh good. We painted the den and set up the new desk. It's looking really nice. We haven't put up the drapes yet because the paint isn't completely dry but it's getting there.
Me: Maybe I can see it this Friday. Curt and I might stop at your house before heading to New York.
Mom: (Long, disapproving pause) You're going to New York!?!
Me: Yeah. It's Fish's birthday. We're finally going to visit him.
Mom: Jennifer. The swine flu has spread to New York. It's a pandemic.
Me: (unconcerned) Oh yeah, Melissa mentioned that to me.
Mom: The last time there was an epidemic like this it was in 1918 and it struck people in the 20-40 age bracket. Millions of people died.
Me: (joking) I might be in trouble then since I keep getting sick lately.
Mom: Millions of people could die.
Me: (thinks) That would make a great set up for a novel. Maybe I could work it into the post apocolyptic YA I've been outlining....IF I survive swine flu long enough to get published.
(says) Yeah but it's not that bad, is it?
Mom: It's spreading all over the world. People are dying. Where does Fish live?
Mom: (strangely triumphant) It's already in Queens!
Me: (thinks) Oh God! I'm going to die without ever publishing a book! I should just start gorging myself on Cadbury chocolate and Scotch right now while I still can. Maybe get back into writing poetry.
Mom: So your father and I are working on a family emergency plan.
Mom: Yes. We're going to give Beth your number and Melissa's so she can contact you in case anything happens to your father and me. She's just down the street so if anything happens she's close by.
Me: Ummm okay. Sure.
Long pause during which I wonder how my "just checking in" phone call turned into a dire warning of my imminent death. Also trying to figure out why my parents--definitely over 40 mind you--would need an emergency plan. I guess in case Connecticut becomes completely quarantined. Or if swine flu starts turning people into zombies, thus necesitating the quarantine. I bet Rhode Island would love that. They've been trying to get rid of Connecticut for years.
Mom: Jennifer. Do you really have to go to New York this weekend?
Me: (thinks) Christ. This is why I don't call you people anymore!!!!!
Mom: Well, don't forget to wash your hands a lot and force fluids.
Me: Yep. Thanks, Mom.
Mom: Okay, have a good night.
Me: (thinks) Oh, like I'll sleep now.
(says) You too. Good night.