Charlie: Now’s the time of year when my self-esteem drops to the lowest level.
Cassie (sputtering on coffee): Why? What’s up?
Charlie: With these allergies, I’m all snotty and drippy. The girls don’t like it and someone in the posse told me to stop sniffing so much. As if I can help it!
Charlie: Not important.
Cassie: Well, I’ve given you the highest dose really allowed for the allergy pills. I wish you would let me enhance that medication with the nose spray. It really helps me. It coats the inside of your nose.
Charlie: And tickles it….so then you start sneezing like crazy! The problem is there’s not enough rain to wash off the deck down below. Everything here in California is so dusty and tickle-y.
Cassie: Hmm. No more deck for you, then. I mean it. Stay inside until we get over the worst of the allergy season. Okay? (Pause) You don’t think you’re allergic to your pet rats, do you?
Charlie: No, Mom. (Heavy sigh.) Nice try. These allergies would have happened a long time ago when we got the rats if I was allergic to them.
Cassie: I guess you’re right. Would you like some of these small tissue packs to keep in your backpack or in your pocket?
Cassie: Come on, Charlie. I think it’s a good idea.
Charlie: Too dorky. Besides. there’s plenty of Kleenex in the classroom.
Cassie: You’re probably using up all the tissue supply she has. What do you go through — a box a day?
Charlie: Not really. I usually wipe the nose drip on my hand.
Cassie: Charlie! Gross! If you’re wondering why the girls aren’t coming ’round, that there is the reason. Plus all your sniffing and snorking. Use a tissue.
Charlie: Snorking’s not a word.
Cassie: You know what I mean. That annoying sniffing sound you make. You said so yourself. It bugs your friend in the posse.
Charlie: A lot of people in the class have allergies. There’s a lot of sniffing! I’m not the only one.
Cassie: (handing him a box of tissues) Here, add this to the classroom tissue supply since it’s probably taken quite a hit the past couple of weeks.
Charlie: What?! I told you, they already have enough tissues. I’m not bringing this in. I’ll look like such a dork.
(He hands the box back to me. I, then, hand it right back over to him. We pass the box of tissues back and forth like it’s a hot potato. Finally, he slams the box down on the kitchen counter, just as Scott enters the kitchen, ready to take Charlie to school.)
Scott: What’s going on here?
Cassie: He needs to take some Kleenex with him to school. He’s a mess.
Charlie: I’m fine. I don’t need this extra box of tissues.
Scott: Charlie, take the Kleenex like your mother said. Let’s go. We’re already two minutes behind schedule.
Charlie: This is sooo dorky. I’m–(he’s interrupted suddenly by a massive sneeze) Aaaaaaachooooo!
(There’s some spray. Scott, who’s standing near Charlie, jumps out of the way of it.)
Scott: (looking pointedly at me) The allergy medicine is not working on the kid. (Then he glowers at Charlie) Blow your nose! See you DO need this box of Kleenex. Disgusting….I just showered.
Charlie: It’s toooo dorky!
Scott: Too bad! (He shoves the box of tissues into Charlie’s chest.) Come on! Hold this! Move it out the door! (Drill sergeant voice.)
Charlie: You don’t understand how much this will ruin my “Legend” reputation. No one walks around with a box of Kleenex. It’s just too STUPID!
Cassie: All you have to do is put it in a central place in the classroom… as a contribution for the whole group. Problem solved. You don’t have to hold it the whole time. Gaawd, Charlie. This is ridiculous!
Charlie: But they’ll see me walk IN with the box! It makes an impression! A stupid one!
Scott: Enough! Let’s go! (Scott swiftly opens the kitchen door.)
(Charlie, backpack slung over his shoulder, Kleenex box in hand, walks out the door behind Scott, muttering. He sneezes violently again. He’s now forced to open the box of tissues he’s holding as he descends the stairs to the driveway. Frantically, he pulls out handfuls of tissues to stem the flow of snot leaking from his nose.)
Charlie: Curse you, Allergies. (He shakes his fist, full of the huge wad of used tissues, toward the cloudless blue sky above.) You’ve ruined my life!
Scott: Enough with the drama. Get in the car.
(I shut the kitchen door and start in on the process of preparing another cup of coffee. Another day. Another departure. The house is quiet again. As I study the Keurig coffee pod selection, I am interrupted by a violent tickle in my nose. Suddenly, I sneeze. I reach for the closest thing I can find….a napkin….and blow. Yes, curse you, Allergies. Curse you!)