My backpack is full of cough syrup

February 12th, 2008

There’s this old Monty Python sketch in which a mischievous man publishes a Hungarian-to-English phrasebook with an unusual twist: he replaces the English translations with bits of nonsense and suggestive phrases. In the sketch, a Hungarian man is seen at a tobacconist’s asking to buy a book of matches. The phrase he reads from his phrasebook is “My hovercraft is full of eels.”

But I assure you, I was not reading from a screwed up Hungarian phrasebook when I wrote the title of this post. Two days ago, my backpack really was full of cough syrup.

It happened because of the cold I came down with about two weeks ago. When I get sick, I load my backpack up with the usual remedies: a box of Dayquil pills, a bottle of Delsym cough medicine, and my little travel medicine bottle containing a mix of Tylenol, Advil, Naproxin Sodium pills. That way I always have medicine with me, whether I’m at home or at work.

I got over the cold last week, but I was still coughing every now and then, so I left the medicine in the backpack. I had almost forgotten about it yesterday morning when I unzipped the front pocket and reached in for a pen…

And put my hand into a sticky mess.

The top had come off the bottle of Delsym and my backpack was full of sticky orange syrup. Fortunately, the only other things in that pocket were hard plastic and easily washed: some pens, a screwdriver, and my medicine bottle. I took everything out of the pocket and washed it off. After that I stuffed the pocket full of napkins to soak up the cough syrup and tried to figure how I would clean up the mess. Then I took a look at the outside and discovered that the syrup had soaked completely through the fabric at the bottom of the backpack. Yuck. How do you deal with that?

Then I figured… why not just run through the washing machine? On the delicate cycle, it might not tear up the backpack too bad. So I did just that. It seemed to be working fine, it had been washing for fifteen minutes or so, and then I heard WHAM! WHAM! WHAM! coming from the utility room. The washer was in its spin cycle, and obviously the load was way off-balance. I looked in the washer and discovered that the backpack was sitting upright and was full of water. No wonder the load was off-balance. I dumped out the water, and the wash finished without any problem.

Wendy took the backpack out of the washer for me and hung it on the bannister to air dry. That was last night. This afternoon, it’s clean, dry, and ready for me to load it up again.

Except this time I’ll leave out the cough syrup.

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