(Norovirus is here again. Stricken on a Friday evening two weeks ago, I've noticed three more cases of doorknob-rattling since. I think it may have inspired the very baddest, certainly the grossest, piece of Bad Poetry I’ve ever written! Huzza! Maybe the badness of this “poem” will give people something to think about before they rattle the knobs of bathroom doors on which it may be posted. It's not that anybody wants to spread this virus around in public, it's just that the virus strikes and moves on faster than we can see it coming...but avoiding anyone who seems sick may help you! I'd like to see this one taped to bathroom doors everywhere, Gentle Readers. If you want to alter the directions to fit the bathroom in question, feel free to write in your version in any way that makes it obvious that you've done so.)
Why do you clamor at the door
You saw someone go in, before?
You’re not just struggling to contain
Your excretory needs, that’s plain:
You’re hardly one full block below
The library where you could go;
You’re three blocks, neither less nor more,
From this same chain’s next outlet store;
Unless food smells to flee you want,
You’re two blocks from a restaurant;
Emergencies in every store?
That’s what the firehouse is for.
A public restroom none would choose
For rest, or contemplating views,
Or any pleasure you might share.
There is no TV set in there.
Did you not hear? That sound—again—
Warns you that that way leads to pain.
Three flushes—faucet—one flush more—
You’d better choose a different store.
You hear the sound of Norwalk Flu.
You breathe it in, you’ll have it too.
O ghoul who listens for further retching,
Know that on Earth no thing’s more “catching”
Than the day-long woes of norovirus;
A third flush always should inspire us
To turn, while yet our legs can flee,
And hope the afflicted not to see.
Must you rush in? Remember well
The unique and disgusting smell:
That is the airborne germ will make
You sick as the patient, ere you wake,
And if Miss Manners had power to curse
You’d certainly feel even worse.
Tomorrow you will understand,
The patient’s lingering was not planned,
And as you slump upon the floor,
Remember the convenience store,
Which, had you left as soon as able
(And then foregone the dinner table),
Might not have left you bowed low before
What you should have gone home and not used at the store.