I really haven’t thought about memes since I was an undergrad thinking thoughts that were, as Cecil Adams put it nicely, either completely profound or super fucking obvious.
What’s that, you say? What are memes? The basic concept is that ideas behave more like viruses: they want to replicate themselves, and we are just hosts. So a joke can be a meme, as can a catchy jingle. When it catches in your head, you are actually a vector for an idea that wants to use you to help it spread to other people’s minds.
Okay, you already knew that. The reason why it’s coming up today is that I am seeing some seriously meme-like properties in my son’s ongoing illness. It’s not just that his virus is acting like a virus, wanting to survive another day in whatever vessel it needs. It’s that the virus has covertly taken over my entire child.
In particular, I’m starting to doubt whether the most bedrock quality of my two-year-old son–that he is affectionate toward me and the others he loves–comes from him at all. I am beginning to think that it’s all just the virus. For the entire time we’ve been in Key West this trip, he has demanded to be on my hip. Just a sick, clingy child? Maybe. But explain, then, why when I put him down to sleep, he insists on having his face right up against mine, trying constantly to breathe into my mouth. I know, they even named a flower after baby’s breath. But this gave me the creeps. I saw not a loving child, but instead a colonized zombie-brain, using those fleshy cheeks and doe eyes and other cutenesses to launch a stealth attack from his diseased mouth to mine.
Of course, that’s could be the Robitussin talking. I doubledosed to ward off disaster, and now may be about as high as I ever was in college. Drugs + dread = vacation with children.