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In which John discusses who gave norovirus to whom in the great Thanksgiving family nightmare of 2014.

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Good morning Hank, it's Tuesday.

So I'm back on the set of the Paper Towns movie but over the last, like, 100 hours, you and me and the Katherine and both of our parents, uh, had norovirus, which is a virus with this amazing superpower. It can make a human being stay on or near a toilet for, like, 12 to 24 hours.

Side-note, Hank: Why don't fictional characters ever get sick? Like why is Captain Ahab never like "Uuuh, god, I've got the worst head cold and my throat is very scratchy and I just want to stay in my bunk but if I don't get up and try to find the white whale, human beings will never learn about nature's complete indifference to them, so I guess I'll go to work."?

Anyway, while I was horrifically ill, I kept on wondering who exactly was responsible for my norovirus. The thing is, Hank, you get norovirus almost all the time by eating the poop of someone who already has it.

Now, you only have to eat, like, .00001 grams in order to get norovirus, but it is - I, I want to emphasize this: someone else's poop. Now, the clear Patient Zero in our family is my daughter Alice; five days before Thanksgiving she awoke from a nap and promptly vomited all over her father, but I didn't get sick then.

I mention this only because it leads to the uncomfortable awareness that in all likelihood, all of us have eaten the poop of everyone we love. I guess except if it's an Internet relationship. Man, Internet friendships are the best! The next time someone says to me, like "Oh, your Internet friendships aren't real," I'll be like, "Listen, if your construction of reality involves necessarily eating poop, then I'm going to stay right here in my land of fiction."

Anyway, this poop eating business is great stuff to think about when you're already extremely queasy from norovirus, but the other thing I kept thinking is that my beautiful one-year-old daughter whose poop started this whole Thanksgiving family catastrophe was going to be OK.

Like, norovirus is almost never fatal in kids in the U.S., but around the world, it causes more than 200,000 child deaths per year. And most of those kids die for want of clean water and oral re-hydration solution that costs, like, 50 cents. Alice got PediaLyte, that's the only difference between, "Haha, what a funny family Thanksgiving story," and the greatest personal disaster I can imagine.
And whatever Alice grows up to do - whatever any of us grow up to do - let's remember all those times that everything rested on 50 cents of PediaLyte or refrigerated penicillin or access to clean water. Now, of course, the actual process of getting oral re-hydration solutions to the kids who need it is, like everything else in global health and poverty, fiendishly complicated, but I don't think we should let that complexity stand in our way or intimidate us.
Yes, it is hard, and yes, there are failures, but organizations from Save the Children to to countless local charities are helping to decrease child mortality.
Hank, I am in no way grateful for my brush with norovirus, but it's helpful to think about as we head into Project for Awesome season. The world is a profoundly unjust place; it always has been and I imagine it always will be, but that doesn't absolve us of our responsibility to look directly at problems even when they are painful to look at and to try our best to do something to decrease world suck.

So Hank: I'm sorry that you ate Alice's poop, or possibly my poop; somebody's poop, anyway. But here's to the hope of getting better, both individually and as a species. Hank, I'll see you on Friday.
(Clanging noise).