I had the unfortunate luck of coming down with a cold this past July 4th holiday weekend. As best as I can recall, it’s only the second time in my life that I’ve had any kind of summertime virus. The weather outside was beautiful with sunny skies and ninety degree temperatures, but I stayed inside huddled under a blanket while the air conditioning was on full blast. I felt cursed by either God, Mother Nature, or Rupert Murdoch — take your pick. Some all-powerful being is responsible for my suffering since getting sick is never my fault.
From the window of my home office, all weekend long I watched the residents in our community splashing around in the pool, getting suntans, and barbecuing hamburgers and hot dogs at the grills. They walked around holding containers of cold sodas and beer while children ran around amongst them.
I thought each and every one of them looked foolish. I hated them.
On the evening of the Fourth, if we leaned far enough to the extreme left corner of our living room couch, we could see at least part of a fireworks show going on at a nearby park. Although Gorgeous could have easily watched all of it by simply stepping out on the front porch, she instead chose to make it a romantic snuggle for the three of us: her, me, and my box of Puff’s Plus.
Good God, but there is absolutely nothing warm and sentimental about being sick with a cold. I just fail to see anything cozy about it.
Yet, every now and again I will read posts from bloggers who offer an affectionate recalling of the times that they stayed home sick from school and were coddled by a loving parent. They write of being plied with chicken soup and having a cornucopia of comfort snacks at their disposal. They also wax nostalgic of Gilligan’s Island reruns, siblings who played board games with them, and the pleasures of comic books instead of geography homework.
Fair enough. That Alice Nelson obviously made quite an impact on my g-g-generation.
Okay, fine. Those are your memories and who am I to rain on such happy thoughts? I’ve just got to break it to you for your own sake, though, that the extra dose of NyQuil you were given back then? It was more for Mommy’s sake than yours.
My own recollections of childhood sniffles are slightly less mawkish. My parents, unlicensed experts in preventive medicine, always made it crystal clear that coming down with a cold was a result of something your humble blogger had done wrong: I went outside without a hat, I walked around the house in bare feet, I visited a home where someone was sick, etc.
A boy who was more self-aware of his surroundings surely could have fended off the sickness from which he would later suffer.
My dad in particular, never wanted to see any of his children wearing their pajamas all day while they were sick. In later years, friends and compatriots of mine would enjoy the retelling of how Dad offered his own unique take on how to encourage his son back to health:
You should put on some regular clothes, Martin. You’ll feel better when you do.”
The usage of the conjunction “when” was a clever device, combining empathy along with an edict. Gorgeous now regularly delights in serenading me with this same admonition when I deign to lounge around in my skivvies beyond the 10:00am witching hour. Somehow I know he would approve.
I am currently passing through the very last stages of this summer cold. The sore throat and coughing have thankfully given way to the remnants of an airy, light buzz that in another era of my life would have inspired me to put on the vinyl version of Little Feat with Lowell George singing “Willin’.” These days, however, I’ll settle for a Sudafed, a hot cup of green tea, and Dr. Lonnie Smith on the organ. .
So beware of a summer virus going around. Wash your hands at every opportunity and do be watchful of others sneezing and coughing around you. Just remember, though, it’s your own fault if you end up sick.
Until next time…