Used to be, you’d get a cold you’d stay home from school. You’d hunker down in the ‘ol cowboy pajamas or flannel nightie, slurp some of mama’s homemade chicken soup, nap in a patch of sunshine coming through the window, then get up and make a fort from some blankets and chairs. Maybe the old man would join you in the fort—just the two of you hanging out—before sending you back to bed. A few days of sniffles and coughs and fort-making and you were good as new.
A staycation, with some minor inconveniences.
Used to be.
Nowadays you get a cold, you tell yourself to power on. You tell yourself you’re an adult, you’ve got responsibilities. You load up on hot tea and gallons of water and menthol lozenges and cough syrup and a can of Campbell’s and you take your raging throat out into the world and fall into bed at night and the next day you can’t get up. The chills have gone to your bones. You’ve developed a hacking cough. You cough through the day and the night and the next day and the next night and you’re sure you’ve blown a disc in your lower spine.
And then the sneezing commences.
But these aren’t delicate sneezes. These are sneezes so profound your liver shoots out your nose.
The doctor says it takes seven days for the body to build up antibodies for the virus. Seven days. Your immune system isn’t even putting up a fight at this point, so you give it a pep talk, tell it to get back in the ring, put up the ‘ol dukes.
But all the positive thinking in the world won’t cut it.
The next day you’re so congested you can’t hear. You can’t smell. You can’t taste. Your back muscles have seized up from all the severe coughing and you can’t move.
So you lie in bed and make plans.
You plan to track down the person who gave you the damn cold.
You mentally retrace your steps from the previous week until you zero in on a likely candidate. You imagine yourself sneaking up from behind, clamping your hands onto their shoulders, spinning them around, looking them dead in the eye…and seeing another poor sap who’s been through the same ordeal: the hot tea, the water, the lozenges, the syrup, the canned soup, the mounds of Kleenex, the ruptured disc. And you offer a silent apology to everyone you infected along the way.
Here’s my advice, take it or leave it: next time you get a tickle in your throat, go home. Pull on the adult version of those cowboy pajamas or flannel nightie, snooze in a patch of sunlight, and then get up and start building that fort.
And if you absolutely must go out, wear a mask.
I’m all for not passing things around.