Friday, June 09, 2000

nothing saps the spirits like a summer cold

The worst part of having facial hair is all the mucus that gets caught in my mustache when I'm sick.

One hairy fellow I met back in 1992 complained that catching food there was the worst part of having a beard. With all due respect to Cookie and his greater number of years of experience with facial hair, I have to disagree. Aside from the slice of watermelon that was stuck there for three weeks after a picnic last summer, I've never once had food caught in my beard.

I wish it were the same for other items as well. But every time I've blown my nose the past three days, there have been not-so-subtle trails left behind, and when I've woken up in the morning, the hairs under my nose have been painfully stiff, like the spears of a tiny army on my upper lip, poised to strike the first enemy they encounter.

All that's stopped me from shaving it all off and being rid of the nuisance is the prospect of having to clean my electric razor afterward.

For the past few days I have been as sick as the proverbial dog. It's not as debilitating as the time I had amoebic dysentery, nor as painful as when I had dengue fever, but in the past three days I've coughed so much that my head feels like a tree that's gone two rounds with a lumberjack. My joints ache, my muscles are sore and even my toenails feel too tight.

Nothing saps the spirits like a summer cold. This one has left me ill-tempered, out of sorts and delirious. I've slept later and for longer hours, and even when I'm not asleep, I just lie around and generally am unproductive. (Once I figure out how all this differs from when I'm healthy, I'll let you know.)

And yet, despite the incongruity, I find that colds actually bring back some nice memories. When I was a child, my mother had a special knack for taking care of us when we were sick. Aside from the usual benefits of being sick - staying home from school, sleeping on the sofa and watching TV all day, and getting out of delivering our paper routes - my mother would say at least once a cold, "You know, you would feel a lot better if you could throw up that big glob of mucus in your stomach."

Something about those words gave them a measure of healing power. Mom would trot out her magic phrase, and in no time the sick person would rush to follow the prescribed treatment, along with anyone else who had been within earshot. To this day, whenever I get sick, I can still hear her saying those magic words.

Natasha of course has extended her wifely sympathies to me the past few days. Earlier today, after I had taken a shower, dressed and changed the baby's diaper, I announced I was going back to bed for a nap.

"What?" she said. "But you just woke up!"

It was less than an hour later that I saw how much she truly cared. The bowl of cereal I ate for breakfast proved to be too solid for my stomach to handle, and I found myself rushing to the bathroom to follow my mother's timeless advice.

I could read Natasha's thoughts like a book. "Poor Dave," she thought. "I can't stand to hear him suffer." And with that she closed the bathroom door and played a Steve Taylor CD as loudly as she could.

Of course, now I seem to be on the mend from my cold, while Natasha is just beginning her turn. Since I've had what she is getting, she has my full sympathies.

But at least she doesn't have a mustache.

Copyright 2000 by David Learn. Used with permission.

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