Don’t come near me

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Opinion - Jim Mullen The Vil­lage Id­iot Con­tact Jim Mullen at mullen.

I have that thing that’s go­ing around. I know it’s go­ing around be­cause ev­ery­one I speak to knows some­one who has it or has had it. “Sore throat?” they ask. “Yes.” “Cough­ing?” “Yes.” “Can’t sleep? “That’s it.” “Feel tired and cranky?” “Yes, darn it!” “Lasts for­ever?” Stan, in his long white jacket, nods know­ingly. He has al­ready seen many, many cases like mine this morn­ing. If only he were a doc­tor and not my butcher, I would feel bet­ter. “It’s the same thing Bob has,” he pro­nounces. With no urine sam­ple, no ch­est X-ray and no stetho­scope, Stan the butcher has done what House, M.D. could not. Would Stan be of­fended if I got a sec­ond opin­ion from the guy down the street who does my taxes?

“It’s your life,” says Stan. “If you want to throw it away on some quack, be my guest. He’ll tell you the same thing, it’ll just cost you more.”

“For once, Stan is right,” says Char­lie the ac­coun­tant. “You’ve got the same thing Bob has. We’re see­ing a lot of that this year. But I can’t be­lieve you went to Stan be­fore you came to me. Stan’s an id­iot. He tried to do his own taxes one year. He took de­duc­tions even Wil­lie Nel­son wouldn’t try to get away with. When are you guys ever go­ing to learn?”

“So that’s the di­ag­no­sis? I have that thing that’s go­ing around? How long does it last?”

“We don’t know. Bob’s still got it. It’s been al­most a month.”

“He’s still got it? But he was at our house for din­ner just last Sun­day. Don’t you think Bob should stay away from peo­ple un­til he’s feel­ing bet­ter? Do you re­ally think it’s smart for him to go out while he’s still sick? Is he go­ing around town spread­ing this on pur­pose? Come to think of it, this thing hit me Mon­day or Tues­day, right af­ter we saw him. You and Stan should be warn­ing peo­ple about Typhoid Bob.”

Julie, the high school French teacher, also thought I might have that thing that’s go­ing around.

“Drink plenty of flu­ids and watch ‘The Young and the Rest­less,’” she told me.

“Why should I watch ‘The Young and the Rest­less’?”

“You don’t have to, but it al­ways makes me feel bet­ter. No mat­ter how bad things are go­ing in my life, I can al­ways be sure that it’s go­ing worse for the peo­ple on that show.”

It’s sad that de­spite all the ad- vances we’ve made in butcher­ing, ac­count­ing and French lessons over the years, there is still no cure for that thing that’s go­ing around. What’s worse, I’m not even sure Stan, Char­lie and Julie are even work­ing on a cure.

I sup­pose I could go to a real doc­tor and sit around a wait­ing room full of cough­ing, sneez­ing sick peo­ple, but I’m afraid I’ll catch some­thing even worse. Sally said I should start drink­ing green tea and tak­ing echi­nacea. I said I’d rather stick to West­ern medicine. Not be­cause I don’t like herbs, it’s just that we’ve got plenty of the other stuff ly­ing around the house.

At the bot­tom of the bath­room drawer, I found three foil-backed sheets of pills, half used, each sheet with pills of a dif­fer­ent color. There were no in­struc­tions, no clues as to ex­actly what they were sup­posed to cure. Were th­ese for al­ler­gies or for nasal con­ges­tion? Or were they for those achy, flu-like symp­toms for coughs and colds? Is this an an­ti­his­tamine? What is his­tamine, any­way? And why should I be against it? What if I’m pro­his­tamine?

I also found many half-used bot­tles of var­i­ous cough medicines -- some for day­time, some for night. They all said not to drive while tak­ing the stuff be­cause it will make you drowsy. Not drowsy enough to sleep, just drowsy enough so that you can’t drive. Af­ter a cou­ple of drowsy, but sleep­less, cough-filled nights, it fi­nally hits me that maybe I should try sleep­ing in the car.

Sue had made that very same sug­ges­tion days ago. She doesn’t re­ally care if I get any sleep; she just doesn’t want to catch what­ever it is that’s go­ing around.

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