March 2, 2007

The Five Stages of Winter Illness

Just as the first buds of Spring are making themselves available for nipping, I have to go and contract a good old-fashioned Winter Flu. This is a robust and a respectable flu, the kind your grandfather would have contracted, the kind of flu that runs unopposed for City Council reelection in the rural South. It lurks in my chest cavity, sending rivers of thick mucus out in every direction like a series of slow-moving freight trains, except that every car is stuffed with phlegm and headache juice.

I am literally the embodiment of my worst childhood fear: lying in bed, struggling to keep the ropes of snot falling out of my face from sullying anything while my friends call for me to come play stickball with them in the sunny field outside my window. Naturally, “stickball” has a whole new meaning than it did when I was a kid, but I’m still pissed off to all hell. In fact, the wash of emotions I’m undergoing are downright fascinating, and in case there are any others out there who managed to sidestep disease all Winter only to be struck down in their hubris, I thought you should know: this is what you’re in for.


Recognize the Symptoms:
You keep up your morning jog, despite the horrible choking noises you make every time you try to inhale.

You assure yourself that your weak and feverish stupor is merely the workings of an overeager immune system, or the playful bitch slap of an oncoming allergy.

You drag your bleary ass out of bed and insist to everyone who tells you “you look like shit” that you, in fact, always look like shit.

You raise your eyebrows and say “funny, I feel fine” right before hacking up chunks of black stuff all over your no-longer friend.

How to Move on:
Look in a goddamned mirror. You are yellow, man. YELLOW. Sure, accidentally seeing a nude picture of Danielle Radcliffe could make anyone vomit, but that was days ago and you’re still tossing your cookies like Socrates at a Hemlock convention. It’s time to admit you’ve got a problem.


Recognize the Symptoms:
You admit that you’re sick, but refuse to admit that God didn’t personally cause the Holocaust.

You wake up in a gutter with your mouth tasting like grape Dimetapp and a whimpering child’s hair still clutched in your fist.

You shoot snot rockets everywhere, reasoning that if you have to deal with this shit, so should everyone else.

You watch Judge Judy in bed and totally side with Rudy because, honestly, fuck that bitch Miranda and her damn cell phone bills.

How to Move on:
Give in to the beast within. Let the blinding heat of your wrath wash through your system like a Tabasco suppository. Remember: in most states being sick in Spring is a legally acceptable defense for assault.


Recognize the Symptoms:
You find yourself ringing a bell, hoping that your significant other isn’t too busy brewing your tea to set up the N64.

You curl up into a big ball under the covers and see how many things you can name that you love about yourself. After fifty-eight, you fall asleep.

You masturbate whenever you get the least bit bored/titillated by TV commercials. This eventually constitutes every commercial break.

You taste the chocolate ice cream again, deciding at last that you like it best, followed by the strawberry, then the vanilla, then the soup you made by mixing them all together and letting them melt.

How to move on:
Read pamphlets about children starving in third-world countries. Failing that, watch porn until you find yourself feeling sorry for the actresses.


Recognize the Symptoms:
The mucus lodged in your head has begun speaking to you, and it doesn’t seem to care for the government very much.

Your eyes are watering so badly you can barely draw a good bead through the scope of your sniper rifle.

When the exploding snake head that appeared in your room invites you out for drinks and a quick swatch to the clam sideways, you totally understand what he’s talking about.

The doctors inform you that your “Winter Bug” was in fact an inoperable brain tumor, and that your delirium is a sign of imminent death.

How to Move on:
Reach for something, anything that will help you make sense of the macabre twist your life has taken. I recommend Linda Pastan’s excellent book The Five Stages of Grief.


Recognize the Symptoms:
You are unable to read this, let alone anything, as you have slipped into a death-coma.

You think you see a dead relative up ahead, but when you get closer it just turns out to be a weird tree and some old tires that made a cool silhouette.

God tells you that He forgives you for what you said about Him causing the Holocaust.

You don’t feel sick anymore.

How to Move on:
Return to Earth and devote your angelic life to voyeurism. Spy on people you were suspicious of in life and discover that yes, they were all plotting against you. Watch people having sex, vainly reaching down towards your ghostly, unfondle-able junk. Curse the metaphysical quandary that leaves you more in touch with human urges in death than you ever were in life.

Hope that helps!

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