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2004-11-08 - 3:07 p.m.

I wasn’t one of those kids who got waited on when he got sick. True enough, I got pretty good treatment, but mostly being sick for a day resembled your usual weekend, with added pokes, prods and probes to determine my exact temperature and the approximate circumference of the affected area. (Damn Poison Sumac.)

Once I hit the age of seven, my mom had trickled down all the standard tricks, and expected me to take advantage of them. There were some things I was too young to handle: self-medication, the stove top for tea with honey, and of course, the electric blanket. After I tried to bring a potato back to life in a Frankenstein-like experiment, I then forgot about it, leaving the tater wrapped in a still piping hot electric blanket on a chair in the living room. The end result of the experiment: an extremely dead potato, a ruined pair of chinos, and an extra shower for my father.

Still, even if one isn’t besieged by chicken soup and obsessive attention, the sick day was normally one to enjoy, curled up before the TV, warmed by the majority of quilts in the house, a belly full of hot beverage, the comforting thought that you were not required to learn Algebra at that particular moment.

In college, the entire equation simplified with no parental unit to run you through the gauntlet of tests to see how ill you actually were. Quick hand to the head, look in the eyes, test of the glands on the throat. (A dead give away of sickness for me.) Only if I passed these would I be allowed my sick day. There is no happier moment in one’s freshman year than the realization that no one takes attendance. So long as you’ve got hold enough on the assignments, one can happily lay in their dorm room, suffering the terrible blight of a slight sniffle.

And now, the real world…where hourly pay means one day nursing a throbbing forehead equals out to being short on your rent, or, worse, your bar tab. Considering the hefty consequences of a day home, I’m actually been on the sales floor on days when entire rolls of toilet paper have fallen before my ill will. With glassy eyes, pale complexion…actually, upon consideration, I have glassy eyes and pale complexion anyway so let’s throw those into the comparative. With glassier eyes and paler complexion, I made my rounds, not exactly pushing numbers, put present and due my minimum wage.

Falling ill on the weekend, especially when you feel it at the onset of Friday, is cause for absolute despair. Hangovers are requisite hurdles to be leaped over during the coming mornings; this is known and prepared for. Water and bread are stationed within a staggers length of one’s bed along with an extra-hefty curtain to block out ever last ray of offending light from disturbing one’s stupor. But add to this equation a head cold, flu, or…ear infection, and you have a dollop of not-fun large enough to give even Hugh Heffner a bad day.

Lying in watered down agony on my couch watching the usual DVD’s and munching on the last scraps of food left in my run down apartment, I long for the days when I had cable, a full cabinet, and a mother who kept a surprisingly well stocked medicine cabinet. Since my self medication was limited to coffee with whiskey in it – no tea in the house – I wasn’t able to do much for my condition except distract the concentration of my mind from the racked pain in my head, to the disgusting taste that results when one combines the efforts of Ireland and Columbia. The fact of the matter is, my little illness ranks about a one, from one to ten, on the discomfort meter, but without all those comfort objects – stuffed bear, tea, Advil, afternoon movies on the WB – it’s really easy to turn a little sniffle into a dire and desperate situation.

God forbid I get a splinter…the wailing might actually drown out the punk band next door, that just recently added a Tuba to their wall of sound.

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