I daisy-chained the heck out of this head cold.
It was something I’d wondered for years, myself.
A.K., bless his heart, was sick with a cold a couple of weeks ago, a cold I should point out that he gave to everyone else. As a matter of fact, Amanda is currently sick with a cold that originated, I would imagine, in the nostrils of some other five-year-old in A.K.’s kindergarten class.
Thankfully, it’s a private school.
(I really ought to write for 30 Rock; that sounds just like something Jack would say).
At any rate, A.K., while sitting at the dinner table two Sundays back, turned to me and asked point-blank: Where does snot come from?
Kids, huh. But, still, I bet you’ve wondered the same thing. Before passing it along to Amanda, I was the one hunkered down with mucus, and every time I sneezed I both scared the older cat into a hairball fit and saturated my brave little Kleenex completely.
And, yes, like everyone else on the planet, I looked at it, afterwards. And, yes, just like I’ve done since the dawn of time, I asked myself, Where on earth does all this snunk come from? (That’s a little word I made up for it: snot + junk).
It’s endless. I keep a runny nose for days and days after the cold has, for all intents and purposes, lifted.
And so, I looked at A.K. and said, “I just don’t know.”
Because, scientifically, I don’t.
But, since scare tactics and hearsay pandemics run rampant in my family, I am more than prepared to offer a completely made-up, barely tinted with truth, panic-riddled response to his question.
It comes from other people.
That’s right: only about 10% of the snunk you expel during your Time With Tissue is your own.
Think about it. If you’re passing around a cold, the flu, a stomach bug, what have you, you obviously have to be carrying around the germs of other people inside you. That’s what your body is trying to get rid of, the foreign ick.
Your own homemade ick, it’s more than happy to kick that around the bloodstream, but someone else’s. Forget about it.
Amanda, poor thing, is sneezing out a few of her own germs, but most of that—is mine. And most of what I had—was originally A.K.’s. And god only knows where he got his from. I’ve seen his kindergarten class, and trust me, private schools are no respecter of persons…anymore than a cold is.
We probably have on hand, I’d posit, anywhere between 3 and 257 different people’s germs running around our nasal cavities, at any given moment, and every germ their germ slept with, too. Now, according to my formula, you have to multiply that by 1,000,000 when you’re sick…and also, you have to assume that half those germs passed out at a frat party the weekend before, so…ahem.
This is kind of fun, making this all up. Because it’s difficult to completely disagree with me.
We are harbingers and overstuffed storage units of germs. That much we know.
Add to that, that when we’re not sick with a cold, or runny nose, where is that mucus, then? San Destin? If I carried around with me, all the time, the amount of Grody-Jodies I leave in those mountains of Kleenex when I am sick, then heaven forbid, I’d never smell another thing as long I lived. I’d be a mouth-breeder until the day I died.
That’s because it’s simply not there until someone else gives it to you, the snot, I mean.
It’s a little unsettling to think that at this very moment, the sniffles I’m still trying to evict from my nose are only partly mine. It’s also fascinating, though, for me to sit here and think about whose they were.
Let’s see…the people before me who had this cold, in order, were A.K., Wynn, GamVa, U.L., and Dodie. I got sick soon after Dodie, and so I could, theoretically daisy-chain this head cold in the following manner: Dodie got it from U.L.; A.K. begot Wynn’s, who begot GamVa’s, who begot U.L.’s, and then, if we traced it all the way back to A.K., then I could argue that, depending on all those others who were exposed and/or contributed to their colds, I am sitting at my keyboard under crud from well over twenty different people. I’ve got germs in me that have spent the last couple of weeks prior to moving in my nose at a bridge game, a catfish buffet, a swanky church Christmas party, two birthday shin-digs, a kindergarten class, and the emergency room.
They do get around, don’t they.
And to think, I’ve got remnants of all that lining both sides of my nose…no wonder I’m tired.
Sure this is a little disgusting for subject matter, but it beats feeling bad and sorry for myself. Because I cannot stand a runny nose. And I’m deciding to make the most of it, instead of being mad about. What would that change anyway? Nothing.
At least, at some point, it will eventually run its course. Unlike fat.
I remember, awhile back, I was working on this production, a premier of a show about witches called Maleficia. A woman who had been cast in the play quite happily lifted her shirt in front of me, baring her stomach, one rehearsal. She grabbed a handful of loose skin and said this was the reason for her diet.
“I’ve had this fat on me for the past thirty years,” she admitted, “I’ve lived with this fat for thirty years. It’s horrible. I can’t do it anymore. I don’t want to live like that.”
I was at first shocked, amused, and then concerned.
My god, I thought, what about me. How many years have I lived with fat, of any kind, having grown accustomed to it. Like it was a natural part of me.
That. That was the real panic.
It makes snot pale a little in comparison, I think. Who wouldn’t love to pass a little fat onto to someone else. (Don’t look at me, please).
Fat, in this context, becomes a bit too intimate and personal for me. I’d almost welcome a thousandfold of germs in lieu of that box of sugar cookies I know is waiting for me at the house. But, the point is, nature knows what’s best. Colds come and go.
Fat, though, tends toward forever.
And the shame in that is this: We don’t intentionally make ourselves sick, but we don’t really stop from putting bad foods in our bodies, either. We find some way to deserve our fat.
That has to stop. For me. And, I think I’m telling myself this more than anything else. This whole adjustment to a diabetic diet that I’m having to go through is making me sick, literally.
OK, no, just figuratively.
It’s merely ironic that I have a cold, I guess.
On the flip side, sneezing is still exercise.
And that’s good because it looks like I have a long workout ahead of me.