Oh, how superior I felt, watching my co-workers blow their noses and cough into their elbows all December long.
Not me. I wasn’t getting sick. Normally I’m the guy who catches every cold. But not this year. This year I got a flu shot for the first time ever, worked myself into the best shape I’ve been in for a decade and finally quit smoking.
“Colds and flus? Don’t make me laugh. Those are for YOU people with your weak immune systems. Not me. I am strong. Not just of body, but of mind and spirit. Strong like bull. I brush colds and flus off my shoulder the way you sickly mortals brush off dandruff. Ha ha ha! Bow before me, the invulnerable man!”
Then one night a couple of weeks ago, I went to the movies and I started getting chills. I didn’t touch my popcorn. I didn’t take off my coat. I was freezing. I felt like I might actually die right there in the middle of “Zero Dark Thirty.” (As an aside, the only redeeming thing about seeing that movie that night was this dude in the theater who yelled “We got him!” at the end. Thanks for being you, theater-yelling dude. That really made me chuckle following such an emotionally taut CIA procedural.)
By the time we got home I had a fever, and I was still unable to get warm. So I wrapped myself in sweaters, turned the heat up to (gasp!) 65, took some cold medicine and went to bed. I felt lousy the whole weekend, but I stayed in and got plenty of sleep and was ready for work by Monday — because I’m an idiot. Come Wednesday, I could barely stop coughing long enough to call in sick. (When I hung up, my girlfriend, Alana, said, “Nice wet cough you threw in there for authenticity.” And I said, “Yeah. I didn’t even have to try.”)
The next day she was sick, too. Oh, did I mention it was the anniversary of our first date? We had planned to celebrate by revisiting the same places we went for dinner and drinks that night. And, despite the sickness, we basically did — except instead of getting sushi we lay in bed wheezing, instead of sipping Manhattans we took NyQuil, and instead of kissing goodnight we coughed at each other across piles of germ-ridden Kleenex.
I missed three days of work in all, and I was pretty useless over the long weekend, too. I came back to work on Tuesday, coughing and sniffling like everyone else. I was beaten, humbled, mortal once more.
And that’s the worst part. I hated getting sick, but more than that I hated being forced to abandon my totally unearned (and ultimately, like, just entirely misguided and quite false) sense of superiority. I’m not too good to get sick, as January has proven. But I’ll always have December. Back then I was beautiful. The whole world was mine. I was healthy and full of vigor and, like everyone who feels that way, all too sure that it would last.
— The Indoorsman
— The Indoorsman