It started the afternoon after my return home from New York City.
All of a sudden, in the wink of a barfly, my nose started leaking all sorts of stuff. I found myself avoiding everyone at work like the plague, afraid that people would view the unsightly snot faucet that my classic Greek schnoz had become.
Later that night, not only was my nose leaking, but I had a sandpapery sore throat. And, I started to feel all cramped and achy, too. Like I was eighty-years old, or something.
The next morning, for some reason, I woke up in my bed, at around four o'clock. It was about an hour earlier than I needed to awaken. I was all alone, since Corb was away in Virginia this week, studying how to become a better Hotel Manager.
If you ask me, 4:00 in the morning is the worst time of day to wake up. That's when all your worst fears and insecurities take roost. And here's what my inner voice started to say to me:
Swine flu...you've got swine flu...
"No, that's ridiculous!" the more rational part of my brain tried to argue, feebly. "Why in the hell would I have swine flu?"
Think about it... continued that irrational part of my brain, which, by the way, sounds a bit like Jacob Marley scaring the shit out of old Scrooge. You were in New York. Surrounded by people! You spent hours on a train, spent time at Penn Station. You slept in a hotel next to a porn store. You even spent some time at a bus station! You spent hours and hours surrounded by the great unwashed. Swine flu...you've got swine flu!"
You know, the irrational part of your brain is most effective at four in the morning. Frankly, the other guys crammed inside there really weren't awake enough to argue. So there I lay, clinging desperately to my designer bedsheets, eyes staring up morosely at the darkened ceiling, my body shaking, convinced that I had contracted the deadly dreaded swine flu, and only had a few days to live.
"Is this how my life was to play out?" I wondered. Never knowing if my book would be published? Never getting to see my children grow up and get married? Well, okay, yes. Yes, I've already seen one child grow up and get married. Stop arguing with me!
Should I go to work that day? If I truly had swine flu, I could contaminate and kill the whole office. Should I even get near my kids? Should they go to school? Swine flu's most dangerous to young men. Had I doomed Theo to a chaste, unloved life?
Should I alert the media? Should I put into action my "as I lay dying" plan, where I would call everyone to my bedside, one by one, and recite to them in exacting detail every single bad thing that they had ever done to me, so that by the time each person left me that person was left a broken shell of a human being, and there was much wailing and gnashing of teeth?
Would I get the time to carry out my plan? It would take a lot of phone calls. And, travel time. Could people work it into their schedule? How much time did I have, exactly?
I tell you, that hour of my life was a miserable one, a time spent wallowing in fear and loathing. Now that I think about it, it was almost exactly the way I felt the night that I lost my virginity to a trampy chorus girl after a performance of You're a Good man, Charlie Brown.
And even worse, all during this time, and for the next two days, one song was playing through my head, continuously. That stupid Kara DioGuardi song from the American Idol finals. Over and over again. Every step you climb another mountain... How about if I don't want to climb another mountain with every step? What the hell am I, a Von Trapp? Somebody, kill me. Please!
Be that as it may, I am happy to report that, this morning, my throat started to feel a little bit less like sandpaper.
And, the snot factory has shut down, for the most part. I don't feel as achy as I had, either.
And from this, I can only draw one firm conclusion.
I am a swine flu SURVIVOR.