They came from all over the country. Normally I don't get to be in the same room with so many of them at once, but New Year's Eve is a special, festive occasion, where they all gather into a giant room with me and we hang out all night long.
I am, of course, referring to germs.
Also the friends who brought them, I suppose, but a week later all my friends have left, and their germs have not. We thought we had antibodies. I figured that I'd weathered Adams afflictions, Pittsfield pathogens, and Berkshire bugs. But my body was not ready for the Portland plague, the California crud, the Boston blahs, and the Washington D.C. worst germs ever that combined a Maryland malady with a Virginia virus. (And yes, these are all places from whence friends came to visit this New Years.)
So we're sick. Both of us, me and my girlfriend. Which as far as I'm concerned, largely negates the main benefit of a girlfriend, which is to have someone to take care of you and make you chicken soup when you have a cold. When people swear wedding vows, they say "in Sickness and in Health," but if you're healthy, you can go out and do things alone, so the other person isn't really too important. It's when you're sick that you need someone healthy to take care of you. But anyone who lives with you is likely to get sick when you do. That's why I must advise everyone not to live with the person you love. Have them as a neighbor instead, preferably with a large kitchen and access to fresh chicken.
Alas, it's too late for me to take my own advice, and so I'm here being sick in a way that I consider the worst possible job. Being sick is like being an air traffic controller and military commander at once, where your goal is mainly breathing and not being in pain.
"Blockage in right nostril is critical. Clear those passages, Private! Fire tissue! Spinal pain detected in sector 7. Rotate 30 degrees left on my mark. Mark! Warning, nausea levels increasing! Abort rotation! Abort rotation! Watch for post-nasal incursion. Private, clear that blockage in the left nostril! Incoming coughing fit at twelve o'clock. And two o'clock. And four o'clock. And all night long."
It's a pretty unpleasant job, made all the more unpleasant by the fact that you don't get paid. (Or at least, I don't. If you get paid to be sick, you either have a job with good vacation policies, or you are Howard Stern.) I feel like being sick wouldn't be quite as unpleasant if it at least felt like a job we were being paid for.
"Wow, 16 hours of non-stop work today, Seth, you're going to get a lot of overtime!"
"Great job on the coughing this week; I can really see you've been practicing. That will be noted in your review."
"Snot production is up 50%; I think you're due for a raise!"
I have produced a lot of snot. I think if I saved everything I've cleared from my passages this week, it could form a small disgusting animal. Maybe a Phlegmish Giant Rabbit.
But I don't mean to complain. With water and rest, I have every confidence that I will be recovered and healthy again just in time for next New Year's Eve.
Seth Brown is a freelance writer, the author of "From God To Verse," and really hopes he is better by the time you read this column. His award-winning humor column, "The Pun Also Rises," appears weekly in the North Adams Transcript.