I don’t often think about dying. But when I do, it’s usually at the gym or during holiday travel. The first time I thought that death was closer to me than a Starbucks drive-thru was during my initial spin class. This membership-paid torture session was run by a woman who clearly subsisted on a cocktail diet of caffeine, mixed with other people’s sweat and tears. And to top it off, she had Britney Spears on loop. I can’t be certain though. I suspect she also threw in some Christina, for variety. Until this day, I can’t bear to listen to a song by Kevin Federline’s ex without experiencing phantom posterior aching. It is awful.
But on that day, I foolishly chose a bike in the front row, thinking I’d look more like the next Tour de France winner if I rode in front of the pack. But I ended up looking more like a rodeo clown falling off of a unicycle than a doped up cyclist. Ever wonder if time stands still? The answer is “Yes, during spin class”. I’m sure there’s a group of physicists already making their way to the nearest spin class, as I type.
After an hour of mentally writing my will while spinning, it occurred to me that whoever invented the stationary bike might also enjoy poking their eyeballs with sharp rusted objects. It was like self-torture, but stationary. Afterward, fellow spin victims asked me, “How was your first spin class?” to which I responded, “I don’t know how to describe it, but for some reason the term ‘actively dying’ comes to mind”.
And then, every year after Christmas, I contract the flu. I’m not quite sure which strain I spent the first two weeks of January dying… I mean, recovering from. But I’m sure it’s the one that sounds like a chemical compound used to fuel large objects shot into outer space. This was all after waiting half a day at the doctor’s office, to be weighed, poked at with vaccination needles and told to come back the following year. All so that I can spend another half day reading through the office’s dog-eared selection of Parenting, Motherhood, and Good Housekeeping magazines.
My flu experience started on December 28th of 2013. I was to take an American Airlines flight from the center of the universe (Texas) to Seattle (2,100 miles northwest from the center of the universe). We arrived two hours early, because somehow I knew that we’d have to stand in the longest short line, to ever be in existence. We were traveling with our dog and forced to stand in a check-in counter line along with other pet owners, minors traveling without their parent and old people who refuse to believe in self check-in kiosks, smartphones or neighborhood kids “on my goddamn lawn!” There were three miserable travelers in front of us. And three employees were behind the counter, trying their best to act like as if they were on vacation, somewhere in the south of someplace. It was a 50-minute wait for us to get to the counter.
At some point between the time it took for me to tell the ticket counter guy that “You are an asshole, I am not checking in my wedding dress”, and the time it took for us to land, I contracted the flu. My wedding dress was in a cardboard box that he was eyeing with gold dollar signs. It fulfilled American Airlines’ check-in bag requirements but not the mental requirements of a man clearly descended from the inventor of the spin bike. I won but not for long.
It may not have been the fault of the ticket counter guy (aka Satan’s Little Helper). It may have been the fact that I was on a four-hour long flight that was being pumped with the recycled air of over a hundred fellow passengers, sharing tiny droplets of sweat, tears and disease. Either way, I woke up the next morning with a sore throat and an intense need to assign blame. The first face to come to mind was Satan’s Little Helper.
You know how you learned all about drugs in Health class? “This is your brain on drugs”? “This is your brain on alcohol”? Well, here’s a Gchat snippet of what I’ll label as “This is your brain on the flu”.
Monday, December 30, 2013 12:58 PM
I need to go to church. Nyquil isn’t working. 12:58 PM
Only the D-O-double G can save me now. 12:59 PM
Oh honey. You know Snoop Dogg changed his name. It’s Snoop Lion now.12:59 PM
Either way, our lovely dog is already sleeping in my spot on the bed. She knows that the end is near for me. 12:59 PM
Do you want to go to the doctor? 12:59 PM
No, they’ll just laugh at my symptoms and charge me co-pay. 1:00 PM
They’re trained not to laugh. 1:00 PM
That’s what they spend most of their time studying. 1:01 PM
And you don’t have co-pay. 1:01 PM
My eyeballs are burning. They feel like two free-range eggs frying on the hood of a black car…in Phoenix, Arizona…during a summer drought. I take that back. On Mercury. My two organic eggs are frying on the hood of a Nissan Altima on Mercury. 1:01 PM
And my back feels like little blue people are rubbing tiny little emery boards all over it, out of spite. 1:01 PM
Sounds like the flu. 1:01 PM
I don’t know if a doctor will say it’s the flu after hearing about free-range eggs and Nissans. They’ll think I’m hosting some sort of Smurf-themed carwash/brunch. 1:02 PM
It’s ok. If you find me at home, dead from the flu, just make sure not to move me until the paramedics get here. You don’t want to tamper with the scene of the crime. 1:03 PM
I’ve prepared a special pill jar for you. You know, just in case you decide to join me on the other side of the lucky rainbow. It’s not expected, but it sure might be nice to have some company. 1:04 PM
I’ll try to leave early and pick up some flu medication. Any requests?1:04 PM
Is Bartell’s selling morphine, nowadays? I’ll have two of those and maybe a York peppermint patty. 1:05 PM
Kidding about the York peppermint patty. 1:05 PM
Um, honey? You still there? 1:32 PM
And that is the brain with the flu.
How sick people entertain themselves: knit cold weather accessories for the dog. Sleeping cap with attached ear flaps, made by my fiancé. Sad face made by Mo (the dog).