By June Mathews
Late on the fifth day of my recent bout with the winter plague, by which time I had plowed through two-and-a-half giant economy-size boxes of tissues and watched far too much of the Disney Channel for my sanity’s sake, I shuffled through the den and past Jimmie on my way to the kitchen.
“You need to take a shower,” he said, sounding just a little too healthy for my taste. And the idea that he might be making a veiled statement about my personal appearance and/or hygiene habits wasn’t setting too well either. I wanted to backhand him.
“I’ve already had one today,” I croaked through a vocal haze of laryngitis. “And it seems to have washed my Miss America glow away.”
Sarcasm doesn’t readily translate when you barely have a voice.
Now in Jimmie’s defense, he thinks there’s nothing like a long, hot shower to unclog the sinuses, soothe a scratchy throat and otherwise cure whatever ails you. So in reality, his ill-timed suggestion was truly nothing more than concern for my comfort and welfare.
But by that stage of the sinus crud game, I would have taken offense had he presented me with a bouquet of roses and chocolate candy. I was sick of being sick, tired of being stuck at home, and falling further behind on work assignments by the day.
And honestly, I was looking as bad as I felt. While I managed to remain reasonably odor-free (as far as I knew; it’s not like my sense of smell was working), any motivation for styling the hair and putting on makeup was non-existent.
The clothing left a little to be desired, too. Short of hauling basketsful of laundry down to the basement and back, I was down to my bottom-of-the-drawer stuff: ripped sweatpants, tattered T-shirts and the irregular outlet underwear that never fit right but was too good to throw away (Go ahead, ladies, admit it. You’ve got some in the bottom of your drawer, too).
But the most frustrating thing about my situation was my total inability to do anything about it except treat the symptoms and wait for the crud to go away. And the winter crud, as we all know, comes and goes as it darn well pleases.
In the waiting, I missed a retirement party for a longtime work friend, a chamber of commerce banquet at which I was supposed to present awards to two other friends, and a bridal shower for the future daughter-in-law of yet another friend.
I understand, however, that all the events went just fine without me, which does nothing for my ego but is gratifying for the sake of my friends. And though I missed sharing the excitement of the occasions, neither did I share whatever wicked crud-causing germ someone else so generously shared with me.
Finally, after a week or so of coughing and croaking and sniffing and snorting, I started feeling like my old self again. And in the meantime, Jimmie wisely declined to again suggest that I take a shower. He must have seen the evil glint in my eye the first time and decided to let that dog lie.
I’m telling you, guys, if there’s anything worse than offending a woman when she’s at the top of her game, it’s offending a woman who’s been sick long enough to be down to her bottom-of-the-drawer underwear. So if you suddenly find yourself backhanded by an ailing woman during what remains of this winter crud season, don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.