If you say you feel like you’re getting a cold, someone’s sure to say, “Yeah, there’s one going around.”
As if there’s a designated office cold passed from person to person, like a card for someone who’s retiring. Perhaps the card is what’s transmitting the cold.
I always think two things when a cold seems to be en route: 1. It would be great if people who had a cold turned plaid, so you could know whom to avoid. 2. At least I don’t have to worry about washing my hands now. Got the cold, no point in opening doors with my sleeve.
Just kidding. I wouldn’t wish a cold on my worst enemy, not when I could wish the flu.
I get about six colds a year, none of which move past the “I think I’m getting a cold” stage. I take so much zinc I clink when I blink. I also take lots of vitamin C, and everything’s fine after two or three days — because, as you might have guessed, I do not actually have a cold at all.
Colds faux and real always start the same way: a tickle at the back of the throat, followed by the feeling that your soft palate has been wallpapered with fine-grit sandpaper. Slight fatigue, ennui, dry nose, a touch of chill. In other words, how everyone feels in January.
Sometimes you sneeze, but if the cold hasn’t announced itself in full goopy misery, this seems like an outlier, a symptom out of sequence. The evidence is mounting, but the verdict is not in.
I was feeling all these things when I was at the grocery store the other day, and I figured I’d best lay in some soup. It’s comfort food, like meatloaf, but easier to swallow, unless you make a meatloaf smoothie.
The soup options were overwhelming. You could have slow-cooked small-batch heirloom tomato bisque seasoned with lobster shavings and Himalayan pink salt for $4.99. Because it’s soup, that should do the trick, right? Wrong. It has to be chicken.
Ah: Here’s a can of Salty Beige Rubbery Salt-Chicken With Salted Soft Vegetables in Salt Broth, which is what Mother used to give me. She also used to make me gargle with hot saltwater, which is why every cold always ended with deer following me around wanting to lick my arm.
The store-brand soup labels featured things other than the ingredients. They were either “Traditional,” “Hearty” or “Chunky.”
You can assume “traditional” is for people who subscribe to the old ways and sit on the sofa swaddled in blankets with a glass thermometer in their mouth and an ice pack on their head.
“Hearty” is supposed to make you think it has extra flavor but probably means the meat is taken from the circulatory organs of poultry.
“Chunky” is self-explanatory, and you know you’re on the mend when you consider lunch and think, “You know what would hit the spot right now? Chunks.”
I bought them all, just to be safe. The next day all the minor cold symptoms were gone, so it was either a false alarm, or the act of buying soup drove the cold away.
Maybe a cold is not going around at all. Maybe it’s going around, but doing so counterclockwise, and if I stay on the right of people I can avoid it.