Let's imagine you awoke on Christmas Day with a cough. Not a tickle, not a dry throat you get from sleeping in a room with electric radiators, not that raw throat you get from talking too loud and too long at a party the night before. No. You woke up with wet hack that sounds like you're trying to bring up a glue-sodden fur ball from the depths of your lungs. What do you do?

Option No. 1:

Thank gosh you thought ahead and bought a COVID test kit at the drugstore. There was one left on the shelf. Some kind altruistic soul left one, so the season may pass safely for all. You take the test, and sure enough: two lines. You're pregnant! With infectious potential.

Well, let's ride it out, and have someone put dinner under the door. Just give me lefse! What do you mean, it doesn't fit? Unroll it. I'll roll it back up when it's in my room.

Option No. 2:

You say, "Let's (cough) go to (hagggggghghhhghhg) a movie."

I'm guessing someone in your household said, "You know, you just spent so much effort hawking up a tubucular bolus, you turned blue from effort. So maybe a loud movie, where the music will drown out the sound of your pulmonary convulsions?"

So you ended up at "West Side Story," where I regret to inform you that the loud dissonant glory of Leonard Bernstein's exceptional score was incapable of masking your spasms. I'm not a doctor, but I'm thinking that if your cough can be heard over the wild whirl of the "Mambo" sequence at the "Gym Dance," you should consult a professional.

Then again, people in the back might not have heard the coughs, so you saved a few for the quiet, tender, contemplative moments.

"Maria! I just HUACH a girl named HORRAGG! And suddenly it GRACHHHptui again!"

We've all had moments where we get a tickle that has an irrepressible insistence. You just have to clear your throat. Every symphony recording of a live performance has someone who has to woof or hark during the tender part of the adagio. If you've been struck with Sudden Obvious COVID Symptom Syndrome during the trailers, maybe you ought to leave. They'll probably give you a refund. Ask at the booth.

"I'm sorry you want a refund, may I ask why? Did you not like Spielberg's interpretation of the 1961 classic, which many have called a brilliantly kinetic inhabitation of the original, but others criticize for its indifference toward Black experience at the time?"

"No, I was suddenly struck with a conspicuously auditory symptom of COVID, and I think maybe my soppin' wet hack-fests might alarm or annoy others."

"Oh, of course! Here's all your money. In fact, here's extra."

I wasn't particularly worried about getting sick, because I have had all the shots, tested positive for the COVID last August, was wearing a probably inefficacious mask and was sitting behind the hacker. Mostly I was annoyed. What type of ill person goes to a crowded movie theater during a pandemic?

And it gets better: This person had no mask. Now, I'm not some type who'll pop up in a TikTok, karening someone for not wearing a hazmat suit in the produce aisle in late 2021, but at this point, if you're going to the movie theater with a wracking hack, something in your head should say, "Oh, right, probably should swaddle the ol' mug, just to be polite."

I really enjoyed "West Side Story" despite this, so it's possibly the best movie ever made.