101 Ways To Pass The Time When You Have A Cold
1. Stand in front of the bathroom mirror and perform the voice-over for a Discovery Channel documentary on spelunking. "While stalactites often take millennia to form, this fine specimen — composed entirely of snot — formed in a matter of hours and now descends in majestic grandeur from the nose ring in the left nostril."
2. Drink tea.
3. Blow your nose.
4. Buy a bag of Halls mentholated cough drops.
5. Run out of Kleenex late at night. Use toilet paper instead until you start to worry about running out of toilet paper; switch to paper towels.
6. Run out of paper towels; switch to notebook paper.
7. Run out of notebook paper; switch to Post-It notes.
8. Run out of Post-Its; switch to sleeves.
9. Run out of shirts; switch to lampshades.
11. Short out power; switch to cats.
12. Scare cats; switch to cooked lasagna noodles.
13. Run out of pasta. Put on your shoes, schlep to the corner deli, and pay way too much for more Kleenex because the deli is the only place open.
14. Open a new box in the elevator because you have begun to drip.
15. Sigh at the pathos of the common cold.
16. Suck on a Halls mentholated cough drop for eleven seconds; spit out the Halls mentholated cough drop and wonder aloud why you never remember how much you hate Halls mentholated cough drops.
17. Chuck the rest of the bag of Halls mentholated cough drops into the trash.
18. Buy a box of Luden's.
19. Eat the entire box of Luden's in an hour. Wonder aloud why you never remember that Luden's is basically just candy and doesn't work.
20. Buy a sleeve of Velamints.
21. Blow your nose.
22. Install a defroster on your glasses so that you can read and drink your eighteenth cup of tea at the same time.
23. Regret not writing a Tomato Nation column last week, while you still had your health.
24. Reread Gogol's The Nose.
25. Discover that, by inhaling rapidly through your nose, you can imitate the sound of an engine revving. Lean over the cats and rev your sinuses repeatedly until they wake up from their naps, get annoyed, and slink off.
26. Suck on a Velamint for eleven seconds; spit out the Velamint and wonder aloud why you never remember that Velamints taste like the malevolent spawn of purse lint and Kaopectate.
27. Chuck the rest of the sleeve of Velamints into the trash. Tell the sleeve of Velamints — which has not plummeted satisfyingly to the bottom of the trash can but instead sits cheekily at the top, buoyed by approximately seventeen thousand used Kleenex and refusing to get out of your sight in the name of all that is holy — that its existence is an insult to all other mints, and that you can't speak for other consumers, but you personally feel that the use of the prefix "vela-" in its name to imply some sort of flight demeans not only the act of flying but the intelligence of the mint-eating public, because only in an Orwellian nightmare could the experience of eating a Velamint possibly compare to soaring among the clouds, and lastly, while you don't generally feel comfortable using the term "abortion" to refer to food items given your proven fondness for bologna sandwiches, you will most certainly make an exception in the case of the chocolate Velamint, which, if food had a circus, would belong in the gallery of freaks alongside Koogle and pork rinds.
28. Feel a sudden wave of depression wash over you because you have spent the last fifteen minutes snarling into your trash can at a sleeve of Velamints.
29. Drink tea.
30. Blow your nose.
31. Get knocked down by another wave of depression because you didn't even get the cold from kissing.
32. Think about how you did get the cold. Think about all the random, anonymous, possibly-germ-laden surfaces you have touched in the last few days. Think about how the virus probably sat quietly on a table at a coffee shop or on a door handle, waiting for its chance, and lodged its tiny self deep in one of your fingerprints, knowing that you would eventually rub your face and that from anywhere on your face it's just a short whistling-Dixie stroll to your mucus membranes.
33. Struggle not to give in to the Howard-Hughesian "germs…EVERYWHERE!" panic attack you can feel coming on.
34. Suffer a Howard-Hughesian "germs…EVERYWHERE!" panic attack.
35. Blow your nose.
36. Spend several minutes trying to replicate the amusing "huuhhh-OOOONNNK" noise you just generated somehow while blowing your nose.
37. "Faaahhhhhhhnk." No, not quite…
38. "Bbbbllllllssshhh." Dammit.
39. "Sweeeeee!" No, no, no!
42. "Hoooooooffpllll." Almost…there…
43. "Hrrrrraaammmmpppp." …almost…
44. "Huuhhh-OOOONNNK!" Niiiiiice.
45. Note with a mixture of horror and pride that that last "huuhhh-OOOONNNK" blew an actual hole in the Kleenex, through which you can see the cats dashing under the bed.
46. Drink tea.
47. Try to nap.
48. Cough a lot. Cough some more. Cough again.
49. Wonder aloud if maybe you shouldn't give those Velamints another chance, if they'll forgive you for your earlier tirade. Think better of it.
50. Continue coughing.
51. Stop coughing, but keep pretending to cough because one of the cats is trying to sleep on your stomach and it's fun to watch him sproing around.
52. Inspect claw marks on stomach.
53. Give up on napping.
54. Drink tea.
56. Find a plastic drinking straw in the back of your silverware drawer. Using the straw, a roll of packing tape, and thumbtacks, fashion a nostril-sized attachment for the vacuum cleaner. Plug in the Hoover and insert the rig into your right nostril. Prepare to turn on the Hoover. With your finger hovering over the power button, consider that, although you have had the occasional stroke of genius in your life, this might not qualify as one of them. Cringe as you picture your mom at your funeral, forced to explain between sobs that everything in your skull got sucked into the vacuum bag and the side of your head collapsed inwards like a broken volleyball. Remove the straw from your nostril, take the rig apart, and put the Hoover away.
58. Rebuild the rig onto the front of the Dustbuster. Mom…funeral…broken volleyball…take the rig apart and put the Dustbuster away.
59. Blow your nose.
60. Paint entire face with Chapstick.
61. Drink tea.
62. In the service of finding a silver lining in the situation, vow to perfect your loog-hocking technique once and for all.
63. Fail to perfect your loog-hocking technique. Fail even to come close to perfecting your loog-hocking technique. Vow never to vow to perfect your loog-hocking technique ever again. Wipe off your chin.
64. Go to bed.
65. Feel hot. Throw the sheets off.
66. Feel very very cold. Huddle under the sheets.
67. Wake up bathed in sweat. Throw the sheets off again. Go back to sleep.
68. Wake up with chattering teeth. Huddle under the sheets again. Go back to sleep.
69. Repeat 65-68 fifty-five times or until your alarm goes off.
70. Lie in bed listening to the alarm go off for almost half an hour, because your ability to pick your phlegm-soaked head up from your pillow roughly approximates your ability to pry a paper clip off of the weapons-grade magnet in the basement of the Pentagon.
71. Blow your nose.
72. Blow your nose.
74. Blow your nose.
75. After a particularly vigorous nose-blowing, go completely deaf for five minutes. Find the silence rather enjoyable. Plan to go deaf again at around the same time the cats start agitating for their lunch.
76. Deliver a stern lecture to your sense of taste, demanding that it return immediately.
77. Drink tea.
78. Encourage Little Joe to do his yawning in your face for the entire year now, since you cannot smell anything at the moment.
79. Sneeze "accidentally" on Little Joe.
81. Obsess over whether you have become addicted to Afrin.
82. Blow your nose.
83. Use the internet to look up a Wiccan spell that would send your nose, your sinuses, your inner ears into another dimension.
84. Cast the spell. Fume in the general direction of Wiccans when it doesn't work.
85. Realize that it didn't work because you actually said "dose, siduses, and idder ears" during the chanting portion.
86. That sneeze towards the end probably didn't help, either.
87. Feel guilty about fuming in the general direction of Wiccans.
88. Use the internet to look up a Wiccan spell without any Ms or Ns in it.
89. Start to blow your nose. Hear the delicate tissue beneath your nose howling, "Noooooo!"
92. Feel sorry for yourself.
94. Blow your nose.
95. Get grumpy about the fact that your fever dreams never involve cute boys.
96. Worry about the meaning of a fever dream in which you chased a top-hat-wearing strawberry through the halls of your elementary school.
97. Draft a design for a phlegm-powered automobile.
98. Watch TV.
99. Hate everyone on TV because none of them has a cold.
100. Hate every other living thing in the world that doesn't have a cold.
101. Blow your nose.
September 16, 2002