As I lay in bed, alternately groaning and blowing my sodden nose, my husband came into the room and asked how I was feeling. After a prolonged fit of coughing and sneezing, I attempted to rouse myself from my feverish, disoriented state and said, “Did you see that? I believe one of my lungs just flew out of my chest. Look! There’s Grandma, visiting me from heaven. Hi, Grandma! What are you doing riding that circus elephant?”
Concerned, my husband asked me if I’d like a couple of aspirin and some cough medicine. As he waited patiently for my answer, I considered the dire consequences which might occur if I agreed to the aspirin and cough medicine.
Aspirin always upsets my stomach, so I’d have to take some antacids. Antacids always leave me constipated, so I’d have to take a laxative. Cough medicine dries out my entire system, forcing me to drink vast quantities of water. Between the water and the laxative, I’d be stranded in the bathroom for days.
To kill time in the bathroom, I’d soak in a tub of hot, soapy water. The bubble bath would cause my skin to break out in a rash, so I’d have to take an antihistamine. Due to an allergic reaction, all my hair might fall out. While I was cleaning the hair out of the tub, I might slip on the wet floor and hurt my back, leaving me permanently disabled.
Them while I was standing in front of the mirror trying to color my now-bald scalp with artisitic strokes of eyeliner, I’d hear the doorbell ring. Looking out the window, I’d see the camera crew from Publishers’ Clearinghouse, there to present my multi-million-dollar prize.
Ecstatic, I’d pull on the bathroom door, only to find that my repeated hot baths had caused the door to swell shut. As I screamed, “Wait! Wait! I’m coming!,” the crew would pack up and drive away. Devastated at the loss of the fortune, I’d realize that, in spite of our promises, we’d no longer be able to send our grandson to medical school. In his disappointment, he’d turn to a life of crime and get arrested and we’d have to mortgage the house to raise bail. He’d probably jump bail and we’d lose the house. Then my husband would leave me for a voluptuous, 20-year-old Margarita-sipping aerobics instructor.
Suddenly my husband, who’d run out of patience waiting for an answer, said, “Well, do you want the aspirin and cough medicine or not?”
“Oh, sure, you’d love that, wouldn’t you? Then you could gallivant around town with your drunken floozy while our fugitive grandson ruins his life and I spend the rest of my lonely days with a bad limp and a bald head, pushing a rickety shopping cart full of all my belongings down Washington Street. I’m on to you, Mister!”
“Huh? Why don’t you come out in the living room and watch TV with me? Maybe it’ll take your mind off that nonsense.”
He had the remote control, so we watched 20 seconds of every program on at least 100 channels, then started back the other way. When he finally paused on the Discovery Channel for a close-up of two babboons picking lice off each other in a grooming exercise, I snatched the remote out of his hand, jerked open the front door, and threw the remote into the woods.
Maybe part of the blame for my bad temper and fevered musings is that my normally affectionate husband won’t kiss me for fear of catching my cold. At least, that’s his excuse. It could be the fact that I haven’t changed out of my robe or brushed my teeth or washed my hair for three days. I’m probably not very appealing. When I exit a room, I leave a wake of damp, crumpled tissues and the lingering aroma of Vicks Vapo-Rub. Tonight while he’s asleep, I’m going to kiss him right on the lips. I have a rolling pin hidden under my pillow in case he tries to escape.
Yesterday I spent most of the day composing a poison-pen letter to the makers of Kleenex tissues. I demanded to know why its tissue boxes are so lightweight that when I pull out a tissue, the box lifts off the nightstand and falls on the floor. How do they expect me to use both hands to get a tissue when I need one hand to hold my throbbing head together?
In a fit of pique, I nailed the tissue box to the nightstand. I missed with the first swing of the hammer, but the gaping hole it left is just the right size to hold a soft drink can. If the tissue company refuses to correct this problem, I’ll drive to company headquarters and nail the box to the simian forehead of the company president.
Maybe I’d feel better if I could get some sleep, but constant interruptions prevent it. The telephone is now floating in the toilet, where I threw it after the tenth robo-call about my expiring car warranty. The incessant warbling of a bird outside my window has prompted me to take a few shots at it with the loaded pellet gun I keep next to my bed. And when the branches of a large oak tree scraped at the window pane, I stomped into the yard in my bathrobe and flailed at it with a hatchet. When my husband came home and asked what happened to the tree, I snapped, “Hey, I dropped an acorn into the hole. Get off my back!”
This morning, on the way to the drug store for a prescription, I passed a long line of children waiting to speak to the store Santa. Just for a moment, I considered tapping on the shoulder of the charming cherub at the end of the line and whispering, “He’s a fake, kid. There is no Santa Claus. Pass it on. Merry Christmas, you little rug rat!”