When I was younger, I would get joke books from the library, books by Bennett Cerf featuring jokes and puns that were probably old when they first appeared on vaudeville stages years before being published in his books. For some reason, I would read these books over and over (which I’m sure affected my sense of humor) and try to memorize my favorites. It never seemed to work, and the worst ones would get stuck in my brain.
There was one about a lion who got it in his arrogant head to go around and pester the rest of the denizens of the jungle asking them why they weren’t as strong and powerful as he was. After several beasts hemmed and hawed their way through their answers, the joke ended with an ant answering the lion with, “Gosh, man! I’ve been sick!”
Yeah, pretty bad, I know. I guess I’m just feeling a kinship with the ant these days. I can pinpoint almost to the minute when I got sick, or at least when I started feeling it. A week ago this past Monday Greg and Marshall were over playing some games and I had to go meet Ned for a bit. As I was leaving the meeting with Ned, around 9:15, I started shivering so much that I actually had trouble putting my car key in the ignition. Up until that minute, I never knew a person could shake that much from (what I thought was) the cold. After I spent the whole night alternately burning up and freezing, I figured out I was maybe sick.
After a day and a half of that, I decided to go to the doctor. Ryan volunteered to take me, and I took him up on it because I didn’t feel like I could drive, even though the doctor was about two blocks away. The doctor took X-rays and poked at me and pretty much said I’d need to wait it out, but she prescribed antibiotics “just in case.” Lee took me after he was off work to pick up those and the codeine-laced cough medicine, and I also stocked up on soup and a few other things.
That was Wednesday. From then until I went back to work this past Monday, I spent all of my time either in bed or on the folded-out couchbed in the living room, feeling sick enough that it was even hard for me to play my moves in Scrabulous.
I’m still not feeling all that great, but I’ve managed. I’m looking forward to not moving much this weekend, if I can help it.
It’s funny how disconnected I got in such a short time. In six days I saw two people I knew, and they were all at the front end. After Wednesday, I didn’t see anyone until I went back to work. I didn’t talk on the phone because talking made me cough, and I didn’t even keep up on email that much. It made me realize how easy it is to drop out if you want to: stop picking up the phone, quit updating your various online presences, don’t answer email – moving into a cave in the mountains is hardly even necessary at that point.
I’m not sure why, but it’s easy for me to tend in that direction. I like people and it’s good for me to be around people, but it seems like when I’m left to my own devices, I turtle. It’s probably directly related to my laziness. It’s hard to be around people, hard to be friendly, hard to not say stupid things and hard to not hurt people. It’s easier to hide away, the idea being that if I’m not around people, I’m not causing them problems.
That, of course, is a negative, almost fatalistic, outlook on life, and it certainly isn’t healthy. But, just like some person tends to be a shopaholic and someone else tends to drive over the speed limit, this is my tendency. And, just like those people have to be constantly vigilant, so must I. Being sick makes it too simple to take the easy route.