It all started last week with a mild irritation in the back of my throat. At first, I tried to persuade myself that I was just allergic to my friend’s basement.1 After three days, when the accumulated symptoms had finally become more than the sum of their irritating parts, I had no choice but to face the truth: I had contracted a summer cold.
How to Survive a Summer Cold:
Step One: Pretend that you are fine. After all, it’s summer. People don’t get colds in the summer. Patently ignoring your symptoms, carry on with all of your scheduled summer activities. After all, you’ve been planning these frolicsome fancies for months. It would be infamous to miss out on any of them due to something as lame as a summer cold. So slather yourself in Vicks VapoRub, jam some balled-up tissues into your nostrils, pop a cough drop, and get out there!
Step Two: See your symptoms as companions. When your symptoms become too serious to be ignored, decide to treat them as fellow travelers. Consider your chesty cough as a companion on your road trip: a companion that not only listens but one who also takes the time to speak back. See your sniffle as a sun-tanning ally: after all, doesn’t our skin tan best through a mild sheen of liquid? Your upper lip will soon have the best-developed tan on your entire body. Invite your chills and chapped lips along on your summer adventures: after all, they’ve already made it clear that they’re not going anywhere without you. And who knows? Maybe they will like your destination so well that they will stay on and let you return home in peace. Furthermore, perhaps that throbbing head and those aching eye balls which you’ve also been toting along will prove their mettle by assisting you in catching up on all of that sleep that you missed last semester. The bottom line is that you’ll never know how your symptoms can aid you until you learn to see them as friends rather than foes.
Step Three: Have some fun with it. Believe it or not, there are quantifiable benefits to having contracted a summer cold. For instance, you can make some of those disturbing, conspiracy-theory type phone calls without the assistance of a voice scrambler. Second, you can claim your summer cold as an excuse not to participate in whatever looms largest on your List of Summer Activities to Be Avoided at All Costs.2 Third, contracting a summer cold means that you have the option of actually staying home in your cotton pajamas and curling up into a tiny, pitiful ball while watching X-files reruns—something that you long to do during the rest of the year when you don’t actually have the option.3
The truth is that, like it or not, you and your summer cold are stuck with each other. It is in your best interests to make the most your time together.
1. I hate basements.
2. For me, it’s being invited to water ski, boogie board, or participate in any other type of water sport, mostly because I’m so horrifically bad at any water-related activity more complicated than basic swimming. (How bad, you may ask? Really bad. We’re talking she-must-be-doing-it-on-purpose-for-attention bad. Convinced-you’re-watching-an-aquatic-farce bad. Bad. Bad, bad, bad.) For you, it may be 1) a dysfunctional family function “organized” by Drunk Uncle Stu, 2) a beachside gossip-fest with your least enjoyable collection of dishy girlfriends, or 3) the invitation to chaperone another junior high lock-in. Whatever. (This is probably the point at which my mother would wish me to inform you that is actually no Drunk Uncle Stu in our family: he's purely a rhetorical device.)
3. Whoops. My third point ironically contradicts my first point. Again.