Treating the plague

Thursday, June 28, 2001 at 1:00am

I come from women who ascribe to the exorcist school of healing.

"Was that a cough?" Grandma would ask, throwing her hand to your forehead.

And before you could say influenza, she had Vicks salve smeared all over your body, chicken soup boiling in the cauldron and the vaporizer spewing fumes that took the varnish off the furniture.

"You have to purge those germs," Grandma declared as she glugged her homemade potion of licorice-flavored Drano down your throat.

I don't know if we actually healed any faster or if dying just seemed preferable to the cure.

"You don't look so good," Sweetie says. "You're a little bug-eyed."

On Tuesday, Sweetie caught the bug. He sneezed once, blew his nose twice, then popped right back to normal. Meanwhile, 48 hours later, the Angel of Death is sitting at the foot of my bed filing his fingernails.

"Just bury me in my bed," I moan.

Standing 2 feet outside the sneeze zone and holding a dust mask over his mouth, Sweetie stares down at me. My teeth are chattering, my bones ache, my eyes are puffed out like a molly fish, and you could grill fajitas on my forehead.

"Does this mean you're not cooking dinner?" he asks.

After the bed levitates a foot off the floor and my head spins 360 degrees, he scampers off to the kitchen to forage for food. Half an hour later he's back with a tray of steaming canned chicken noodle soup. Walking past me, he plops down in front of the TV, turns on the game and proceeds to slurp the soup down. During a commercial, he finally notices my skeletal arm waving from the bed.

"Oh," he says, as he licks the last drop off his lip, "did you want some?"

Having fasted for a day

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