February 16, 2001
I recently became reacquainted with cough syrup. This was not voluntary, but I’ve caught a painful, hacking cough this winter, and since it’s been several years since I last took cough syrup, I’ve forgotten how completely ineffective it was. The last time I took cough syrup, I might as well have swallowed some recycled transmission fluid. That’s what it tasted like, and it was about as good at stopping a cough. But when you’re coughing, can’t sleep, and have had all the hot tea you can stand, you’ll take just about anything. (Technically it’s not true that last night I couldn’t sleep. I just couldn’t sleep for more than fifteen minutes before I’d wake up coughing. This was just long enough for me to start dreaming. It was that same dream about being back in high school taking a chemistry exam, only this time I knew all the answers, and I was the only one who wasn’t naked.)
The cough syrups I used to take were all made from a mix of grain alcohol, morphine, purple food coloring, and maple syrup. This didn’t stop you from coughing, but at least for two to four hours you believed it wasn’t you coughing, but rather that giant banana that had mysteriously appeared in the corner of the room. It’s been so long since my last interaction with cough syrup that I thought some advancement might have been made. Medical science has, after all, made some progress in the past few years. They’ve almost but not quite sort of mapped the human genome, cloned a sheep, and developed a new strain of corn that is absolutely lethal to butterflies. There are even several new cough syrups that taste like bubble gum, grape soda, and broiled grouper.
Now that I have a "persistent cough" which theoretically will be cured by cough syrup, I find that only childrens’ cough syrups come in nice flavors. This is one of the FDA’s cruel tricks: they withheld all the good tasting medicines until I became old enough to not take them anymore. Actually they instituted rigorous new standards which state that cough medicine can’t contain anything remotely effective for stopping coughs. This was mainly done for the benefit of the cough syrup industry, which can now charge astronomical prices for tiny bottles of grape soda and liquefied bubble gum for children with gullible parents, and tiny bottles of recycled transmission fluid to even more gullible adults.
Enjoy this week’s offerings.
[I know Valentine’s Day has passed, but it’s probably just as well. I can’t think of anything less romantic than cough syrup. Anyway, here are some perennial thoughts on the subject of love.–CW]
A group of professional people posed this question to a group of four-through eight-year-olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:
Love is that first feeling you feel before all the bad stuff gets in the way.
When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.
When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.
Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your french fries without making them give you any of theirs.
Love is when someone hurts you. And you get so mad but you don’t yell at them because you know it would hurt their feelings.
Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.
Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.
Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My mommy and daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.
Love is what’s in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen.
If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate.
Love is hugging. Love is kissing. Love is saying no
When you tell someone something bad about yourself and you’re scared they won’t love you anymore. But then you get surprised because not only do they still love you, they love you even more
Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.
Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.
During my piano recital, I was on a stage and scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He was the only one doing that. I wasn’t scared anymore.
My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don’t see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.
Love is when mommy gives daddy the best piece of chicken.
Love is when mommy sees daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.
Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.
I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.
I let my big sister pick on me because my Mom says she only picks on me because she loves me. So I pick on my baby sister because I love her.
Love cards like Valentine’s cards say stuff on them that we’d like to say ourselves, but we wouldn’t be caught dead saying.
When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.
You really shouldn’t say I love you unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.