Also known as ‘frigidus vulgaris’

September 28, 2001

Hypochondriacs are people who only think they’re sick all the time, but what do you call someone who gets sick at the drop of a hat? Some people, including myself, seem to get a cold in late September and carry it around until early April. No amount of vitamin C, citrus juice, hot tea, garlic, chicken soup, or bloodletting with leeches to decrease an imbalance of green choler and other humors will cure this seasonal affliction. To all of you who suffer from this viral monstrosity, and for anyone who’s ever just had a plain old cold, the following poem is dedicated:

"An Ode To The Cold"

Infections are caused by organisms that precede us By several branches on the evolutionary tree, So one would think they neither want nor need us, Yet they insist on invading at each opportunity.

The Black Death decimated Europe by a third While all people could do was pray and cower. For the human race it seemed the end of the world, Though the bacillus bacteria called it their finest hour.

The plague was finally beaten by fire and cats Which helped to clear the infested expanse Of filthy housing, fleas, and their pet rats, But it would be centuries before the next advance.

Pasteur made a breakthrough with Leeuwenhoek’s device, Revealing a bestiary previously unknown. Scientists invested in petri dishes, agar, and mice, And the world’s bacteria let out an almost audible groan.

Just underneath, though, viruses rocked with laughter; They found the newfangled vaccines morbidly funny. While trillions of bacteria were dispatched to the hereafter Hepatitis and influenza gave Science a run for its money.

Above all, one slimy germ reigned supreme, One disease stood out from the poisonous fold. Scientists ran tests, took notes by the ream, But nothing could conquer the common cold.

It’s the Napoleon of diseases. As it spreads everywhere It’s as daunted by antibodies as a tank by a gazebo. It lives on porcelain, doorknobs, or drifts through the air, Unstoppable, unbeatable. Chicken soup? A mere placebo.

Vulgar as it is, nothing makes it balk. The cold sips 200 proof penicillin, spars with phagocytes for fun. Smallpox met its match in Koch, polio was defeated by Salk, But the cold has no Nelson, and may never be outdone.

We’re stocking syrups and vitamins in the Northerly latitudes Because winter is coming and the cold is close on its heel. Red-eyed, sneezing, we reach for our medical platitudes, And we see each other and think, "You look how I feel."

Enjoy this week’s offerings.


Friends, I have a condition often found in folks of my age. The scientific world is frantically searching for a cure. This is an ailment many of us suffer from and may not as yet have been diagnosed. However, now you may be able to discuss it with your loved ones and try to explain what really happened to you all those times you tried so hard to accomplish something and failed.

It’s called the "Butfirst Syndrome."

It’s like when I decide to do the laundry – I start down the hall and notice the newspaper on the table. Okay, I’m going to do the laundry –

Butfirst I’m going to read the newspaper. After that, I notice the mail on the table. Okay, I’ll just put the newspaper in the recycle stack, Butfirst I’ll look through that pile of mail and see if there are any bills to be paid.

Now where’s the checkbook? Oops! There’s the empty glass from yesterday on the coffee table. I’m going to look for that checkbook, Butfirst I need to put the glass in the sink.

I head for the kitchen, look out the window, notice my poor flowers need a drink of water. I put the glass in the sink, and darn it, there’s the remote for the TV on the kitchen counter. What’s it doing here? I’ll just put it away, Butfirst I need to water those plants.

Head for door and Ack! I stepped on the dog. The dog needs to be fed.

Okay, I’ll put that remote away and water the plants. Butfirst I need to feed the dog.

At the end of the day:

Laundry is not done, 
Newspapers are still on the floor, 
Glass is still in the sink, 
Bills are unpaid, 
Checkbook is still missing, 
The dog ate the remote control. 

AND, when I try to figure out how come nothing got done all day, I’m baffled, because I KNOW I was BUSY ALL DAY! I realize this condition is serious………and I should get help…… 
Butfirst I think I’ll read all my e-mail.

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