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Charlie Hatton
Brookline, MA

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Howdy, friendly reading person!
I'm on a bit of a hiatus right now, but only to work on other projects -- one incredibly exciting example being the newly-released kids' science book series Things That Make You Go Yuck!
If you're a science and/or silliness fan, give it a gander! See you soon!

Through Sick and Thin

Apparently, I don’t get sick very often. I suppose that’s a good thing.

Except when I’m sick. Like now.

To be fair, I wouldn’t say I’m properly sick. I’ve got a cold, yes. I stayed home from work today. I’m coughing and sneezing and achy. I may have a fever. My post-nasals are dripping.

“I’m coughing and sneezing and achy. I may have a fever. My post-nasals are dripping.”

But as a kid, I used to get bronchitis. Like, almost every winter. That’s three weeks of phlegmy hacking, sometimes just in time for Christmas.

So being sick sucks. But it doesn’t suck quite as much as it once did, and it evidently doesn’t suck nearly as often.

I found this out around noontime, when I dragged my sniffly butt off the couch and into the kitchen for lunch. In our household — as in many others, I suspect — there are certain foods that we eat when we’re under the weather. Hearty foods. Comforting foods. Cliche “get well” foods. We seek them out when we’re sick — and at all other times, forget that they even exist.

Here’s an example: I emailed my boss this morning to report that I and my spittle-soaked germs would be absent from the office today, the better to prevent a company-wide typhoid outbreak by the weekend. The reply I got back was short, sweet and accomodating:

No problem. Get some rest. Eat soup.

Cliche it may be, but soup is good food (when you’re sick). Plus, it’s a direct order from my boss, and I don’t want to get dinged at personnel review time for not following dietary directives. So for lunch, I went searching for soup.

It was then I discovered that I’m not sick very often. How did I know?

Because I knew we had soup. We always have soup — we eat it when we’re sick. And when we’re not sick, we never eat soup.

I don’t know why that is. We sometimes eat soup at restaurants. But never at home. Maybe eating soup — from a can, in a plastic bowl, possibly under a shawl — reminds us of when we were sick. Or we have better things to eat. Something.

All I know is, I found the soup — the one solitary can, hiding in the back of the pantry behind the refried beans and a bag of bowtie pasta. Before I hit it with the can opener, I decided I should probably check the date.

My soup informed me it was “best by” March of 2010.

There was no further information on what it was “_____ by” in October of 2013. I suspect the answer may be “rancid”.

So much for eating soup to feel better. The “soup is good food” slogan doesn’t apply here, so much as “soup was once possibly good food, sometime in the prior decade”.

And so it went with my other “sick foods”. The half-bottle of 7-Up in the back of the fridge wasn’t so much “flat” as it was “reduced”, like a lemon-lime gravy. I found saltines. They had no expiration date, per se, but I’m pretty sure crackers aren’t supposed to have the consistency of Play-Doh. Or the smell. Or some of the colors.

All of this suggests to me that the missus and I are generally healthy people. So healthy, in fact, that our “comfort foods” stick around so long, they’re not really comforting any more. Or appetizing. Or food, really.

I’ll take comfort in this, as soon as this cold lifts. Maybe I’ll even buy fresh sick supplies, for the next time one of us catches a bug.

And hopefully, we won’t be doing this same thing again in 2018, when I’m sniffling at home complaining about that can of ruined-ass soup, which went funky and old in 2015. Only time — and a bunch of nasty germs — will tell.

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