This week’s listmaker: Sarah Murrell. Sarah’s a Broad Ripple photographer, makeup artist, and other things that make her parents wish she would get a haircut and a real job. She will try anything twice and never backs down from a double-dog dare.
I write this Punchlist from my bed, and I suppose dedicated to my bed, which has been performing its role as “Influenza A Sick Bay” beautifully for the last 24 hours. Don’t worry! My doctor predicts you’ll probably get it. Take that not as a boost to your morale, but an impetus to action, like when you’re supposed to finally book that skydiving adventure after someone tells you “We’re all gonna die, man!” You could mope and whine your way through the course of the virus, or you could let this Punchlist take you on a fever-dreamed journey, beyond your immune system’s incompetence and into a sub-societal neverland of privileges bestowed only upon the very, very flu-ridden.
1. You can fall asleep anywhere, at any time (literally!). Yesterday I went to work feeling shittier than I usually do on a Sunday morning at 9 am, so I pounded one of those little energy shooters that give their commercial actors super powers. After two hours of pre-retail store cleaning, I felt no better and in fact much, much worse. My boss offered to buy me coffee, so I opted for the triple espresso and I drank it all less than 20 seconds after it hit the counter. Then I took some green coffee beans because, to add to my problems, I’m also a little fat. Thirty minutes later, I should have been leaping the five-foot shelves with a few feet of clearance to spare. Instead, I crouched shivering and sweating in the corner, sure I had crushed marbles in all of my bones and joints. Thirty minutes after that, with something like 400 milligrams of white-hot rocket fuel in my bloodstream, I was snoring in the bathtub while my roommate’s blues band rehearsed in the basement. The best part is that people will just leave you there until you wake up–whether it is in 30 minutes or 6 hours!
Contract this walloping flu and at least you get to catch up on your sleep–regardless of location or noise level, or third-party punching or assaulting you, or dogs licking any skin not wrapped in a blanket. Enjoy it.
2. Buy all the empty-calorie foods you want! Last night, I piled my local Walgreens checkout counter with all the essentials: NyQuil; artificially flavored, sugar-laden drinks; ice cream; and a bar of chocolate. I looked at the items with love, then hope, then disgust. I felt like I had to give a reason why I was only going to live on corn sugar and animal fat for the next two days. “This is…kind of gross,” I said. “I have the flu.”
Patrick, the wise and all-knowing Walgreens employee, looked at me very seriously and said, “Hey. The only thing you have to do when you’re sick is feel better.”
They should make that guy Employee of the Month, because while I feel like absolute garbage, you bet I smile every time I take a sip of this “fruit punch” that tastes nothing like any actual living fruit. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve probably been suckling at the poisonous processed teat so long, switching to something that’s more fruit than corn and water and dye at this stage would probably make your heart stop. No, we have made our bed of lumpy, shrink-wrapped products, and now we must lower our bodies into the sludge and give over completely. That which you consume must consume you, and only then can you be released from the grip of the evil Influenza spell.
So go get those Reese’s Puffs.
3. Your clothing choices are much more open! When you go to the supermarket or pharmacy with the flu, don’t bother changing your clothes. Just find a nice-size pin with some rhinestones and make a sort of fleece toga out of the blanket you’re swaddled in. Keep it up off of the ground (we’re not animals here, folks), put on some decent shoes, and wear an interesting hat over your rat’s nest hair. Your ensemble has two functionalities; first, it’s warm and comfortable and protects you from the elements. Second, you look like either the saddest, sickest person in the Target, or the absolute craziest. Either way, people give you a wide berth, and it’s unlikely anyone you might know would recognize you (or even look at you long enough to make sure). So long as you’re blanketed with your fancy pin, people will be extraordinarily nice to you whenever they cannot avoid interacting with you. This is one time where you should definitely not choose the self-checkout; I used this method to unintentionally get a free passion fruit from the store, simply because my DayQuil-addled perma-smile and toga with flower pin made the person ringing me up so uncomfortable that he dropped it in my bag and mumbled, “On the house.”
4. No one will hit on you, under any circumstance. If you’re like me, you probably spend a significant portion of your week preparing to look polished, attractive, and approachable for most events and locations, only to have your particular flava hit all the wrong palates in places no one should flirt, under any circumstances, ever. Your bloated, dark-circled, crouched-over-over-and-grouchy vibe is abhorrent to most people, and puts you in the same sexual category as combative old women and single people with four-plus cats. There is never any question about the number of people who might want to take you out for dinner, much less fuck you. When you have the flu, the answer is always zero. This gives you the right to neglect your personal hygiene if it is not essential to your sense of well-being, because the flu is the physiological zenith of “Screw it.” Just like moving is your excuse to throw away absolutely anything you won’t carry up more than a flight of stairs for any reason, the flu is your excuse to examine and really strip down the “essential duties” of personal care for going out in public. In fact, when the flu hits, you are no longer a person: you are a flu sufferer. Be as unbathed and unshaven as want to be.
5. You get to indulge in all the little things that make your life better. I have a mattress heater on my bed because I got kind of sick this one time in college. The thing is, this mattress heater is sometimes the only thing I get out of bed for in the winter–so that I can later return to my mattress heater no more than 16 hours later for the duration of whatever Not-Daylight Savings Time is called. Sometimes I’ll just dip in for a 10 minute bump of the mattress heater in the middle of my day, and just lose my mind in the all-encompassing warmth, perfect and whole, like a group hug from God and Aphrodite and Oprah. Then my alarm goes off, and I go back into the frozen Indy world recharged and reheated. This mattress heater is my soul’s microwave.
The point is, this is one of many wonderful accouterments I have in my life because I was once sick, so don’t miss the opportunity! Here are other awesome creature comforts I have from sicknesses past: a neti pot that now prevents me from getting sinus infections, and a few giant micro-fleece blankets. You bet your ass I have a Snuggie, and today I will buy my first Forever Lazy. Why? Because I have the flu, and sometimes you have to just trap your sickness and your troubles in pair of adult-size footie pajamas and sleep them off. So go get those extra-large sweatpants, and do it without apology! Take a viral load off, Annie, and put the load right in your Pajama Jeans! Then burn them.
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