Friday, September 21, 2007

COLUMN: Defrost

Congratulate me, Quad Cities. It's only taken 150 columns worth of effort, but I have finally had a moment of pure self-improvement. Yes, a fleeting glimpse at what my life would be like were I a pro-active human being and not the lump-o'-lard couch potato of reality. And it didn't take me pouring my heart out in a column, it didn't take one iota of soul-searching. It just took me getting sick.

There's nothing ickier than a summer cold, and I just got over a doozy of one. I was working on a draft of what would eventually become last week's column when -- achoo! -- the rapid-fire sneezing started and I knew I was doomed.

That reminds me -- do you know what my biggest pet peeve ever is? People who hold their sneezes in. There are girls who I work with who, when they sneeze, make dainty little noises like this: "Fft." "Fft." When I sneeze, I go like this: "WHAFLAAAARGHL!" If I tried to "fft" my sneezes, I'd most certainly rupture my eardrums and quite possibly pop my eyeballs right on out of my head. Doesn't it HURT to hold in a sneeze? Sneezing feels GOOD. It's your body's way of going, "BEGONE FOUL GERMS!" Don't be afraid to let the sneezes loose, folks, that's all I'm sayin'. We won't think less of you. But I digress.

So this nightmare of a cold arrives like an unwanted relative and sets up camp for a week. And then I screw up and do what I ALWAYS do: over-react and immediately call in sick to work. This is a habitually dumb move, because it always takes about 2 days for the worst bits of a cold to hit, and I invariably jump the gun. Still, I called in more of a courtesy to my co-workers than anything else. The last thing any of them wants is sniffly little me showing up to WHAFLAAAARGHL all over the department like a walking, talking biohazard.

Instead I stayed home. And turned on the TV to what can only be described as catastrophically bad viewing options. This is my least favorite part of being home sick: While a get-out-of-work-free card sounds positively wonderful, the reality is that my apartment can be FAR more boring than the workplace, and within an hour, I've developed cabin fever on top of my ACTUAL fever. So I sat around and stewed for awhile. All this did was turn my thoughts into a running monologue of "I hate being sick. I hate being sick." I couldn't take it any more. I needed to take my mind off feeling icky.

I stood up. I looked around. And then, out of sheer boredom and desperation, I started (gasp) cleaning.

First I re-alphabetized all my CD's (don't laugh, I'm such a music nerd that this is a FIVE HOUR process.) Then I alphabetized my DVD's. Then I figured it was time for an orange juice break, so I opened the fridge in search of some Vitamin C deliciousness.

"Hey," said Mr. Moldy Burrito, "Enough with the lights. Some of us are trying to decay in peace here!"

Well, maybe he didn't say that. But he sure did smell that. Being a single guy who lives (and will probably one day die) by the hand of fast food, refrigerator upkeep is NOT one of my strong suits. There's always some beverages in there, always a pizza box or two, and what's left is invariably an ugly collection of mustards, jellies, and forgotten leftovers, usually covered in the sort of mold that could likely either kill mankind or save mankind. I leave those answers to science.

It was at that moment I remembered buying ice cream the day before. I know that ice cream isn't on the recommended diet of the ill and infirm, but I had a craving. A little nibble wouldn't hurt anything, right? So I dug in and grabbed a spoonful to find the ice cream (a) mushy, and (b) tasting a tad bit like Mr. Moldy Burrito.

Enough was enough. There's a fine line between messy and, well, gross, and the fridge had crossed the line. Cold be damned, it was time for action. I stood there and cleaned out the whole thing. The ice cream was mushy because my freezer had collected so much ice that the door wouldn't even shut right, so after I cleaned, I defrosted.

Problem was, I didn't just have ice in my freezer. I had tremendous, global-warming-solution-sized icebergs. So imagine me standing there literally for HOURS: a pot of boiling water in one hand, a blow dryer in the other, Kleenex shoved up each nostril, Vicks smeared on my chest, doing my best to conquer both an ugly cold and an ugly, not-so-cold refrigerator at the same time.

But you know what? It really WAS a proud moment. Two weeks have passed, I feel much better (though I still managed to infect several co-workers off sick as I type this,) and my refrigerator looks and works a million times better. Maybe I WILL get the hang of this bachelor life one of these days. Let's just hope it doesn't take the flu to do it.

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