December 3, 2001
Romancing The Bug

I've been enjoying a mild flirtation with a cold bug for the past couple of weeks. (And yes, "enjoying" is exactly the word to describe our relationship ... primarily because, until now, *I* have had the upper hand -- managing to keep the cold bug at arms' length, through echinacea, citrus and sheer force of will -- and I always enjoy being in the power position in my relationships.) But as of this morning, the flirtation appears to have turned into a deeper committment.

Worse, the balance of power has apparently shifted overnight.

Suddenly the cold bug is the one in control, and *I* am the one wandering around with pillow hair and hollow eyes, all rumpled and vulnerable, plaintively asking "Are you going to spend the night?" while the cold bug looks at his watch, shrugging indifferently, and says "I don't know. I haven't decided yet."

All of this by way of saying that I called in sick this morning.

I didn't want to. I am less than two months into the new job: I haven't accrued enough paid sick leave to cover an afternoon dentist appointment, let alone an entire day away from the office. Even more importantly, I don't feel that I have racked up enough valuable *Reliability Points* with my new employer yet. I actually made a private Deal With Myself when I started working at The Dirt Company: No calling in sick for at least the first three months, for any reason short of winning the lottery, and then we'll manufacture a nice nonspecific case of 'stomach flu' in January and take a couple of days off. This was going to be the job where I showed up promptly and without fail, each and every day, with a song on my face and a smile in my heart ...

... and The Deal was working out pretty well, so far: I hadn't missed a day yet ...

... until I woke up this morning at 2 a.m. (and then again at 2:20 a.m., and then again at 3:17 a.m., and then again at 5:01 a.m. -- you get the idea) and I couldn't breathe, I couldn't sleep, everything hurt, even my kneecaps and my earlobes and my eyelids, and I quite urgently needed to get up and go to the bathroom but none of the necessary motor functions seemed to be operational -- sitting up, putting one foot in front of the other, walking the four feet to the bathroom -- but finally, after I'd managed to crawl into the bathroom and back, dragging myself by the chin and elbows (have you ever tried peeing horizontally? it's NOT as much fun as it sounds), I said "Fudk The Deal. I'm calling in sick."

So I have forfeited the power role in this particular relationship. The cold bug wins.

But that's OK. I'm going to allow the cold bug to dominate me today. I'm going to allow it keep me in bed all day long, if it wants to. (Or if it decides it wants me to get up and wait on it, hand and foot -- at least, during the 22.4 minutes before the Alka Seltzer Plus kicks in again -- it can watch me walk around the apartment in my fetching red nightgown and wool socks.) It can join me in the bathtub. It can watch me gargle. If the cold bug gets hungry, later in the day, I'll heat up a can of Wolfgang Puck and open a new box of saltines. If it gets bored, I'll feed it some Judge Judy or Sally Jesse Raphael, or read it another yawn-worthy chapter of "False Memories," or take it surfing on the Internet for a few minutes, searching for pillowcases and barbells. (Maybe I can introduce it to the BadTrans virus! Something tells me the two of them would totally hit it off.) If it demands a nap this afternoon, it can force me to curl up on the sofa, covered with Grandma's afghan, where we'll drift off together to the sound of rain outside the apartment window. I will cater to its every whim and fancy today -- and tomorrow, if it comes down to that -- and I will do it mostly without complaint or hesitation. That's because I know when I'm licked.

(And because sometimes the best way to get what YOU want out of a relationship is to allow the other person to think it was *their* idea.)

tell 'em secra sent you

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hi honey! stop and get a loaf of bread on your way home tonight, ok?