February 1, 2001
Sick Isn't Pretty


I've been wearing the same leopard skin leggings for three days now.

They're not real leopard skin, of course: they're made out of some kind of stretchy, polyesterlike fabric, printed to look like leopard skin. Originally they were part of the world's ugliest pantsuit, with an equally hideous coffee-colored pullover to match. A co-worker gave me this outfit a few years back, when we were both working at the knife factory in Oregon. She felt sorry for me, I think, because I was obviously poor and hungry and alone in the world, and she was always cleaning out her closets and bringing in these giant Hefty bags filled with old clothes for me, saying "Whatever you can't use, dear, pass along to someone who can." Most of the clothing she gave me was even MORE hideous than the leopard skin pantsuit, if you can believe that (think: fringed poncho), but I always thanked her sincerely  --  she was a sweet older lady, and she reminded me a lot of my grandma, and I didn't want to hurt her feelings  --  and I lugged the Hefty bags home on the bus with me after work and dragged them upstairs to my little Tree House apartment and dumped the contents out on my living room floor, and anything that was even remotely wearable got tossed into the "Maybe" pile, on the bottom of my closet, while everything else went into the dumpster in the middle of the night, along with my empty wine bottles. Upon reflection I realize that I should have donated the unwearable stuff to charity, or at least left the piles of clothing in the community laundry room for the other tenants to pick through, but the truth is that I didn't want any of my neighbors to catch me in the act of dumping my unuseables in the laundry room, or to incorrectly assume that *I* had ever spent good hard-earned money on a PONCHO, forcryingoutloud.

But I digress.

The coffee-colored pullover has long since gone on to that Great Dirty Clothes Hamper in the Sky, but the faux leopard skin leggings remain a staple of my wardrobe. They are my *sick pants* ... the one item of clothing I automatically turn to, whenever I'm feeling under the weather.

At least I've managed to change my shirt a couple of times this week. On Monday and Tuesday I lived in an oversized, raspberry-colored sweater, a Christmas gift from my former mother-in-law six or seven Christmases ago. I brought this sweater with me when I moved to California in '98, but this is the first time I've actually worn it since I got here. It looked awful with leopard skin, of course, but I was buried under a mountain of blankets for most of those two days so whut the fudk did it matter? (It's not like we've got the webcam hooked up yet.) Then yesterday I was seized by the utterly insane impulse to color my hair. I figured, I'm home, I have a new box of L'Oreal Excellence Creme #6C, I need a shower anyway ... so why not go for it?  This meant changing out of the raspberry sweater and into my House of Blues T-shirt  --  the infamous "To Dye-For" shirt, a long-ago gift from my pal Bottlenekk  --  again, not a good look with faux leopard skin, but at that point I was way past caring about my *ensemble.*  What I hadn't taken into account, of course, is that in order to color my hair I would have to 1.) get wet all over, and 2.) endure the lingering chemical smell of hair dye for the rest of the day. Neither of which are much fun when one is battling influenza. By the time I was done I felt worse than I had when I started ... plus the House of Blues T-shirt was a soggy, Hydrolized-Vegetable-Protein-stained mess. So I changed into David's Avengers T-shirt, and that's been my *look* for the past 24 hours or so.

It goes without saying, of course, that uncomfortable undergarments and Maybelline have been temporarily shelved this week. The only remotely ornamental item I'm wearing at the moment is my engagement ring. But then again, I'd be wearing my engagement ring if I were standing in the lab smearing pig feces onto glass slides, looking for new forms of porcine intestinal bacteria. The ring only comes off for occasional resizing -- and to make way for the wedding band, next July.

Being sick this week has not been big buckets of fun ... and fashion has been the least of my concerns. One doesn't "dress" to lay on the sofa watching Judge Judy, OK?  I'm battling a particularly nasty strain of flu that has layed me out flatter than a Home Ec soufflé: for the first couple of days all I did was sleep and drink water and go the bathroom and sleep some more. More or less in that order. Today I'm actually moving around and doing stuff, for the first time all week ... but in very subdued, careful fashion. No rapid movements. No loud noises. No caffeine. It's a semi-sunny day, here in the East Bay, but I've got all of the curtains closed. I'm easing back into the world, one molecule at a time ... but it's slow-going. I imagine it's going to take me most of the next couple of days, plus the weekend, to get back to normal.

(Jim was great on the phone this morning. "If you try to come back to work before Monday, we're going to call security and have you hauled away," he said.)

For the moment, I think I'm going to go try the taking-a-shower thing again. I'm going to crank up the water as hot as I can stand it, for as long as I can stand it ... and I'm going to shampoo my hair twice, maybe three times, until all of the snot and cough medicine and residual L'Oreal Excellence Creme #6C is gone ... and I'm going to use some of the vanilla shower goop that Jaymi gave me for Christmas and slough off four days' worth of Vicks Vapo Rub ... and I'm going to slather my face with extra helpings of that stuff that smells like toothpaste. Then I'm just going to stand under the water for a few minutes, parked directly under the flow, and let the heat and the water pressure do their magic on my sinuses and my stiff achey muscles. And when I'm all done, I'm going to emerge from my shower, feeling clean and refreshed and partially restored to life ...

... and I'm gonna slip right back into the cruddy leopard skin leggings.

one year ago: dodging another one
two years ago: battle fatigue

throw a rock