Vision Quest

I reckon being ill is one of the great pleasures of life, provided one is not too ill and is not obliged to work till one is better.

-Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh

I'm writing this week's column with a fever of 102, so if it strays too far from the path (moreso than usual), please, cut me some slack.

Not there ever really is a path in this space.

Or a point.



Was I saying something?

At first, I went with my usual defense against any form of illness, which was: denial.

We were having a very busy week at work (throwing an engagement breakfast for Ouisie), and I needed to be focused. Organized.

It was somewhere around the time that I ended up crawling across the hood of a coworker's car, chasing a plastic cup so I could find a place to ash my cigarette (and approximating the Tawny Kitaen Whitesnake video according to the staff) that everybody decided I needed to pack it in and call it a day.

It's not that I didn't trust them to run the place without me (though I did keep having this disturbing vision of all of them lined up on our sidewalk, in lawn chairs, topless, with foil tanning shields under their chins, tossing back bourbon and smoking cigarettes), because in fact, I would trust them to do anything, up to and including launching the space shuttle (not that we get a lot of call for that around here, but if it comes up, they're ready).

It's just that I had work to do: taxes, first-quarter financials... gambling away all our money on the ponies at Keeneland... the usual April schedule.

I also don't like to set a bad example, because they know how I feel about "sick days." (Which is that they are for THE WEAK.) They know this, because I sent out an office-wide email, listing all the acceptable reasons for missing work. They include, "death (your own); and severe injury requiring hospitalization (limited to gaping gunshot wounds). Please notify us of the hospital you've selected, so that we may send flowers and make arrangements for visitation (after the paper goes to press)."

Anything short of that, and my likely comment is, "Suck it up. Be a man!!"

And the response I expect is, "Ma'am, YES MA'AM!!" Or, "YES, MASTER CHIEF!!!"

(Relax. They know I'm kidding. But if you happen to drive by and see my head on a pike out front, I guess maybe we can assume they don't.)

It is to their credit that, 1. they have not (yet) staged a bloody coup, and 2. that they've really been taking GREAT care of me in my hour(s) of need (plying me with homemade chicken noodle soup, Tylenol, and - judging from the ensuing hallucinations - something that I can only assume [now] was peyote, though I've heard that a really high fever can approximate the symptoms of illicit drugs. Either way: not funny. Ouisie also insists I called in several times, "speaking in tongues," but I have no memory of that).

I figure they were looking out for me either because they are every bit as loyal and devoted as I'm always telling everyone, OR, because they're just biding their time - waiting for that moment when they get to film that wacky Christina Applegate remake, Don't Tell the Bank the Publisher is Dead!

I also just hate being home sick, for the same reason I hated it when I was eight years old, when I would whine, "there's nothing to doooooooo." At least now, I get to watch 432 channels (378 of which are infomercials), whereas the rule in our house growing up was, "if you're too sick to go to school missy, I guess you're too sick to watch television." I never understood the correlation, or the logic of that, but my Mom wasn't budging on it. Which is why I spent my very RARE sick days huddled under the covers, engrossed in the far more intellectual endeavor of reading Jackie Susann novels (which I highly recommend for any eight-year-old).

Anyway. I agreed it was time for a day off when I sneezed, and the resulting spatters looked like something Jackson Pollock would've come up with, IF he'd painted in BLOOD. I thought of that, only because I saw Pollock this weekend, and it's pretty good. Better than Bridget Jones's Diary, which I had to review, and should be on page... hell, I don't know. Look it up. That's why we have a damn Table of Contents.

OK, whatever, where was I?

Oh yeah. Once I got around to admitting I was sick, I went for it full throttle. In the span of about three hours, I diagnosed myself with everything from strep, to mono, to meningitis (when my neck started to ache and I couldn't move my head). I finally had to have our tech guys come over and install a block on sites like I also had to turn off the E.R. reruns and switch over to Rockford Files, because anything George Clooney uttered, I became convinced I had (that's how I came up with the meningitis, and later in the day, non-Hodgkins lymphoma).

I think I reached my nadir around the time I staggered into the back yard to give the dogs some water, and when I reached for the garden hose, it was a SNAKE. (And I did NOT hallucinate that either, though hardly anyone believes me.) At least one guy in our crew humored me by suggesting it's really the fault of the garden hose manufacturers, for making a product that LOOKS so much like a snake, and he proposed they should be bright yellow... and maybe covered in fur (just to accommodate idiots like me).

It's not really their fault for questioning my veracity, because all day, I'd been sending them delusional little emails (brought on by the fever... I guess), like "hey, did you guys know HBO televises executions during the day!! oh, wait... did I just dream that?"

I expect I'll be better by tomorrow, because I have parties to get to. And if I haven't, I only pray to God that Kate Spade has come up with a stylish I.V. bag by now.

I think God will listen, because now that I'm speaking in tongues and taking up serpents, I'm pretty sure I'm a Pentecostal in good standing.