Easy pickings

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  • Focal Length: 200mm
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Fresh Bing cherries are served on a burgundy plate. Cherries are not only a low-fat snack, but they are also high in antioxidants. (Photo by Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright) (Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright)

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Northport, Alabama

Yes, I know. More cherries.

Blame it on the pharmaceutical companies, who have yet to make a product that actually makes me feel better when I am sick. These guys have either never been sick themselves or have a really vicious sadistic streak. At the grocery store today, I was stunned to see how many drugs are available to abate the misery of the coughing, sniffling, “I’m going to throw up now” common cold-sinus infection-upper respiratory-type thing.

Five hundred versions of the same generic placebo. The boxes promise wonderful things, but when you turn them over, you discover that they all pretty much have the same unpronounceable ingredients — provided you can read them at all through your watering eyes.

To add insult to injury, the major “benefit” of most of these ingredients seems to be that they won’t make you drowsy. Excuse me, but I prefer my drugs to render me unconscious, thank you very much. My head feels like an elephant is doing a tap dance on my skull, my throat feels hotter and dryer than the Sahara, and my nose alternates between running like an Artesian well and feeling like someone jammed a dirty sock in it. Sleeping until next year seems like a very attractive option, at least until I feel normal again.

But I’m not normal. I don’t feel normal at all. In fact, I feel very abnormal. When standing and walking at the same time seem too much like multi-tasking, the last thing I want to do is spend 30 minutes trying to decipher the nearly microscopic print on an endless row of boxes. So I did what I always do in these types of situations. I closed my eyes and picked one. Really. This is a very modern, scientifically advanced tactic. I know this because I once paid a prominent international psychologist $150 to impart this groundbreaking wisdom to me.

Ten minutes into a gut-wrenching rendition of “My Life is Awful, I Want to Die,” he held up his hand impatiently and said, “Enough. Enough. I can solve all of your problems right now.”

“You can?” I asked incredulously.

“But of course,” he said. “Americans are unhappy because they have too many choices. Remove the choice; remove the stress. There is no future in photography. I see a photo in the paper, why do I care? I don’t. You will be a writer. No more choice; no more stress. Would you like some Ativan before you go?”

I didn’t take his advice that day, but now seemed like as good a time as any to try it out. Blindly snatching a box from the shelf, I stumbled to the cash register and handed a wad of crumpled bills to the clerk, muttering something to the effect of “Whatever it costs. Give me. Now. Bed. Sleep. Soon.”

I was looking forward to nothing more than a nice long dive into oblivion, comfortably ensconced in flannel and surrounded by cats, but the pharmaceutical gods were not through tormenting me.

When I got home, I discovered that the easy-tear box was made of double-reinforced cardboard that had to be gnawed open. Then, once inside the box, there was another surprise waiting — a bottle swathed in triple-reinforced plastic that is probably used in the space industry for something. My life-improving, sanity-saving elixir was causing me stress. Thanks a lot, Dr. Bob.

I tried and tried to chew the plastic off, but after almost breaking a tooth, I decided that something more powerful was needed. In desperation, I settled upon a butcher knife and sat down on the kitchen floor to perform the necessary machination, narrowly escaping the severing of a few fingers before finally managing to wrangle the confounded thing open.

Exhausted by the effort, I savored the moment, reveling in the promise the tiny blue pills offered. There was only one problem —they required water, in a glass, which I tend to store in the upper cabinets more often than on the floor. For a brief, embarrassingly delirious moment, I was tempted by the cats’ water bowl, freshly filled with bottled spring water and just inches from my hand. It looked clean and cool.

“Oh, get a grip,” I muttered, dragging myself up to the counter and filling a glass with tap water.

Slumping back to the floor, glass in one hand, pills in the other, I was ready for the relief that the box had spelled out in 45-point Helvetica. One pill. Two pills. Three pills. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine them whisking me away to a land of warm sunshine and tropical breezes, aquamarine waters lapping at my toes. My reverie was broken by the most awful bitterness flooding over my tongue and permeating my senses. After days of not tasting anything, my mouth was thrown into a cataclysm of shock. No amount of water could wash the vile substance away.

In utter defeat, with the threat of nausea rollicking through my intestines, I gave in and laid my head on the cool tiles of the kitchen floor. And as the long-awaited sleep finally began to take over, I couldn’t help but feel a little better. There were no island breezes or aquamarine waters and there wasn’t an inch of flannel to be found, but a cat did come and lick my toe on his way to the water dish.

What more could a sick person want?

Music: Save Me by Unwritten Law (lyrics)

Favorite Pic: “071805” by Bob at Quiet Glow and “Where the Boats Sleep” by Brian at Panhandlin’.


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Fresh Bing cherries are served on a burgundy plate. Cherries are not only a low-fat snack, but they are also high in antioxidants. (Photo by Carmen K. Sisson/Cloudybright)

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