Susan Vollenweider - Fact can be improved by fiction

02/21/2013 10:05 AM

05/16/2014 9:14 PM

Germs have ears. Or sonar. Or some complex mechanism that leads them to victims.

My proof: Recently I proclaimed that no viral crud had hit our house. I might as well have licked a shopping cart handle and kissed every person I passed in the grocery store — the result would have been the same.

The day after I said that, my throat began to hurt.

Two days later my head was feeling swimmy and the body aches began. I went to church, came home and took a nap.

Two days after that, I woke up.

Well, maybe it was only several hours but at that point I accepted the fact that I was sick and that the germs had found me.

Brian suggested a trip to the doctor.

“There are sick people there,” I wheezed at him. “This is nothing a couple days of low activity won’t cure.”

A couple of days of low activity later…

I had no voice but all I wanted to do was whine about how miserable I felt. On Facebook I got some people to join my pity party, but they didn’t stay long. I thought about working, but real work proved futile.

So I wrote this.

No, I mean I wrote this to cheer up a friend who was concerned with the quality of men who were attracted to her and about one specific strange date. She wouldn’t reveal the details of it so I made them up.

I opened the door and there was Clark. I had expected odd — I did know the man and had been discouraging such an evening for months. But I hadn’t expected that level of extraordinarily odd.

He was dressed from head-to-toe in orange. Hat to shoes. He looked like an Oompa Loompa in a fun house mirror — their unusual shape would appear as a normal man. But that was Clark — even what appeared normal was not.

“Didn’t I tell you to wear orange?” he asked, looking shocked. “I thought I made it clear.”

“I’m sorry, Clark. I thought you were kidding with all the ‘Orange you going to wear yellow and red together?’ comments,” I answered, trying to be kind.

He awkwardly handed me a bouquet of orange carnations. I really hate carnations. I’m snobby but they are a cheap flower and get their color from dye. They are fake and cheap. I knew my smile was fake, too.

“Thank you, I’ll just get these in water and we can get going.”

I reluctantly let him into the foyer and hurried to the kitchen feverishly texting my friend Tammi: TEXT ME AN EMERGENCY IN AN HOUR DO NOT ASK QUESTIONS

When I came back into the living room Clark was sniffing my bookcase. Not the books, the wood — well, the composite wood. As I put the fake flowers on the fake wood I accepted not only that I was a hypocrite, but that I had to get through this date, if only for an hour.

Clark was looking rather squiffy as he took one more hit off the top shelf. “Do you have an orange sweater, maybe a shrug?”

As I continued the story, something strange happened: I didn’t feel like moping about how icky I felt. Imagining my friend reading this tale (which later headed to Lithuania and a surprise ending) made me feel better.

Maybe the virus was almost through me, but focusing on something other than my aches and woes and thinking about someone else ended my pity party.

It also made my friend smile.

Take that, germs.


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