Sick – or – What Happens When A Columnist Ignores her Editor’s Offer of a Week Off

There’s no avoiding it. Every now and then you have to stop pretending that you’re not completely disgusting. You get ill; you have to be sick. You have to give in to the oesophageal constrictions of doom, walk unnaturally quickly like you’re in a silent movie, slam a door, do your business, then whimper gratefully that you made it to the appropriate room. Curl on the floor like a baby with the intolerable addition of the sense of indignity in it all.

Last week I wrote about how wonderful humans are for sharing stuff. The wonder of the internet linking us all up, joining us together. All that nice ‘aren’t people great’ sort of stuff.

Last week’s me knew nothing. Last week’s me was a putz. Sharing. Sharing is what idiots do. Sharing is the act of the profane. The warped outflingings of the weak.

What on earth do we think we’re doing, kissing and shaking hands and sneezing in the same room as each other. That’s how all the gross stuff happens – wafting around in groups, being all kinds of disgusting together, rubbing up against each other, carelessly spewing germs onto each other, fraternising our cells in the incessant dirty recycling of spores. Sharing.

Humans are disgusting. Life is disgusting.

I think I got this bug from my seven year old nephew, who is almost never disgusting so I forgive him, but I can’t be sure. Apparently the whole town has got it anyway, though I don’t see the whole town holding its hair out of the bowl in a ponytail of gloom. My bathroom’s too small to accommodate them all I suppose, and people feel compelled to use their own. I cast my mind back to that man in the shop who thrust some dirty change in a dirty manner at me. It must have been him, the swine. My nephew’s too pretty to make me sick. He’s got freckles of angel dust and hair made out of bits that fell off the sun and shit.

Thank god germs are invisible. We’d all be running around hollering and waving our arms in the air like loonies caught in a twister of bees if we could see the things that might fell us to our beds at any time. Not that bed’s the right place for this one. Not if you’ve got good sheets.

I knew I was going to be struck down because I couldn’t do tea this morning. That’s how you know you’re sick – if you can’t do the most normal things like drink your goddamn tea, you’ve got nothing.

And then – this. The Great Purge of 2014 as it shall be known henceforth in my historical scrolls.

There’s a moment of revelatory candour after you’ve been sick. The knowledge you have sunk to a nadir of nastiness but that it’s only upwards from there; a kind of rebirth, rejuvenation, and the strange liberation that comes from knowing you’re no better than a hippo sluicing itself in it’s own juices. Not really. There’s a certain relief to be found in that. We’re all as disgusting as each other because our bodies are all the same, give or take a few bits, and most of us haven’t got a clue what’s going on in those slurpy sacks of mess and wonder and woe. Our own internal mysteries. Because let’s be honest – sometimes when your gut rumbles, you can never be entirely sure that a little critter hasn’t crawled in and taken up in the warm nook between kidney and spleen, can you? Anything could be going on in there. We’ve got holes everywhere. Stuff can get in. Remember Inner Space? Not just a classic 80s kid’s movie about a little dude poking around a much bigger dude’s guts – but an existential study of the utter chaos of being a human lumbered with a vessel doomed to an inglorious yucky confusing inconvenient stupid death. They didn’t put that in the blurb. It was just sub-plot. It’s the sub-plot to everything. There was no sequel to that film, you know. Or The Goonies. Or Labyrinth. Or Space Camp. Or Flight of the Navigator. Or Batteries Not Included. Cocoon got a second bash though, didn’t it. And The Never-ending Story I think, but I think they felt a bit obliged because of the title.

Anyway. What?

Oh yes. Ugh.

I’m dreaming of the last lull. The little spot of dazed sitting you do after the last purge before you suddenly get up right as rain and eat a multi-pack of Hula Hoops just to remind yourself you’re alive.

I’m just going to watch The Goonies one last time. And then die.




  1. napperscompanion · February 11, 2014

    Damned fine writing here, Sadie. Sharp and fresh! Thanks for the boost. Peace, John

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