S’wine Flu

Some of you may know this about me already: I have a fondness for drinking wine.  There, I said it.  But did you know that engaging in this risky behavior can lead to contracting the dreaded S’wine flu, that wine-borne illness that you are hearing so much about in the news lately?  It’s true.  Someday I’ll tell the 4.2 of you reading this more about this risk-taking aspect of my personality, but for now, let me just say that like any addictive, inebriating substance, wine and all other forms of alcohol should be sipped, imbibed, guzzled, ingested, or otherwise enjoyed with caution and a modicum of restraint.  In other words, don’t follow my lead.  Because it is excess like this that can lead to contracting the deadly S’wine flu.  I know, because I am a survivor. 

S’wine flu, it is generally agreed, is one of the many dangerous mutations falling under the umbrella of diseases known as Cocktail flu.  Other strains falling under this heading include the milder Beer flu–it is mainly college-aged pussies who have not yet graduated to more potent stuff who are contracting this all over the place; they have no built-up immunity yet.  Whiskey flu–while also dangerous, is not nearly as debilitating as a bad case of S’wine flu.  Although that one time I caught a particular strain of Jack Daniels flu, I thought I would die.  The symptoms are similar, but it is the intensity of S’wine flu’s symptoms–the severe disorientation, dehydration, nausea, vertigo, and perceived inablility to attend your daughter’s pre-graduation baccalaureate ceremony the next day–that should lead one to avoid contracting this at all costs. 

As with Cocktail flu, the main symptom is the all-encompassing, generic “hangover.”  Claiming to be suffering from a hangover is pretty vague, and you can’t use it as an excuse to call in sick from work.  It’s just not good form.  If you are looking for the best excuse to effectively call in sick when you’ve partied too hard but don’t want anyone to know it, you’ve got to go with diarrhea.  Seriously, diarrhea is best.  And don’t be coy about it.  No one will question your sincerity because really, who would give up this information willingly?  If you are too uncomfortable using this word, you can always blurt this out when your boss asks you what’s wrong: just say, “Soupy poopies, soupy poopies!”  By then your employer will have hung up on you, and you, my friend, have earned the day off. 

The last time I came down with S’wine flu, it was a particularly virulent case.  It was at my college reunion that I became infected, and I have never been sicker.  A combination of circumstances and poor choices on my part rendered me particularly vulnerable that evening. The first of which was a complete lack of common sense, stemming from this simple fact (in case you missed it):  I was at my college reunion. 

So, with all the fear and misinformation about S’wine flu out there, and in the spirit of calming the general populace, I offer to you, as a public service, some important information about how to avoid this deadly disease: 

Know what you are drinking 

I engaged in the following risky behaviors that led to my illness: I drank two vodka and tonics in quick succession, trying to calm my nerves in readiness for all the people I would not recognize that night.  The brand of vodka was unknown to me–this is an important point.  Later, I switched to red wine, which is my usual choice if I’m going to “go the distance.”  Problem was, I didn’t know what kind of wine it was.  I remember it was red.  I remember that vividly later.  Plus, it didn’t go down easily, which is always a reliable indicator of problems to come.  Lesson number 1:  To avoid S’wine flu, know what you are drinking and be reasonably sure it is of good quality.  I cannot stress this enough. 

Make sure you are not “over-served” 

As we get older, our poor boomer bodies can only tolerate so much abuse.  One way we abuse our bodies, besides exercising, is allowing ourselves to be “over-served,” especially with less-than-prime quality alcohol or wine.  If you are unfamiliar with this term, allow me to explain.  When the person pouring the drinks continues to serve them to you even after you cannot correctly pronounce what it is you want, then you have been over-served.  Can I say that?  Yes.  I think I can.  At that particular reunion, I can categorically state that I had been over-served. It was the wine pourer’s lack of restraint that led to my contracting S’wine flu and he should have been held fully accountable for the consequences and repercussions that ensued from his total lack of judgment.  If you ever attend a college reunion, make sure the bartender exercises some responsibility. 

Be judicious about your surroundings 

It is possible to pick up S’wine flu anywhere.  It can happen in a bar, a party, or in your own home, but it can especially happen at college reunions that take place the night before your daughter’s pre-graduation, church-staged, baccalaureate ceremony.  And that is where I found myself the next day, combating the ravages of this flu, trying not to succumb to its devastating power.  With my stomach heaving and churning, wine-sweat pouring out of me, and a severe case of vertigo that rendered me unable to focus on how stupid this ceremony was, I began to pray mightily to the Virgin Mary (I figured I would try her first, as the church was named St. Mary’s).  I prayed that if she would look down on me with pity and prevent me from hurling on the pew in front of me, if she would restore me to health right then and there, I would make her a solemn promise:  I would NEVER drink . . . anything less than top-shelf liquor again.  Let me tell you, it was touch and go there for a while.  My stomach was pitching and rolling like a Somali pirate ship.  But, before that service was over, I was healed.  Completely.  A true MIRACLE.   I was restored to complete gastric health and perfect equilibrium.  And I have never gone back on the promise I made in fervent prayer.  At the reception following the ceremony, I ordered only the best: a Stella Artois beer.  Yes I did. 

So, to recap:  S’wine flu is curable.  I am proof of that.  You will not die from it, although you think you might.  Just follow these sensible precautions:  1.) Enjoy only superior-quality wines and alcoholic beverages–you’re just asking for trouble if you don’t.  2.) Do not allow yourself to be over-served.  Insist that it is your bartender’s/   husband’s/date’s/friend’s/unknown creepy bystander’s responsibility to see to it that you don’t overindulge, thereby risking infection.  3.) And lastly, stay the fuck away from Mexico.  There’s a lot of bad shit going on down there.  Did you hear there’s some sort of pig-borne virus that’s dropping people like flies?  Yeah, stay away from that.

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Talk to the Pants

My recent decision–really more my pants’ decision–that I need to shed a pound or ten, has caused an unforeseen problem.  As some of you (henceforth known as the “lucky ones”) may recall from past e-mail conversations with me, I have referred to certain “demons” that have plagued me for some time.   But for those of you not fortunate enough to have heard it all before,  let me explain:  my demons are but a metaphor for those innumerable half-baked ideas for stories, essays, lists, fake testimonials for books I have not read, annoying e-mails, and any other unasked-for written material I may have sent you. 

The demons used to badger me incessantly to write these ideas down by banging with tiny…but surprisingly loud…hammers on tiny anvils from the inside of my skull.  What these anvils were doing inside my skull, I have no idea.  You’ll have to ask the demons.  Now I’ve come to find out that all this racket was probably due to my uncontrolled caffeine intake.  Perhaps my uncontrolled pinot grigio intake as well, although this is more painful to admit.  

Also, the demons–these ideas for stories–would always come at the most inopportune times:  while watching my favorite TV show, or while having a phone conversation with my mother, or during sex.  Since I’m sometimes engaged in all three activities simultaneously, you can imagine my mental anguish contending with their din while trying to hear my TV program.  Mostly they prevail during my shower, which I find to be absolutely necessary immediately after speaking with my mother. 

Here is the problem that my decision to go on a diet has caused:  Certain foods are now restricted and this has had some implications on my output and the imaginative quality of my writing.  The South Beach Diet sounded doable.  I bought the book and read up on it.  Lots of eggs.  Lots of cheese.  I’m thinking, this is great, I’m a big fan of eggs and cheese and I’ve got the cholesterol levels to back that up.  But I wouldn’t go so far as to call this diet a “piece of cake” because they’re pretty clear on that one. 

Proteins are encouraged, so that means reasonably-sized portions of beef, turkey, chicken, or fish. Good thing I’m unrepentantly carnivorous.  I’ve got no problem with the slaughter of innocent animals for my benefit, provided they are killed in a swift, merciful, and delicious manner.  

No sweets, cakes, or cookies…so far so good.  I don’t have much of a sweet tooth.  No chocolate, it says–sweet fancy Moses!–for some people that would be the deal-breaker right there.  It’s common knowledge that many people approach homicidal lunacy when deprived of this highly addictive, yet paradoxically tranquilizing, substance.  (I’m thinking mainly of menopausal women here; I seem to remember reading this in some book that rejected my story on menopause.  I think it was because I forgot to push chocolate as a  survival tip, and instead advocated Vicodin and/or wine to help with menopausal symptoms.)  But for me, chocolate–meh, not such a big deal.  I could do without. 

Wait a minute here, no bread?  This is getting tricky.  I’m a recovering breadoholic and I may go through withdrawal without my bread fix.  What?  No pasta either?  This could trigger seizures.  God, what do these South Bitches want from me–a pound of flesh?  Actually, several;  that is the general idea.  Well, OK, one must sacrifice for a desired result, mustn’t one?

I read on.  My eyes skip ahead and inadvertently see something they do not wish to see.  I’m wading through the part that explains that this diet can jump-start weight loss if you omit certain key items from your diet.  It explains that you must follow these rules to the letter during the initial two-week phase for it to work.  This is the message that my eyes are afraid to send to my brain:  No caffeine.  At all.  Decaf all the way.  And WHAT?  No alcohol of any kind!  No beer.  No wine.  No pinot grigio.  Well, that just tears it.  Sigh.  I’ll have to go on Weight Watchers–I hear they allow moderate amounts of alcohol on their program.  I’m just talking about the occasional glass or four of wine.  Per night.   I suppose this could lead to membership in another popular addiction recovery program for people with a different problem.  I wonder if Weight Watchers is a feeder for that other group I won’t name here.  (I’ll give you a hint: the addiction is not centered on food, their members prefer to remain anonymous, and their initials are A.A.—I may have said too much.)

So now the demons have left the building, and it’s very quiet here.  It’s a fine thing to find out at this late date that what you thought was a moderate talent for writing, is in reality a wildly-skewed chemical reaction in your brain caused by certain addictive substances that you chose to ingest.  My muses are named Caffeine and Alcohol and they are bitches.  Banning them from my life, even if only temporarily, exacts a cruel revenge in the form of writer’s block and lethargy. 

 But we do what we must.  My pants have spoken.

Stimulus Package

They say the difference between a writer and an author is simply this: everyone is a writer; an author is someone who actually gets published.  If this is the criteria, then I am squarely in the writer’s camp.  It seems too easy to go around calling yourself a writer just because you have a blog.   But that’s exactly what I’m doing.  You may be skeptical about my writerly credentials.  And well you should, because I’ll be truthful with you–no one has ever paid me for my writing.  But I would counter with this: no one has ever paid me NOT to write, either.  So I take that as a positive sign. 

If, say, a reader or readers of this blog were to come across with “incentives” for me not to write (you could call it a “bonus” or a “bailout”–whatever sounds right to you), for me to cease and desist writing this blog, I’ll get the message.  So you can, you know, if you want, send a check.  (I’ll provide an address if you express a sincere interest in this possibility.  Just contact me through the comments section and we’ll talk.)

If enough of you do this, I’ll consider it.  It would be like having my own personal economic stimulus package and who wouldn’t want that?  I’m not clear on what these packages are supposed to do, but if enough of you chipped in, I know it could stimulate me to stop writing this blog.

I can even think up a cool acronym–instead of TARP, this package could be called CARP or CRAP, or something like that.  Whatever.  I’ll let you know what the letters stand for just as soon as I come up with something.  I’m sure that’s how the government does it–acronym first; words they stand for, second.  In fact that is their approach to everything, come to think of it.  Bass-ackwards.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you when you all can stop contributing to this fund.  I can’t predict that, because we just don’t know where the bottom is yet.  (The bottom being: how bad this blog can get.)  I just don’t think we’re there yet.  Only time will tell.  Time and money.  Your money.

So just keep sending money.  I’ll let you know when it’s enough.  Just trust me on this.  Because this blog could very well be…TOO BIG TO FAIL.

My Exciting Life

I get a lot of e-mails, mostly from friends, along with the occasional male-enhancement offers, but my husband and I have discovered that sending an e-mail is sometimes the easiest way to ask a quick question or convey short bursts of information to each other. (Of course I’ve heard about Twitter! Do you think I’ve been living in a cave, or something?)  Here is a sample of some of the most exciting subject lines from my husband’s e-mails this week:

Subject: what time is dinner?

Subject: when do I pick Jimmy up?

Subject: termite inspection

Subject: dinner

Subject: Hi!

Subject: are you making dinner?

Subject: I’m on the plane now

Subject: going out to dinner

And my favorite of all this week:

Subject: do I have any clothes at the dry cleaners?

Who says romance is dead?

Getting to Know Me

Don’t think because I am a middle-aged-ish, married-ish, person who gave birth to three human children that this is going to be about childrearing, or recipes, or the hilarious topic of menopause.  (Some of my friends who have reached this milestone seem to have lost their senses of humor when it comes to this.)  Be warned: If you think that’s what this blog is going to be about, you’d best take your recipe-searching, childrearing-advice-wanting, menopause-remedy-seeking eyes elsewhere. NO RECIPES!  NO MOMMY-BLOG!  Get it?  As for menopause…menopause deserves a good ass-kicking, that’s what.

On second thought, today’s blog WILL BE about menopause. BECAUSE I AM GOING TO KICK MENOPAUSE’S ASS! Menopause is not such a big deal. Somebody just needs to teach it a lesson and make it cry and whimper for its mommy. YOU HEAR ME MENOPAUSE? I am coming for you! Let’s do this!

Why the change of heart, you ask?  She seems so hostile, you’re thinking, what’s wrong with her? Hormones, that’s what—they are running amok inside my body, invading my brain and making me think crazy thoughts like, how I would like to do a revival of that play, “Menopause: The Musical,” except I would call it, “Menopause: The Ass-Kicking.” And I would pay good money to see that.

Whenever I start to feel all crazy-ass over menopause, I just stop and think and try to convince myself that all these symptoms are purely psychological, just like the hysteria over the economy. It could be all in our heads. We are told that we are going to feel bad, so we do. All this negative energy is what is causing women to completely lose their shit over this overrated change of life situation. So just get it together, OK girls? Think positive. Also get out there and buy some stock and save the economy.  (Avoid AIG.)

I know I promised I would offer no remedies for ameliorating the symptoms of menopause, but since I have already broken my promise about not discussing this topic, I’d say we can let this one go, too. There are some homeopathic remedies out there. None of which I’d recommend. While some advocate the ingestion—one assumes—of potions brewed with some of the most evil-sounding components I’ve ever heard of—St. John’s wort and black cohosh (cohosh sounds bad enough; it has to be black, too?)—some of these tips were even pushing chocolate as the cure-all to any menopause-related ills. Ridiculous! Everyone knows five or six glasses of wine and a fistful of Vicodins are the answer to anything sad or painful. My recommendation on the type of wine you choose depends on what effect you wish to achieve with it. White wine—chiefly pinot grigio—is second only to Effexor in its mood-elevating abilities. Or you can choose red wine if you wish to let the sweet darkness envelop you (i.e., sleep).

I realize this post’s title is somewhat inaccurate. You did not learn much about me today, except how I feel about a certain phase of life all women go through. I’ll try to do better next time. Perhaps I should come up with some sort of mission statement for my blog. But aside from kicking menopause’s ass, I have been unable to come up with one.

I’m working on it, though.