To Catch A Cold

To Catch A Cold – Brief Article

Maynard Good Stoddard

Any number of tricks come to mind for getting a few days off from the rat race. You likely know about calling in sick when you never felt better. But if that bothers your conscience, did you know there is a simple solution for keeping you honest?

Take it from one who has “been there and done that”: There is no more legitimate way of escaping the rigors of work than by coming down with a good old dependable seven-day cold. If you can stretch it to eight or nine days, so much the better.

According to statistics, every American is entitled to three colds per season. The only problem is the timing. Your average cold is no respecter of dates or situations. Christmas, first date, vacation, honeymoon–you name it, a cold couldn’t care less. Colds delight in laying us low at the most inconvenient moments. And, until now, we have accepted this as we have accepted dandruff and underarm odor.

The common cold, however, according to my exhaustive study, can be pretty well regulated. Please follow closely.

We have been provided two surefire methods for catching a cold: the “aerosol” and the “hand transfer.”

The aerosol refers to particles containing cold germs that are released when an infected party uncorks a cough that has germinated (if you’ll forgive me) in the lower regions of his bellows. Or he hauls back and discharges a sneeze of championship voltage that successfully sprays everyone within a 12-foot radius.

To take advantage of the aerosol method, therefore, one must first spot a likely candidate. Ideally, this will be a person who talks as if he has a Kleenex up his nose. Then when he stops talking, closes his eyes, throws his head back, clutches a support, and begins emitting gutturals of “aah … aah … aah,” you maneuver within firing range before the impending explosion.

Unless the germs are of visible size, you won’t know if you have been successful, of course, for the following three days. If it’s a dud, then back to the old drawing board.

The “hand transfer,” on the other hand, is not only simpler but even more effective.

The custom of shaking hands began, as every schoolboy knows, in the Old West as a means of proving that the hand was not holding a shooting iron. The custom continues today mainly for the purpose of transferring cold germs from an infected party to an innocent victim.

Authorities on the subject of colds, pleurisy, pneumonia, and double pneumonia tell us that we are less subject to risk by kissing a germ carrier than by shaking his hands. (I say his because I’m not sure if women catch colds. I’ve never been a woman.)

According to said authorities, the mouth has been imbued with certain defenses against the common cold. Whether killer breath, 90-proof saliva, or what, I can’t say. After all, I don’t know everything. For our purpose, the 20 or more strains of cold viruses do not get along well in the mouth’s environment.

The hand, however, lacks any such defense. Press the flesh of the cold-germ carrier, then touch your nose or even your eyes, and bingo! You’ve got ’em. Moreover, the little rascals are said to live for up to two hours on doorknobs, playing cards, hymnals, slot machine handles, public telephones, filthy lucre, and stuff like that.

Anyone bucking for a seven-day sabbatical, therefore, has dozens of opportunities for cold contagion throughout the week. But should the workaday world let you down and you are a church member, don’t give up hope. You’ll shake more hands at your average church than at a Rotary convention.

First, there’s the gauntlet of greeters at the door. Not content with handing you a program, which on a good day may be crawling with germs, they must also pump your hand–long enough at least to assure that even the weakest germ has made the transfer.

Following the first hymn and before you can sit down to get in a few winks, the preacher cheerily stops the service dead in its tracks with the announcement, “Now turn and greet your neighbors.”

This allows you to shake hands with the couple behind you, then the couple in front of you. The person sitting beside you, opposite your spouse. And just in case you should be germ-free up to this point, there’s always the guy with a cold three pews back or from across the aisle who will risk a hernia to grip your mitt.

I know. You workaholics shudder at the thought of maybe having to take a few days off. But if you still insist on going to church, the solution does not require a brilliant mind. As I shall prove.

These suggestions are for you to offer to your church board members at their next meeting. I would go with you, but I’ll be busy that night.

First of all, suggest including a surgical mask with the program handed to you at the door.

Second of all, mark the page of the opening hymn with a surgical glove to be donned before the handshaking ritual begins.

Third, relegate one wing of the sanctuary for “Coughers and Sneezers Only.”

Fourth, rather than placing parishioners on the altar of the common cold, how about adopting the Japanese germ-free custom of greeting by bowing from the waist? One bow per couple.

Fifth, go back to the equally hygienic Native American greeting of raising a hand with a friendly “How.” Or perhaps “How’s it going?” Or “How ya doin’?”

Last, install a wash basin, bacterial soap dispenser, and towel rack at the end of each pew. Should these succors impede the stampede out of the church following the sermon, perhaps they could be passed along with the offering plate. Sort of a give and take.

I had thought of suggesting a bottle of gargle stashed in the rack holding the hymnals. But some among you might consider this ridiculous. And I certainly wouldn’t want that. Not at this late date.

Difficult as it may be, please believe that I am not trying to drive anyone from a stuffy church into the fresh clean air of the golf course or the fishing boat on Sunday morning. Nor am I suggesting that limiting the length of the sermon for cold-precaution strategies is an idea straight from heaven.

All I’m saying is, whichever cup of tea is yours, I am merely offering a few ideas steeped in my own mental pot. And so be it.

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