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The Column

That Time of Year
11/30/03

It's that time of year again. Which is a dumb phrase to use, since every time of year is technically that time of year again. Except perhaps February 29th, which only happens once every four years and in way too many movies.

Why is it that February is such a short month, anyway? I'm guessing it really has to do with the sun or moon or President's Day Sale and is not completely arbitrary. I remember, as an eight-year-old kid, being asked by a clever 10-year-old how many months have 28 days. I told him it was just one, to which he said, "no – all of them" and laughed hysterically before I punched him in the nose.

Okay, so I didn't punch him in the nose, but I should have. And I'm sure someone did eventually.

So it is that time of year again. You can tell a lot about yourself by what time you think I'm talking about. The holidays, college football bowl season, finals, Winston Churchill's birthday – it is obviously that time of year for many things. But specifically for me, it's the time of year that I get so delirious on Sudafed that I write long winded columns about times of years and punching 10-year-olds.

I'm sick again. Miraculously, I have not been sick for an entire year. I had a day of sniffles back in October, but they went away very quickly so they don't count. For those of you who have been with this column for at least a year (happy anniversary, sweetums!), you might remember that I was so sick last year that I slept through Thanksgiving. Not the celebration – the entire day. To catch you up on what happened afterward, I was bed-ridden for two weeks, and by the time I felt "better," I'd lost 30 pounds and was too weak to stand for more than ten minutes at a time. But on the upside, new clothes were much cheaper since I needed so much less fabric.

After two months of a strict peanut and olive oil-based diet, I got back to normal. And I have been healthy ever since (except that day I finished an entire jar of peanuts). I started working out again, eating better, and I hadn't bought a new box of tissues in months.

And then came Flagstaff. On the way to my eventual Los Angeles destination, we stopped in Flagstaff, Arizona. If Arizona is supposed to be hot as hell, it must have frozen over the day before we arrived. Flagstaff is in northern Arizona – where every November 25th (or at least the one I was there for), it gets down to 17 degrees at night.

I woke up the morning of the 26th sneezing. A lot. I grabbed the roll of toilet paper from the motel bathroom and headed to the car, but the housekeeper stopped me.

"Is that from the room?" she asked.

"Yes, but I've been sneezing all morning and last night the heat wasn't entirely, well, on," I answered. "I would really like to be able to blow my nose in the car, and the room didn't have any tissues."

"Okay," she said as she took the roll from me and walked away.

I wished she was more considerate, or at least better versed in the meaning of the word "okay." Left with no choice, I raided the napkin supply of a local Subway, and was forced to blow my nose into what could have easily doubled as oak tag.

Four days and an economy-sized box of Sudafed later, I am still sick. In fact, it's worse now. Not just because I am sneezing more and the Carpathians and Russians are fighting for control of my head, but because my nose is almost gone. My nose is so chaffed from the oak tag tissues that when I heal, I am going to need a replacement. Good thing I'm in LA.

I have done what I can to get over this. I am hopped up on medicine, so much so that I use the phrase "hopped up." I have raided the local supply of orange juice, and have used a redwood worth of paper products (again, good thing I'm in LA). But this cold has shown absolutely no signs of letting up. I'd punch it in the nose, but if it's anything like me, it doesn't have one anymore. Also, I can't lift my arms.

I am, of course, kidding about not having a nose. I still have one – it's just a big red nose. Which is fitting, since it's that time of year again.

You know, Winston Churchill's birthday.

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