It is not flu or cold season. The sun is warm and bright, the air is
hot and sticky. But you have that scratchy lump in your throat that heralds
the onset of a summer cold.

That’s right, you’ll have to take a hanky to the beach.

Summer colds are the worst. They can cramp your style, clog your
snorkel, slow your swimming and unbalance your skiing with retro-sneezes.
Sniffling in the sun, you may even feel feverish. But what can you do?
While others are having wet fun you are having wet misery. While others are
tanned and smiling, you will be drippy and sad.

It is so unfair, this summer cold thing – so horribly unfair.

Catch a cold in December and, well, it figures. You bundle up, you
buy boxes of Kleenex and extra cough drops. The whole ordeal becomes
bearable. You accept it with good grace. You can even seek temporary relief
by sipping hot tea. But try drinking hot tea in the dog days of August.
(What more can you do to break out in hives?)

You want to eat hot dogs and soda at a summer ball game, but
mentholyptus makes hot dogs taste funny. You want to drink that can of cool
soda, but carbonated drinks become positively dangerous, threatening to
backfire into your draining sinuses with unpredictable consequences.

People may argue the point, but no cold is worse than a summer cold.
You want to join that swimming party? “Go ahead,” says the summer virus,
“make my day.” You jump into a swimming pool and the virus gleefully spreads
to your ears. At first, all sound is muted. You may be 25 years old, but you
now require a hearing aid. Then comes the splitting pain of an earache.
And you know what that means. It is 105 degrees outside and your only relief
is to rest your head on a heating pad. The sweat beads up on your face and skull. It streams down to form a puddle until the accumulation threatens to short-circuit the heating pad, with the added possibility of death by electrocution.

A summer cold will drain you in more ways than one. Will there be
anything left besides a warm, salty puddle? At times like these you remember
that the human body is mostly water. And there you are, running like a
faucet. Yet you are told to “drink plenty of fluids.” This makes you even
runnier. You drink five glasses, and all five glasses pour back out of you.
How do you compensate? You try the cherry flavored cough drops because you
want to take a more cheerful approach to being sick, only the cherry drops
don’t work as well as the nasty tasting ones.

You might decide to try those pills, the ones that make the symptoms
go away. But this only guarantees that the cold will stay longer, return
sooner and hit harder on its return. So if you’re smart, you tough it out.
You spend that miserable week of affliction wondering who might have sneezed
or coughed in your direction. You think of that waiter with the sniffles
last week. You think of all the doorknobs you touched. Perhaps you forgot
to wash your hands at a critical moment.

Mother always said to wash your hands.

There are a few benefits to a cold. You don’t have to cook or clean
for anyone while you’re sick. After all, you don’t want to spread your germs
to the rest of your family and friends. On the other hand, those who are
maliciously inclined can purposely transmit their summer affliction to
others. And don’t think it doesn’t happen. In these modern times everyone
knows a cold is contagious.

We also know that misery loves company.

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