Read Old Man Scanlon


19 July 2011

I've just finished up several days of fighting a virus, if you can call my spineless response fighting. Its fever, cough, and gastrointestinal effects weren't all that spectacular, although living with continuous hiccups for a few days was a little bizarre. What got to me was my total lack of energy. To achieve recumbency from a sitting position took a major act of will. It was so lamentably easy to just give up; I hadn't been this enervated since open-heart surgery Mack-trucked me sixteen years ago. The battle ebbed and flowed, blasting my comfortable expectation of a nice monotonic improvement curve. Then after nearly a week I could feel it: the shelling had stopped. The bad guys had gone, only a small cadre of saboteurs remaining to guard their escape, but they left me thinking, "Goddamn it, some day these bastards could win." This was a sobering thought. All the pious bull I write about death being normal and natural exposes itself as a sixty-year-old's whistling through the graveyard.

No normal kid in his twenties wastes much brainpower contemplating the idea of his own death, let alone at the hands of a pedestrian virus, nor should he. I certainly didn't. Even at that age I'd known for years that I was fair game because of a chronic disease that would inexorably get me if I failed to be overtaken first by cancer, a lunatic Massachusetts driver, or a murderous cuckolded husband. But of course I couldn't really understand. Now I know—the freaking microbes are out to get me, too. Now I know how good my life is—everyone covets it.