Let's take a break from the presidential primaries and talk for a moment about the bad cold that got its talons into me last week and is hanging on despite an onslaught of pharmaceuticals. My gosh, I have thrown fistfuls of acetaminophen, pheniramine maleate, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, dextromethorphan, prednisone, azithromycin, doxycycline at the situation, plus herbal concoctions involving chamomile, ginger, anise hyssop, slippery elm, mullein and mint, and have drunk enough liquid to float a houseboat, and what is the upshot? Burning eyes and a headful of sludge and gloomy thoughts. Plus which I am totally self-absorbed. Me! One of the most outgoing public-spirited guys you'll ever meet. Completely wrapped up in my own little world. Sick.
Q. Which of the presidential candidates do you feel is more sympathetic to your health problems?
A. The Barack Obama campaign contacted me personally and asked me how I am but only in a cursory way and then went on to ask for money. I am still waiting to hear from the others.
Q. Where did the cold start?
A. It began in Monterey, Calif., on Tuesday, Jan. 8, around 1 or 1:30 in the afternoon at a restaurant overlooking a marina with a couple hundred boats that, thank God, you and I don't own. A cold rain was falling and I was having lunch with friends and suddenly the conversation slipped sideways from the standard agenda (Work, Kids, Trips & Aging Parents) to a recent great awakening in their lives that helped them arrive at a union with God and to finally know themselves and find forgiveness, all based on the mystical visions of a woman in New York whom Jesus told stuff to in 1965, which is a lot to absorb while you're downing a big bowl of mussels and linguini. My friends were leaning across the table and telling me I really, really ought to look into this, and I thought, "Well, this is what happens in places where there isn't enough snow." And then I felt that hot itchiness behind the eyeballs that signals the arrival of a virus.
Q. What should Ben Bernanke be doing right now to bring you some relief?
A. An economic stimulus could help, but I don't see it coming from the government, unless I were to win the Powerball lottery. Fifteen or twenty million dollars could fix things pretty fast. But otherwise it'll take time.
Q. As a senior citizen, do you feel that the healthcare system is doing all it can for your health problem?
A. I am not now, and never have been, a senior citizen. I happen to be 65 years old. Not the same thing. I am lively and quick, don't shamble or shuffle, and don't clutch the banister when I go downstairs. The brown spots on the backs of my hands are from experiments with a chemistry set when I was a boy. I have the urinary tract of a young horse. Doctors continue to be astonished. What was the question?
Q. On the whole, is your health good?
A. Considering the aggravations, yes, I'm in fine fettle. I have no social skills, which makes life a challenge, but it also leaves me with plenty of time alone, which enables me to write this column, which pays for my Metamucil. I used to like being around people in my age group because they remember who Buddy Holly was and don't require footnotes, but they're dropping like flies and others are so gloomy it's impossible to talk and not get a long cello passage about pensions and the prostate, but I keep going. I was walking by a basketball court the other day and a ball came skittering my way and I picked it up and there was a tall beautiful woman waving to me from under the basket. Though I was wearing a suit and tie at the time, I took aim and hit a 30-footer from the corner, slightly behind the backboard. Swish. Her jaw dropped. I waved and walked on. That is just my way. I do my best and I move on. Last week I moved some stocks around and grew my portfolio by 10 percent in three days. You can make money when the market is going down. Some people don't know that. But I've got to run. Every day. Ten miles. That's my secret. Takes me about an hour. And I've never been sick a day in my life. Knock on wood. See you around.
(Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" can be heard Saturday nights on public radio stations across the country.)
© 2008 by Garrison Keillor. All rights reserved. Distributed by Tribune Media Services, Inc.