>>> The Rollercoaster of Drama
By staff writer Simonne Cullen
December 21, 2003

Finally winter break has begun and that means sleeping in late, drinking, overeating rich foods, and spending your parents money. Kind of like school only you're doing it surrounded by the dwindling high school crowd and anyone at your school who lives within a three mile radius. But this year for me it means being sick. Saturday was stuffy, Sunday was snotty, Monday was phlegmy, Tuesday was post-nasal drippy, and by Wednesday it was the flu. Now, as I sit here more red-nosed than that lame reindeer with a sea of used Kleenex at my feet, all that's flashing in my mind are those stupid signs telling me to get a free flu vaccine and me rolling my eyes, convinced my white blood cells wouldn't yield to any measly “influenza virus.” I seem to be overestimating a lot this year.

I didn't think having the flu at home would be so bad. I slept away most of the day in the beginning, and endured painfully delicious food and parental service in the middle. But as I felt better, of course, I longed to see my best friend (the TV) and it's colleague, the satellite dish. So I made the journey downstairs, got comfy in the recliner with my box of tissues and nose spray, and clicked the TV/satellite on—only to sit there in horror at the fuzzy realization that someone had cancelled our subscription.

Funny things parents do while you're away. Some turn your bedroom into a den or a computer room and make you sleep on an inflatable mattress. Some decide to go on a diet and treat you to newfound health products like artichoke hearts and soy products instead of the reliable Krispy Kremes refrigerator greeting. Others move furniture around the house—and don't ask me how they fit the grand piano into the crawl space. I wish my parents fell somewhere between option two and three, but no, they are the rare eccentric breed and proved it by canceling the cable.

At first I was puzzled. Something was clearly wrong and a cable probably needed to be joggled in the back. So I called for my mom to take care of it even though she was fifty feet away and I was five. When she came into the room she chuckled and that's when I knew she was the spawn of Satan and terminated my precious TLC, 8 HBO's, 3 Cinemax's and Baby Jesus forgive her—my MTV and Comedy Central.

So now I sit here watching the local channels. Paris Hilton is my new hero. Sorry mom. And has anyone noticed that Law and Order is taking over? It's branched out into three separate shows! SVU, CI, and regular with the guy who played that chick's father in Dirty Dancing. I said it first, that show is taking over NBC people!

But regardless of my misery here at the loft, it's a fact that it's better to be sick at home than at college. The first time you're sick at college some people don't know what to do. Some refuse to pick up medication at Walgreens, relying on their immune system to push through this epidemic. Others that do go find themselves dumbfounded in the cold medication aisle and end up purchasing Triaminic because that's the only thing they remember taking as a child. And then there are the rare few that build up the courage and enter the health center willingly. I clearly did not fall into that category.

I decided to forgo my annual vaccine for two reasons. One, I felt obligated as an American to pass on my injection (not viral infection) to someone in more need. In other words, out there right now is some kid in a puffy Green Bay Packer jacket is not wiping his matching green boogers on his sleeve. And two, the health center at my school is known as the “You're just constipated” Center or the “It's just cramps” foundation.

In a real doctor's office you see credentials and diplomas framed on the wall to reassure patients they did actually go to a respected medical school. I'd like to think that our nurse is still waiting for hers to come in the mail from the University of Phoenix Online because all that's on the wall are old school 80's posters of celebrities advocating reading at your public library. How comforting to know that the nurse (doctors are available by appointment only) has no qualifications, but A-List actors are still out there promoting against illiteracy.

Everyone has had an encounter with their health center that has made them bitter. For me it was my bad case of food poisoning my freshman year. The nurse, who I am convinced has never dealt with more than a hangover, asked me a series of questions involving words like “diarrhea, loose, and soft poop”—which I'd like to state for the record, I did not have symptoms of. But hearing them made me envision them and I ended up vomiting into a stolen United Airlines barf bag she provided me with. She concluded I was just nauseous from the spring heat (a whopping 78 degrees) and gave me some Dramamine. Thanks lady. I'll use it for the ambulance ride over to the real doctor.

Don't you love the bowl of free condoms sitting outside the check-in window where normally butterscotch and peppermint candies would be? The nurse arranges them so nicely in the bowl that if you take one the whole pattern of generic fun-color (blue and green seem to be the least popular) is disordered. So now she'll know exactly who's having sex, and if they're in again, she can just claim they were having too much of it and that is the cause of their stomach ache (wink wink).

These condoms are usually utilized as gag gifts for birthdays or filled with conditioner and strategically placed on friends' doorknobs. But sometimes I wonder if they're replaced as treats after an injection. “You took that shot like a man Billy. (Rummages through cabinets) Let me see if I can get you a reward…. Hmm, we seem to be fresh out of sugar-free suckers, but would you like a rubber instead? We don't have anymore ribbed, but I can offer you mint-flavored or plain lubricated. Your choice hon.”

As for me, I'll be sitting here with the flu, no cable, and a prehistoric dialup internet connection for at least another four days. But don't worry, the antenna is providing me with quality Hallmark Christmas movies on every channel. All ten of them.