As sure as Thanksgiving falls on a Thursday, my arch nemesis has sought me out. With the stealth of Vincent Price in The Invisible Man Returns, influenza snuck up from behind delivering a subtle sinus headache before grabbing me by the throat. By the time I realized the severity of the malaise, there was no derailing the Plague Express.
Three days into the joy ride that is the flu, I decided to take action. Phoning a local physician in the state of New Jersey (as opposed to my steadfast doc in Philly), I was informed that the doctor was out of the office all week. Might I see an associate? I croaked to the sympathetic nurse on the other end of my iPhone. Following a long pause, I learned that the other associate was fully booked but to make me feel better, did not accept my insurance anyway. A veritable win-win, I thought downing a few more ibuprofen. These were desperate times leaving me two options; drowning my febrile brow in bowls of chicken soup that I would have to make or seeking professional attention elsewhere. I chose the latter.
Signing in without actually touching a kiosk is no easy task. The CVS Minute Clinic indicated it would be more than a minute before I would be seen. 56 minutes, to be exact. Four chrome chairs outfitted in black leatherette beckoned. Opting for the one closest to the wall, I sat face to face with a revolving display of Spiritual literature. One book practically leapt at me, its cover illustration scalding flames. The title in all caps shouted, ANGER with the lowercase tagline, Facing the Fire Within. Might this be referring to my fever, or was it a pre-holiday subliminal message?
Maybe it was the fever or maybe it was the wheezing individual seated to my right. Abandoning my seat, I shuffled along the aisles pausing at toys and games. Perhaps occupying myself with a coloring book would pass the time. Upon closer inspection the only offerings featured Disney Princesses, none of whom I recognized. Barely hesitating at the candy aisle, I knew I was gravely ill; nary a chocolate tempted. Instead I plucked a bag of cough drops promising dual-action honey lemon cough suppressant in an oral anesthetic drop. It also called to me from the Swiss Alps, Riii-co-laaa.
A mere 40 minutes later, a physician’s assistant in a starched white coat summoned me to a closet of a room where he donned two pairs of medical gloves. I’ll admit at that moment the Law & Order SVU theme music danced in my head. I needn’t have worried; this fellow was in fact a professional. “You look sick,” he said politely. “You sound worse.”
Leaning against the prescription Pick-Up counter, I emptied the bottle of Purell while waiting. Carly Simon was wrapping up “You’re So Vain” on the pharmacy’s sound system. What followed was a song that probably shouldn’t have made the play list. Waiting for my prescription, clutching my cough lozenges, the song swelling in full crescendo through the speakers was “Live Like We’re Dying.” My acute melancholy was momentarily interrupted by the smiling clerk. “Yes,” I coughed into my elbow. “I’m waiting for my prescription. It’s under Gray.” She turned to rifle through the Gs returning with my child-proof locked bottle of salvation. “Helen?”
Holiday baking prep is similar to riding a bicycle. You may fall off the baking bench for a few days but when you return, it feels like you never left. With each pie shell, I am one step closer to Thanksgiving. I’ve been kicking around a few ideas for pies this week, but in all honesty, I haven’t the energy to head home this eve and bake one. A batch of scones sounds plausible, something that pairs nicely with steaming tea. Rolling another pie shell? Unthinkable. Until tomorrow.