How To Even…Deal with the Common Cold
By CL Bledsoe & Michael Gushue
It’s the most magical time of year: cold season.
Now, there are people who say they’ve never had a cold. We’ve all met them, with their gold-plated sweatpants and bikini-waxed nostril hair. Such folks usually attribute this miracle to some personal virtue — which you don’t have — or a secret health routine — which you don’t know about and probably couldn’t afford (it has to do with eating chia pets and sniffing kale). Cold deniers fall into two subcategories: outright liars, and people who have no idea what a cold is.
Straight Talk: Every single human being on earth has had a cold, is presently experiencing a cold, or will catch a cold in the near future. In some respects colds are like daydreams: yours are fascinating; everyone else’s are boring and you don’t want to hear about it.
Fortunately, we did want to hear about it. And the fruits of that research (mostly eavesdropping in bathrooms) will now be yours. First, some science.
Like everything else in biology, talking about fluids is disgusting but necessary, and will make you feel a little dirty afterwards. (We’ll try not to use the word “moist.”) (Oops, sorry.) Unfortunately, we’re stuck with this sloppy mess called a body until we get replaced by shiny, plastic androids. In the meantime, there are three main fluids we have to discuss: snot, phlegm, and tears.
Nasal mucus (snot)
Most laymen believe that nasal mucus is produced only when a person has a cold. Actually, the average nose produces approximately 5 liters of snot a day. This irrigates the sinuses and encourages a healthy crop of rice. The reason you don’t notice all this nasal fluid is that, after being produced, it is mostly absorbed by the brain. The brain uses all that liquid to take what’s known as a cranial “me-time” bath. The brain uses this bath to flush away unwanted thoughts and memories. This does not mean that bad memories or embarrassing thoughts are removed. Your brain is going to keep them, and torture you. (It has to have some fun. After all, it’s stuck with you, right?) What the cranial bath removes are memories and thoughts that take up too much RAM — like how to fill out a tax form, or whether you left the stove on or the water running — which are then flushed away to a happy farm somewhere upstate with all our dead pets.
But when you have a cold, the cold viruses link together to build a dam between your nose and your brain. The viruses divert the flow of nasal mucus into culverts and channels. Sometimes they make little paper boats to float, but, ultimately, all this liquid has to come out through the nose, via sneezing or dripping, often when you’re eating or talking to someone. See what assholes viruses are?
But where do viruses come from? You might want to sit down for this — haha, just kidding. We know none of our readers would ever stand unless under extreme duress. Anyway, we’re about to reveal a massive conspiracy that could shake the very foundations of everything you hold dear. Brace yourself: Kleenex are alive, aware, and intelligent.
It’s true. You probably thought they came from trees or something dumb like that, but no. That’s what they want you to think, due to a cultural misunderstanding that led them to think that people enjoy putting trees up their noses. Kleenex are not only alive, they’re aliens. They came to this planet in 1924. A naturally dry species, their planet was dying due to a lack of moistness. They were forced to abandon their home and seek the moisture of other worlds. Thus, they were drawn to the massive amount of liquid produced by the human body. (They find oceans to be ostentatious.) To them, our bodily fluids are not only sustenance but also a hell of a good time.
However, these aliens are also a very polite species. They didn’t want to just kill us and take our fluids (which would also be unsustainable). This is how the Kleenex was born.
Unfortunately, after Kleenexes were introduced, the American public soon clamored for something similar to replace the splintery toilet paper they’d been using. Kleenex aliens have a society not unlike our own, and the poorest strata was tasked with becoming toilet paper. All that we can say is we know it’s a tricky thing to try to understand a society other than our own, given their different mores and attitudes, but damn.
Phlegm is a thicker, richer form of mucus that has been enriched with other substances. The most common additive is evil.
A little history. The human body is made up of four elements: good, evil, Cheez-Its, and Wilco lyrics. Most of these elements exist in negligible amounts that have no real effect. Cheez-Its, for example, are mostly stored in the cheeks and between unflossed-teeth. Wilco lyrics live in our hearts, of course, where they guide us. Good is the rarest element and is usually immediately exhausted the moment it’s formed. We’re just stuffed with evil, though.
The human body is a repository of different kinds of evils which balance each other out. Too much of one or the other kind can lead to fashion faux pas or a slight case of megalomania. The body does a pretty good job of balancing its evil levels, but sometimes, we go on social media or watch Fox News, and an overdose of evil gets in. When that happens, the body will use Wilco lyrics and any Cheez-Its it can find to form a protective shell around bits of evil (think of how pearls are made). The body then expels this evil along with mucus. That’s phlegm. (This also explains why we crave junk food and sad music when we have a cold. The body is trying to replenish its Cheez-Its and Wilco lyrics stores.) Once balance has been re-established, it’s a good idea to avoid social media or Fox News for a while. This is good advice at all times regardless.
There are a range of cold symptoms you might have. A cold sufferer will not have all the possible symptoms, and no one symptom is proof of a cold. Some of the more common symptoms to look for are:
- Hot/Cold flashes
- Turtles become very insulting regarding your fashion sense
- Weight gain/weight loss
- Inability to lose or gain weight
- Restless leg syndrome but only when getting foot massages
- Finding murderbots kind of sexy. Not saying you approve of what they’re doing, just thinking, you know, there’s a pleasing symmetry…you know what? Nevermind. I thought you were an adult, David, who could have a discussion of things without having to involve emotion in everything.
- Don’t want to go to work.
- Crave pizza and salty crunchy things.
- Don’t understand the popularity of certain television shows.
- X-ray vision.
- Allergic to kryptonite.
Summer Versus Winter Colds: Fact and Fiction
Myth: Summer and winter colds are caused by the same germ; the only difference is how the seasonal weather affects the cold sufferer.
Fact: Summer and winter colds are not only two completely different species, but winter colds are native to Earth, while summer colds come from outer space.
But wait, didn’t we say that Kleenex are an alien species? That’s right, we did. Do you think there’s just one alien species living unbeknownst among us? Haven’t you ever watched Men In Black? If not, what do have against Will Smith? Is it because he’s a Scientologist? For shame.
There are hundreds of different kinds of aliens on earth right now, disguised as CVS receipts, spare tires, packets of duck sauce, MAGA hats, and Star Wars collectibles in their original packaging. For the most part, these beings just want to be left alone.
But some of our outer space visitors are less benign. And the summer cold is one of these. It is of course not a cold at all, but mimics the appearance and behavior of a cold so as to escape detection. Its true goal is to meet Kleenex aliens, of which it is a huge fan.
If you have a cold, you’ll have to change some of your regular habits and behavior. There are things you might normally do that you should avoid if you want be considerate of others. For example, don’t:
- Break into the nursery ward of a hospital and breath on all the babies
- Wander into a restaurant and randomly taste other people’s food
- Unwrap candy bars at the Wawa, lick them, and seal them up again
- Place your nose in other people’s mouth without asking permission
On the other hand, society demands certain positive actions from the cold sufferer.
First and foremost, you must let anyone you meet know that you have a cold, so they can shun you properly. Often, they can tell from looking at you that you have one. A red nose, flushed cheeks, and a little round belly that shakes when you laugh like a bowl full of jelly, are giveaways that you are a Common Cold Mary, ready to sow death and despair among the unsuspecting populace. But just as often you won’t exhibit any external signs. How close can someone come to you before you must tell them that you’ve got the sniffles? Science has the answer. Research at MIT has shown that a single sneeze can travel up to 1 mile from the nose, at speeds approaching 700 miles per hour, and send more than 10 trillion germs into the air. You are basically a thermonuclear bomb of illness, and this makes warning anyone to keep their distance difficult. Some suggestions would be a high decibel megaphone, or flares that can be seen from at least one mile away. Given today’s (secretly in-the-toilet) economy, it’s also easy to hire cheap labor, and have them run ahead of you to warn the villagers of your approach.
The obvious solution is to isolate yourself. Ask your boss if you can telework from the hyperbaric chamber you’ve installed in your living room. Of course your boss is going to say no, because s/he is a dick. This means you’re going to have to isolate yourself but also be portable. Unfortunately, you’ve gone in to debt to buy the hyperbaric chamber, so a pricey Ebola hazmat suit is out of the question. In order to keep your job, you have to make your own.
You start to assemble the materials for a DIY suit: empty cereal boxes, cardboard tubes, an XXL plastic trash bag, bubble wrap, duct tape. You’re pretty sure you have duct tape somewhere. Was it in this kitchen drawer, with the swizzle sticks, AAA batteries, monopoly pieces, and duck sauce packets? (Why do you have duck sauce packets? You haven’t ordered chinese in years.) No, no duct tape there. Scotch tape will have to do. You’re finding it hard to breathe with the trash bag over your head, even with the hole cut in it for the cardboard tube. You tape the other end of your cardboard tube hose to the exhaust vent on your vacuum cleaner. You should have done that first. It’s loud and the air coming from the vacuum cleaner smells funny, like old socks filled with angry mice. You also forgot about eye holes, so you can’t see anything. And the cereal boxes make awkward sterile booties. Maybe you should just swathe your head in plastic wrap and hope for the best. You think, how badly do I need this job? But the answer is really, really, really badly.
At this point, you come up with an alternate solution. You gulp down a bottle of daytime cold medicine along with several cups of coffee, and head for work. Once you get there, you’re going to lie like a rug and say that you do not have a cold, you’re feeling great. GREAT. Because of the combination of illness and over-medication, you’ll be completely unproductive, and will blend right in with the rest of the workforce.
Whether a cold is cause by a virus, a spurned witch’s curse, or it’s something you’re doing on a dare, there are many ways to prevent it.
- Always be courteous to witches, warlocks, or anyone magical. This seems obvious, yet hundreds of people still end up cursed every year. Think of witches, warlocks, et. al., something like cats. You can try to be nice and courteous to them, feed them whatever they like to eat, give them a box to poop in, etc., but realize that they still might bite you. So have some witchnip handy to keep things calm.
- Don’t lick public restroom toilet seats, urinals, or really anything in public without protection. Look, we’re not judging anyone, but there are very real dangers of catching colds if you lick a public bathroom toilet seat without wearing a condom. Unless colds are your thing, in which case, Godspeed.
- Avoid interacting with people. Most viruses and colds — and curses, while we’re at it — come from people. If you avoid people, you avoid catching colds. Of course, this will also weaken your immune system in the long run, but that just means you need to keep avoiding people.
There’s an old saying that goes “Feed a cold, starve a fever.” There’s a second, little known line — “Chop up your dad, but use a cleaver” — that makes the whole thing kind of suspect. But who are we to question wisdom?
What do you feed a cold? Is it lactose intolerant? Trying to cut back on carbs and eat more leafy greens? What about gluten? Is it going paleo? Science has yet to answer these questions. Luckily we have untested prejudices and baseless assumptions we can rely on, whether they make sense or not. For feeding a cold, the traditional answer is chicken soup.
Now, what is it in chicken soup that supposedly hunts down and kills cold germs? It’s not the soup part. Soup is basically salty water. If salty water cured colds, you could just brine yourself to wellness. And it can’t be the vegetables. That’s just gross. What we’re left with is the chicken. So why waste your valuable stomach real estate on soup? Think of all the room in there for chocolate volcano cake — or whatever they call it — that you’re wasting on a bowl of salty water with stuff in it. No, the way to cure a cold is to go right to the source: chickens. Tie those feathery bastards straight to your face.
But colds are stubborn, as we’ve all heard (they’re also prone to conspiracy theories, which is why you see their wack-a-doodle comments online so often). There’s no data on how long it will take to kill off all your cold germs, so you should test the chicken for compatibility before you tie it to your face. Do you have hobbies or interests in common? Are your political views compatible? If you’re a morning person, avoid choosing a chicken who’s a night owl. You’re going to be spending a lot of time together, after all.
We hope that we’ve managed to teach you something about the human body as well as the intergalactic community, and that you don’t write it off as a thinly veiled recruiting ploy for Scientology. (Everyone knows Scientologists don’t believe in colds.) We’re just trying to give context. The truth is that colds are tragic because they’re a small reminder of the realities of our lives: no matter how smart, attractive, rich, or well-dressed a person is, when they sneeze in their hands and don’t have a Kleenex, they’re going to wipe that on their clothes and pretend it doesn’t exist. But it exists, watching, waiting for a chance to strike. So let’s be careful out there.