Sniffles.

Vaccinations are all the rage these days. Well, at least they’re the rage of conversation, as there’s a bunch of folks that believe vaccinations are the next best thing since penicillin and others believe vaccinations cause autism. Spying a money making opportunity, pharmacies all over the country are now offering vaccinations for the Flu and for Shingles. You can just walk into your local drug story and request a vaccination. Here you go, enjoy.

I’m a proponent of vaccinations, though I don’t like being forced to get one. When I went back to college back in the middle ’00s I had to get a new round of MMR (Measles, Mumps, Rubella) vaccinations because I was old at the time and apparently the country doctor I saw as a child was ahead of the curve by a couple of months (at least according to the records I was able to obtain) so modern medicine considered by original vaccines to be invalid. I was rather cranky about having to get the vaccinations again but that’s what I do. I don’t really like being told what to do.

I went for my six month checkup with my primary physician earlier this week. On cue he stationed himself behind the computer hanging off the wall, grabbed the ergonomically friendly mouse, and promptly asked me a bunch of questions as if he was reading a script off the monitor that was garnering all his attention. I could have dropped my drawers right there to show him my junk but he was too enthralled by my medical records on the LCD screen.

“Do you want a flu shot?”, he asked, casually.

Before I answered I gave him a look of such duration it would have made Bea Arthur blush. He finally turned from the monitor (I didn’t hear any Pac-Man died noises or anything) and awaited my reply.

“I’m told that it’s the right thing to do, especially living in an urban environment like we do right here in Chicago. Now, mind you, I haven’t had the flu in many years and the last time I had a flu shot, back in the mid 1990s, I was sick for a week.”

“You don’t get the flu from a flu shot. You might show flu-like symptoms, but they’re not really the flu”.  His deadpan response was not as Bea-like as my pregnant pauses.

“Oh, joy!”, was my instant retort. I don’t know why Americans are so eager to get injected with even a little bit of a virus for the sake of thwarting off viruses but I was feeling a little more adventurous than usual so I said, “Oh why the hell not.”

He asked me to sit on the exam table. He listened to my heart beat, I took a breath while he listened to that and then he left.  On his way out he advised the nurse would be in for the flu shot, see ya in six months for your yearly physical.

“It was good to see you.”

“God’ll get you for that, Doctor”.

The nurse came in and I asked her about the flu shot. She went through the flu-like symptoms shtick and then asked which arm I wanted assaulted, because it could be painful for a few days. It might have been the medical standard “you may feel some discomfort.”

I opted for the right arm, and surprisingly I didn’t even feel the needle.

Less than a day later it felt a little tender to the touch but it didn’t disrupt me from doing anything I enjoy doing with my right arm, but I noticed that I was starting to feel a little irritable. A few hours later I had the “flu-like symptoms” that weren’t the flu. And for the next three days I’ve felt run-down. And irritable. Very irritable. And sniffly. I’m irritable when I’m sniffly. It’s that whole “something is dripping down your throat” thing that irritates me, especially since I have scar tissue in my throat from during my first grade visit to the hospital apparently called “Tonsils ‘R Gone!”.

So help me God if I get anything that comes close to resembling the flu I’m going to lick every person, place, and thing I can get my tongue on. It won’t be sexy, but it’ll be honest.

Will I get another flu shot next year when everyone and their brother starts pushing these things again? We’ll see how I feel.

Watched.

Since the end of January I’ve been participating in the Weight Watchers program. At least that’s what it was called when we started the program; apparently it’s called something different now. The WW stands for whatever you want it to stand for. I think they were going for “Wonder Woman” but then realized those words were copyrighted and would probably alienate the small, yet present male population that also participates in the program. So now WW stands for Why? Why? 

For $20 a month (plus a hefty dose of Illinois Sales Tax), I am judged by a mediocre app experience at least three times a day. I have lost 25 pounds along this journey. The more I lose, the less points I am allowed to eat. A typical supper involves Earl making a meatball sandwich. He then throws the meatballs by my face while I inhale the mist of the meat. On Friday nights we go all out and he blows the scent of tomato paste in my face. I then deduct a healthy dollop of the scant amount of points I’m allowed. He then eats the meatball sandwich because he gets decades more points than I’m allowed and then he eats a brownie while in hiding in the other room as  I weep.

I must tell you this whole Weight Watchers experience has me feeling as wonderful as an audience member of Oprah’s show where she released the bees.

At 50 years old, amid the pressures of being a gay man that has never really fit into any situation, let alone an urban gay community such as that found in the city of Chicago, I know that I’m suppose to try to turn back time and look as fantastic as possible. I should try to be healthy because, despite the fact that I’m a stress eater, the food supply is rampant with as many unhealthy cost-effective ingredients as possible, and I must work my ass off 10-12 hours a day so we can have nice things, I need to keep my numbers in a range that was determined in the 1950s when folks had actual food made from actual ingredients, time to sleep, and worked eight-ish hours a day.

Nothing brings more joy to my heart than eating an eighth of a soy burger on a bun and seeing that I’ve used my points up for the next three days. Oprah sits there on a “WW” commercial wolfing down tacos and making sing-song noises about how she can eat anything she wants. I had one taco in Salt Lake City, Utah during our vacation and “WW” told me I had just burned off a third of my daily points and by the end of the day I realized I did not earn the coveted Blue Dot, a passive aggressive reminder that once again I failed at keeping my points within range.

Every night I see these millennial types sitting in all the pubs and restaurants and other glorious things we have here in Chicago. They have plates of nachos, plenty of beers, and they’re smiling and laughing and having a grand time. I wedge myself into a booth, order a beer, and Yet Another Salad and by the end of the experience I’m slightly giddy but needing a shirt that says “Goodyear” up the side. The happy millennial types order another round as they look at me playing on my phone.

I’m looking down being passive aggressively scolded by the “WW” app. I have lost my dot again.