YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

Zan Thompson

Will Everyone Get a Grippe on Themselves?

January 25, 1987|ZAN THOMPSON

Kay Murphy wears leg warmers. Madeleine Anderson jumped into bed and covered up her head. Marty Erck goes to the office for a few hours, exposing his fellow yuppies to his Westside version of the 1987 flu.

Most people force fluids. I have never understood, "Feed a cold and starve a fever."

I have never understood whether they mean to eat if you have a cold or if you do eat, you will become so much sicker, you will have a fever.

Then there is the old saying that was found scratched on the wall of an Etruscan amphitheater, "Take medicine for a cold and it will last for a week. Leave it absolutely alone and it will be gone in seven days."

The column sounds like a post-nasal drip because I have had this dreaded affliction for a week and I'm ready for it to go away. Actually, I don't know what took me so long. I was beginning to feel like Father Damien, living among the lepers and remaining inviolate. Everyone has had this thing and not just in Los Angeles. I have talked to friends in Washington, D.C., and New York who made Camille sound like a high school pep squad song leader. These people are really sick.

Does this particular cold germ have a name? As I remember, the first strain with a geographical name was the Hong Kong flu. What made the health people think it was from Hong Kong? Could it enable you to run up a suit in 24 hours and have an hour left to run over and pick up a designer dress or two?

Then there was the type-A flu. I think that was when they ran out of countries. Actually, although I'm sure all the doctors who work on these squiggly little germs can tell the difference, those of us who have it can't.

Everyone says that this bug leaves you with a dry hack for a couple of weeks and that you feel as if all your energy had been drained. I have felt like that since Tim had the measles and Candy, the collie, had her 11 pups and couldn't nurse them and I bottle-fed them and that was a long time ago.

Actually, I have never been convinced that calling the bugs by all the different names helped a bit except to add a bit of glamour the first five or six times.

Everyone just called it the flu, or, more elegantly, la grippe, which is what my mother called it. La grippe meant milk toast, which was never served at any other time. And nothing tasted as good. The lovely hot milk afloat in lily pads of melted butter globes and dusted with salt and pepper. I have heard of people who put sugar on it, but we know who they are. They're the same people who put catsup on French fries, and there go half my readers.

Of course, the cold, dry weather isn't helping people. But is seems to me that everyone has the same amount of colds, no matter what the weather. Some people have sad, little drippy conditions a great deal of the time, but they are probably allergies or something. I mean the kind of cold where you start with a scratchy throat and proceed formally to the headache, the sneezing, the clogged nose.

Probably the best thing you can do for yourself and your friends is to stay away from them. I remember a television commercial a few years ago that infuriated me. This one was such an insulting presentation, I remember it clearly.

An annoying lady in a crisp apron and every hair in place was dishing up ice cream at a children's birthday party. She looked at the camera and simpered, "Would you believe I have a cold? But since I took Dr. Mulligrew's pre-tested nose drops, my sinuses are clear and I do not cough any more."

No. All she does is send these kids home to their unsuspecting mothers with roaring head colds. Just suppressing her symptoms doesn't stop that lady from spreading her cold.

Get enough sleep, stay warm and know that you will live in spite of your fondest wish to have the whole silly thing over. And most of all, until spring tippy-toes around the corner and this stuff goes away, God bless you. Pardon me: It's time for me to gargle with salt water.

Los Angeles Times Articles