It started with my sister Alice in Sacramento. She’d recently flown to and from Hawaii and, despite wearing a mask while in an airport or on a plane, she caught it. She told me all about her trip when she got home and the next thing I knew, it was my turn to have it, and what a doozy it was!

In Longmont, Jane in my book group joked that I gave it to her. Scott in Utah said he came down with it within a week after talking to me. Kris, Frank, and then my affiliate Joe got socked with it too.

We’re not talking about COVID, thank goodness. What’s going around—in my circles anyway—is simply the common cold. The odd thing is, I have only been in contact with all these people via Zoom. None of us (except Joe and me) live in the same city or town. Are we passing our germs through our computer screens?

Hey, if They can inject tracer chips into my arm by way of a vaccination needle, I wouldn’t be surprised if we can spread a cold via Zoom.

I started to feel a scratchy throat a week ago last Wednesday. But I could explain it: I often spend my workday cooking over a fire as I teach grade school students that flour and water “pancakes” could keep people alive as they traveled with a covered wagon on the Oregon Trail in the 1860s.

I figured my throat felt raw from breathing in smoke all day long. But the tenderness in my throat didn’t go away. When I woke up Friday feeling like it was time to go to bed rather than time to get up, it was obvious I was sick. My thoughts immediately turned to COVID. Neighbor Charley had cold symptoms and he tested positive for COVID, putting a temporary halt to his renewed social life as a dancer (Charley is 86). But other people get COVID, not me!

I dug out the tests we received in the mail from the United States government several months ago, and Joe and I both tickled our brains via our nostrils with cotton on the end of a stick. Fifteen minutes later the test strips showed negative. Whew! I breathed a sigh of relief and went back to bed. Still, a nagging hunch stirred mistrust in my results so I repeated the test the next day. Negative again. I sat on the edge of the tub in the bathroom and thought, if I didn’t have the dreaded Coronavirus, why was I so tired? I made an appointment the next day and had another test done at CVS.

Negative. I was finally convinced I was COVID-free. (The CDC’s website says, “Multiple negative tests increases the confidence that you are not infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.” They’re right.)

The common cold hasn’t been very common since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020. We put our masks on, washed our hands, kept our distance, stayed home, and most folks I know didn’t get sick—COVID or otherwise—until we started taking our masks off. But the common cold beasties lurked just below the surface, like weed seeds that wait until we till the soil and then sprout, sometimes a hundred years after they’d fallen to earth. Those germ gremlins cursed our diligence while they waited for their opportunity. Then, <<WHAM! >> when they attacked, they came at us with might! It’s been years since I’ve had a cold. Those germies have been saving up and released their sniffling, sore, sleep-inducing symptoms all at once.

But they’re not going to win—this time. However, the White House is sending more tests to have on hand, just in case. If you haven’t had to use yours, count your blessings. I hope your home tests stay in your medicine cabinet, unopened, forever. They are convenient when the need arises, although I hope I won’t need another one for a long time. And when I do, I’ll expect it to be negative. I’m positive about that.

You may let The Thunker know what you think at her e-mail address, donoholdt@gmail.com.

© 2022 Sarah Donohoe

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