Certain things almost demand one another—
you can find them on their own
doing their tiny solo thing,
but you know they would rather be together:
eggs and bacon, death and taxes, baseball and summer,
anything and gin — but not to be out done,
one other pair must bear consideration—
I give you: Winter and the Common Cold.
It’s accepted, it’s expected, you’d think
we’d be disappointed with one and not
the other. Society might fray for want
of the universal wintry social emollient
provided by the common cold— it’s easier
to share than sex and it gives you more chances
for love, sympathy and conversation. The cures,
nostrums, effects, blow by blow accounts
of the national battle—the woe of sinuses
stuffed solid as a Gaspé snow bank,
the hot cold rushes dizzier than Niagara,
the barren strep throat of the Arctic plains—
from the first sorrowful exploratory sniffles
to the final victorious hack of vindictive expectoration
what neighbourly quality does the Common Cold not
possess? (Except, as remarked before, sex.)
How could we survive Winter without it?
It makes our national character, you can talk
all you like about tenacity, endurance,
pioneering spirit, but I’m talking
about the Common Cold and Winter.

 

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