My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk
Today we discover that having tonsillitis as an adult is no fun at all. I have strangely fond memories of sick days as a child, and they are mostly food-related: tiny star-shaped pasta in vegetable broth, endless cups of decaffeinated tea with lemon and sugar, the occasional ice cream to soothe a blazing hot throat.
Back then, no matter how serious the illness, the pain was somehow eased by the knowledge that I didn’t have to go to school, by augmented care and attentions on behalf of my parents, and by the normally illicit pleasures of daytime television. In 1980s Italy, this included such gems as endless repeats of The Dukes of Hazzard and The Bad News Bears - two formative texts which no doubt influenced my great love of Americana - and some unbelievably naff quiz shows called Il pranzo è servito and Bis.
There is no pleasure whatsoever in being sick as a grown-up. Yuck. I feel like bed-bound Keats listening to the nightingale’s song, tuberculotic Chekhov on his death-bed (minus the champagne), or post-partum Anna Karenina (minus the morphine). Bring on La Bohème.
I’m a hypochondriac and this sounds melodramatic, yes. But I’ve had a 102°F fever for the past 4 days, my throat is a swollen bacterial inferno, every single inch of my body has ached at some point or another, I have no appetite at all and the mere thought of ice cream sends me shivering. I kid ye not, I could list impending death amongst the symptoms.