Temperature up. Throat scratchy. A productive cough.
If you do not know what a “productive” cough is, you do not want to. And you do not want to check — especially at the dinner table.
There is, however, something definitely going around. I suspect that it is not the flu.
I do suspect that it is The Trump. I have actually heard him blamed.
“Everybody feels lousy, tense, run down.” (Can you feel tense and run down simultaneously? Doesn’t matter. Donald Trump promised us things that no one had ever promised us before.)
I was at a book party where there were perhaps 200 people. As the evening went on, the conversation grew more and more strident. It became more like a book fray than a book party.
And you knew what everyone was talking about before you had fully entered the room.
“I refuse to let him drive me out of my own country!” a guy said, slapping the bar and sending up a mist of warm beer. “Let him leave!”
“Yeah!” said another with considerable enthusiasm, as if Trump were not weeks away from his inauguration as president.
It took a few moments for that thought to settle in. It took a few moments for people to start realizing he is staying and those who don’t like it can go if they want to.
If they have the money to go, that is — and the documents to stay away for a long period of time. It’s not like going down to Cunard and saying, “I’d like to go sailing.”
“Brilliant,” they would reply. “And when is it you would like to go?”
“Immediately,” you would say. “And then back. But there is no hurry about that.”
“Lovely,” they would reply with a laugh. “Absolutely lovely. And where is it you would like to go?”
“Oh, everywhere,” you’d say. “Except for here. I’ve already been here.”
Then you all would laugh, and they would tap a few keys on their computer keyboard and put a “let’s get down to business” look on their faces.
“Date of departure and date of return?” they would ask.
“Leaving as soon as possible — tomorrow would be OK — and returning Jan. 20, 2021,” you would say.
They would chuckle as they typed. “Getting a lot of requests for those dates!” they would say.
Then they would ask you to gather together a few documents, such as your passport, visa requests and vaccination forms.
And also, almost apologetically, they would ask for a deposit — dollars, pounds, euros. They are not picky. And in return, they would give you a T-shirt, a baseball cap, a case of fine wine, some aged cheese and a Shetland pony.
It would all be quite jolly. The people behind you in line would not be impatient. They’d laugh and joke and take a few sips of what they like to call “shampoo.”
And the United States even makes it easy for people to vote in the upcoming U.S. elections, be they state or federal, while they are away.
There would be larger-than-life photographs of The Donald on every wall. And beneath each one would be a banner reading, “Make America Great Again.”
“I’m sure your trip will be a dream,” the people behind the counter would say.
“No,” you’d say. “This part is the dream. The next part is the nightmare.”
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