Powerful Medicines, Ranked

Twice a year I like to give myself a little treat and Become Ill. This provides a welcome break for my enemies and a useful reminder of the fallibility of the body to my allies. I celebrate by taking to my couch and texting everyone I have ever met minute-by-minute updates on my condition, to teach them that life is stern and life is earnest and that I need someone to bring me crackers. The following are the only ten remedies I have ever applied to a malady of the flesh. None of them work – nothing works – but they do pass the time, and there’s something to be said for that.

  1. A blue Powerade bottle, half-full and left in the car for at least fourteen hours until it becomes sun-hot and faded, powerfully swigged. Wince afterwards, as if you have just taken a shot in a movie. Really telegraph it for the seats in the back of the theater.

  1. Boil water for tea, but then do not make tea. Order a new tea kettle online from Target, then let it sit on the front porch until one of your more enterprising neighbors steals it. They deserve it. They are canny, supple-skinned, and their lungs and guts are full of oxygen and healthy bacteriums.

  1. Fall asleep only at the worst possible times. Once at 7am, then again at 1pm, then again at 5pm, then never again for the next 48 hours.

  1. Purchase every possible over-the-counter remedy targeted towards your specific symptoms, then leave a pair of nail scissors half-embedded in the blister-pack casing and take none of them.

  1. After nine days, give in and make an appointment with your doctor. Lie to her about something relatively unimportant, then agree to follow up with a visit to the lab and fail to appear.

  1. Throw up in your car. The sense of utter degradation and powerlessness will unlock something really new and interesting in your personal or professional life sometime in the subsequent six weeks.

  1. Un-quit smoking. This will not help, but it will feel profoundly amazing for about 30 seconds, then worse than anything has ever felt before in your life for the next 18 hours, which will at least be a change of pace. Or it will make you throw up again.

  1. Apologize to someone you have not spoken to in a few months for something they do not remember or care about, preferably over text, then ask them to tell you how work is going.

  1. Put as many ice packs as you can in between your calves, then fall asleep again.

  1. Speak unkindly to your cat for something he cannot help doing, then burst into tears.

There may be another loose blue Powerade rolling around in the trunk of your car. If all else fails, you still (probably) have that.