Let’s be very clear, and I could do with some clarity right now. There is nothing common about the common cold. If there is such a thing as a common cold, I’d like to know what the uncommon cold is. Because it certainly isn’t the weather, the freezer, ice-cream, or some people’s hearts. And while cold-hearted people can be unpleasant, nothing can quite beat the experience of a common cold. Unpleasantness is to, but, put it mildly. It is time we woke up to the absolute horror of the common cold. And if that doesn’t make scientists drop their roboting and outer-spacing ambitions and get together and concentrate on curing this, I don’t know what will.
I wanted to write about something else today. Something deep and meaningful and important. Something even funny, genuinely, genuinely funny, to convince myself and you that yes, I can do it. However, an ill-advised but necessary trip early on Monday morning ( isn’t everything that we do on Monday morning besides sleeping ill-advised but necessary?) caused the downfall of the promises for the rest of the day. I’m not a good sleeper. But last night especially, was absolute torture. No matter how many pillows I propped up against my head or however many angles I manipulated to better the relationship between my runny nose and gravity, nothing could help me breathe or sleep. The relationship isn’t any better after a day, but why should I hope it to be, when all that mankind has learned about the common cold is that it doesn’t go away, medicines or not, for a week at least?
I get irritated watching programmes on mankind’s advancements, which is often just a humblebrag on how great we think we are. Oh, look at us. Not as big as elephants or dinosaurs, not able to fly like even the common, house sparrow (a beautiful creature, that is another thing that should not be called common) but have enormous brains, of which we only use 10% and do all these clever things we do. Look at all the ammunition we’ve created. Every crime show out there is built on showing creative ways in which we can kill each other off, because we’ve created medicines that keeps us alive longer than nature intended (other than for the common cold of course). I understand that there are many viruses out there used as weapons, but has anyone thought of the common cold as a saboteur? Not as a symptom of some other debilitating disease, but just by itself, out of the blue? I mean, trying to cross a road with this thing is absolutely lethal. Just as an uncontrollable sneeze arrives, for which I have to apologize immediately ( I blame you mankind, for inventing that custom), a car keeps honking at me, where I suddenly have to jump like an action hero or…it is the end of Of Opinions.
Any biologists reading this, I’d like to appeal to your humanity, and ask you to think about how to cure this, perhaps the biggest threat that has been there for all of eternity. I mean, you have plenty of resources. You can draw up patient histories. You can collect enough snot. You can get fMRI scans of the brain while it sneezes. You can draw up possible explanations for the apology that comes after, maybe because of the involuntary but slight urination that sometimes accompanies a sneeze ( don’t be a prude, you know you do this). You can study the various degrees of sneezing, from the gentle, flirty one, to the dizzying, I-just-broke-a-rib one. You can study why chicken soup and tea are the only things that can remotely make anyone feel good in this misery. You can draw correlations among world leaders between their sneezing habits and bad decisions. There is endless possibility for research, and it won’t at all be expensive. So, get working. Get results. I mean it.
I shall always remember year 2000. I remember everybody being excited about it, and though I was a child, I was just as common in anticipation for the new millennium. Little did I know on the 31st of December, 1999, that I would spend the next 366 days with endless handkerchiefs up my nose and Vicks Vaporub on top of it. Some people even snort Vaporub for pleasure, whereas I should probably be in a commercial for it. I, at least, deserve a thank you card.
Here is my thanks anyway: Lunsford Richardson and Dr. Joshua Vick, thank you for being the only sensible people in the history of mankind, by focusing on inventing and making common, one of the only moderately workable solutions to the common cold. Some day, I shall plant a eucalyptus tree in your honour, and its white trunk will remind everyone of the purity of your intentions, and the slight peace you provide us, those who are endlessly plagued.