Regifting during the holidays

What I want for Christmas is simple.

I want the name and address — residential or workplace — of the person who shared their flu virus with me.

I want all of the resources made available to every local, state and national law enforcement and intelligence agency combined, along with every investigator, technician and lab worker on every CSI show ever broadcast on TV devoted to finding my Patient


I want the hunt for bin Laden to look like a teetotaler’s hunt for an open bar at 2:15 in the morning when compared to the search for my Typhoid Harry.

Clearly the need for recovery is greater than the need for accountability, but doctors will tell you that having something to live for goes a long way in re-establishing good health.

So I live to meet face to face the person who gave to me the gift that keeps on giving for the last 14 or so days and which will probably continue gifting coughs, sneezes and aches for another 14 days at least.

Cold and flu viruses can live from minutes to hours once deposited outside the body so there is no immediate way of discerning where I was when the microscopic havoc wreakers landed in my lungs and started their diabolical campaign of destruction.

Germs can hop from an infected person’s seemingly clean hands onto an unsuspecting victim during the course of an innocuous handshake. And given that the average person reportedly touches their face about 3.5 times an hour it doesn’t take long for the germ of defilement to find its way from fingertip to nostril. Fortunately I have not met too many new people since the end of November and beginning of December so there was hardly a need for handshakes. Unfortunately I’ve encountered plenty of friends and family with whom hugging is the preferred way of greeting and leaving.

Viruses can live for days on nonporous surfaces like plastic and steel so there is the chance that an unwittingly ill barista, bartender or sandwich maker touched a surface I contacted and made the buggy transfer that way.

And there is also the disconcerting and terrifying method of invisible transfer in which a sneeze, cough or germ-laden breath carries droplets of pain and discomfort over and through the tumultuous jet streams of air and into one’s lungs without the courtesy of an accompanying hi, how are you.

In other words, a sneeze at the checkout stand could find its way to a driver just getting out of their car in the parking lot.

The methods of delivery are myriad and the possible carriers almost incalculable. But with enough resources I can find the person, that one lovely generous person responsible for my bodyaches, fever, nighttime hacking and raw throat and wish them a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year with a big, wet sloppy kiss on the mouth.