Anything, anything, anything. I’d give anything to come finally to the bottom of the now seemingly bottomless pit of my sinuses. Damn these allergies. Damn them. Yet it seems at this point merely amazing that one human head, such as my own, might contain within such a voluminous sea of pure, sparkling mucus. Which, as I write these lines, seems intent on overflowing my skull, breaching the levees that are my nostrils and washing out the keyboard behind which I now sit.
I’ve single-handedly exhausted half the paper napkin supply at this Starbucks. Would that it was not true but in order to avoid much embarrassment, I must wait for the reedy voices of the overworked baristas to holler, “Grandetriplewhipmochasoyfrap!” Then, while they’re distracted by the making of said ridiculous beverage, I leap to the napkin dispenser, pinch two and a half inches worth and leap back to my miserable corner.
I’m certain the dopey kid two tables over, wearing the black toboggan — though it’s June — has noticed my condition. I very anxiously await his uninvited approach. His words delivered in that screechy baritone common to those who giggle at their own dog-faced Snapchats and then, in the next breath, extol the merits of TS Eliot, having read a fourth of The Wasteland.
“Bro. Do you have face-cholera? Or something?” That peach-fuzzed dweeb. I’ll sneeze on his obnoxious jeans.
When I was a child, my parents took me to the doctor once a week. There I received allergy shots, injections to quell my allergic reactions to … everything. I believe I was allergic to everything. Anything and everything that trafficked upon the wind at least, from the surface of the Earth up to the ionosphere. Pollen, pet dander, turkey vultures, air molecules, spy planes. The shots helped. At least I loved the relief they provided. Though I’d challenge anyone with this: Tease a hornet every Tuesday night, then allow it in its rage to sting you in the biceps. See if it doesn’t get old. The needles were, to my recollection, nine inches long.
Every year, come March or April, somebody tells me, “Well, you know, Chattanooga is the worst place in the country for allergies.” To which I agree without reservation, though inevitably the person who’s evinced me with this local hell-tidbit that everybody already knows begins to prove his/her point. “See, we’re down in a valley here.” (Points to Lookout Mountain, then to Signal Mountain, then finally to Missionary Ridge.) “That holds all the pollen from the (names plants that may or may not be real, typically with a varmint for an adjective. The raccoon flower, the possum tree blossom, the scrawny coyote weed.)
“And with the spring rain, well, they just grow, grow, grow.” I’m barely able to restrain a clapback. “Thanks for this information that I already know because every year my face turns into the most efficient snot factory on the face of planet Earth. Would that snot was a fossil fuel and I could install a pumpjack on my forehead and sell you what it brings to the surface as gas for your stupid F-150. You’d make me a quadrillionaire.” Though in truth, if some financier offered me one quadrillion dollars to keep my allergies, I’d personally deliver him to the gates of hell.
Medication? An antihistamine? Ha. I once showed my allergies to a bottle of Walzyrt pills. The pills pissed themselves and bolted for the hills while my allergies collapsed in laughter. Benadryl sometimes works, I will say that, though the risk is the side-effect of dead sleepiness, that condition where I might drown violently in my own snot but snooze through it.
Some people advise the daily consumption of local honey as allergic respite. A spoonful of honey a day from local bees, they say, that’ll surely do the trick. A daily spoonful of honey, these people swear, will in fact curtail all allergy attacks for the rest of your life. These people, I might add, likely suffer not a whit from their own allergies and prefer saying dumb s*** to those who suffer so greatly that they’re willing to ram their naked heads into a literal beehive upon the whiff of a promise of even ten seconds of relief. It’s only after dupes like me do something like that that we realize these honey consumption advisers are sadists, every one of them.
In the end, there is only one option. Suffer through. Which I will do, as there is truly no alternative. Pass me the Kleenex again. Or all the Starbucks napkins. Or anything made of paper really, anything at all, hurry up, here comes another sneeze.
Paul Luikart is a writer whose work has appeared in a number of places over the years. His most recent book, “Animal Heart,” is available now from Hyperborea Publishing. Follow him on Twitter. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.