Despite my best hygiene practices and the use of Airborne, which YES I KNOW LOST A CLASS ACTION SUIT AND IS SCIENTIFICALLY BEREFT, I have a cold. It's not (it snot?) a terrible cold, the kind where you can't even get a snirt of air through a single nostril, your head pounds and throbs, mucus flows from some never-ending sinus production well from Hell, your body aches, you cough in fits so severe as to frighten people, and you have a fever of 150. No, it isn't (isn'ot?) one of those, luckily. It's just enough to make me very tired, with a scratchy dry throat, and a somewhat-stuffed up nose that occasionally needs emptying. Just annoying enough to write about. Annoyingly.

A dual-nostril blast from the wonderful expired bottle of Afrin I hunted up late last night got me through the night OK, and I pretty much just sat, dull and immobile, on the computer most of the day. I tried to take a nap, but this tired wasn't that kind of tired, so I decided to take a bath. Yes, yes, a lovely lovely warm bubbly comforting bath. I would make the water a perfect temperature in the deep soaking tub, add some delicious fragrance, and sink down. Oh. Wait a minute. Hmm. I was really getting into the idea of feeling so enveloped in the warm, soft bathwater that I could easily imagine drifting off into Bath Dreamland, smiling like some sort of sleeping clueless happy fetus. Then I remembered that the reality of falling asleep in the tub would have one result: my face eventually hitting the now-cold bathwater, which would cause me to snort up a great quality of it into my gasping nose and mouth, which would be alarming and disgusting. So I decided to take a shower.

I remembered that we had some new crap for colds in the bathroom cabinet -- some tablets you were supposed to put at the bottom of the shower that would dissolve and act like a Vicks vaporizer. I ran the shower, opened the package, which looked too much like a urinal cake for my taste, and set it on the shower floor. It started bubbling and sending groovy blue waves of color all around my feet. It didn't really smell all that much, which was disappointing, but I think my feet will be breathing well for quite some time. The coolest thing about it was that it disappeared completely at the exact same time I finished with my shower routine: wet hair, wash hair, rinse hair, put on conditioner, wash body, rinse body, wash out conditioner, wash face. How do you time something like that? It was someone's job to figure that out -- how to make the shower tab last until the end of an average shower. OMG! I must be an average showerer! That's not good for the aquifers of the world.

While I was showering, I thought about colds, and I could only think of one I had specifically. I was in 5th grade, and that year had a MALE teacher, and he was good-looking and very bright. He took no shit from anyone, and he intimidated me, me who was never intimidated by anyone. Having not been able to whine my way into staying home that day, I sat in his class with my gross cold. The room, with the desks all aligned perfectly and his desk at the front of the room, was dead silent, because it was Dead Silent Reading Time. My nose kept running like a fountain and I kept loudly sniffing it up, because it was just too embarrassing and uncool to blow your nose in public in front of EVERYONE. I didn't even have a kleenex on me, or even more unbelievably uncool, a handkerchief, which my mother still tried to make me carry. I just kept snorting and sniffing at a ridiculous rate, trying desperately to keep the water-like mucus miracle from dripping out my nose onto my desktop. I kept looking up to the teacher, and noticed that he would look up at me and frown every so often, which just made me even more self-conscious.

As we have previously learned from the post "SNOT," you really should not not blow your nose and expect anything good to come of this behavior. As I sat in misery, the booger factory in comic overtime, out of nowhere and with no warning, I sneezed an epic sneeze. As I flung both my hands to my face to somehow try to cover this loud and obvious shame, all the sinus secretions that I had been holding back valiantly, plus a cup or two more, came blasting out of my nose and completely and utterly covered by ENTIRE FACE AND HANDS. OH GOD. I froze, hands on my face, covered in such a copious amount of clear goo that I could not figure out what to do. It was like a horrible snot bomb had blown up in my face: PFFFBPBBB! My mind raced, what, WHAT do I have to clean this up? I thought about getting a piece of notebook paper, I thought about smashing my book in my face, oh god NO. There was really only one choice.

Without daring to move my hands one tiny bit off of my face or risk drippage and further and TOTAL HUMILIATION, I did the Walk Of Shame down the aisle to my teacher's desk. It felt like it took days. His face, or what I could see through my fingers, was a mix of shock and disbelief.

"Mr. McCollum, mm I guh to th baffroom?" I muffled through my hands and snot gel.

Wide-eyed, slightly slack-jawed, he answered.

"Yes. Of course!"

"Ffank you."

I quickly walked out of the room, and to this day I cannot recall any of the reactions of my peers. I assumed I blocked that out. I went to the girls' garish red school bathroom, washed off my face and hands, dried them with a smelly brown paper towel, and sat in there until the next class period, wondering how I could ever face my teacher again, he of the curly longish brown hair and dark flashing brown eyes, and pointedly liberal political stance.

At the end of the day, he caught me alone for a minute.

"Marianne, it was OK for you to ask to be excused to go to the bathroom if you needed to go. You didn't have to wait. You can go anytime you need to. You don't have to ask if it's an emergency. It's OK."

I mumbled some kind of relieved and grateful response, and he smiled and gave me a small hug with an arm around my shoulder. As he walked away, I pulled out some of the girls' bathroom toilet paper I had stuffed in my pocket, dabbed at my nose, and decided that it was silly to be embarrassed about having a cold, and I should just blow my nose when I needed to.

So that's just what I am going to do now.