Rick's List — Hypochondriac's Super Bowl Edition, pt. I

As a first ballot inductee in the World Hypochondriac Hall of Fame, I have been "afflicted" with dozens of critical ailments over the years. No sniffle was ever just a runny nose or even pneumonia but rather mycoplasma pneumonia. I don't even know what mycoplasma pneumonia IS but it sounds worse than just regular pneumonia. Similarly, for another example, no calf ache after a long run could ever be just a muscle pull or cramp but instead some previously unknown skeletal affliction that had turned my femur into Styrofoam.

But this ... this coronavirus!

Ladies and gentlemen, I HAVE MY SUPER BOWL!

Wow. After 65 years, I'm finally getting the opportunity to be a living, breathing somehow-still-alive hypochondriac in AN ACTUAL PANDEMIC. I'm the 2004 Red Sox of disease — except of course that the virus is very real and I'm in more than one "risk" group.

There are a lot of things I'd like to say in the present situation — including that I do take this very seriously. Humor is just MY way of coping. Might as well laugh given the reality that I just traveled on five different airplanes, visited two large cities where I a) spent a lot of time in an elderly folks' retirement community and then b) attended a large wedding in a bustling tourist port. In coronavirus terms, I was starring in my own horror show!

I am going to detail my adventures and observations in great detail — this is the first of a two-part List — but, to start, let me just share a few things.

1. That "avoid touching your face" thing wasn't working. I had my wife Eileen cover my whole head with duct tape and use a sewing needle to create eye holes and a mouth aperture too small for me to stick a finger in.

2. Remember the Sin Eater? It was a literally a job you could have in 17th-century Wales: You went around to houses where someone had just died and offered through ritual to "eat the sins" of the deceased to hasten and ease their passages to heaven. Well, given the fact that I've survived perhaps a hundred horrible illnesses throughout my years as a hypochondriac, maybe I can become a Virus Eater. I'll get back to you.

3. The hysteria at the grocery store. My solution? Just buy stuff no one else wants. Screw Purell and bread and toilet paper. Instead:

a. I found dozens of boxes of Little Debbie Zebra Cakes. I didn't even know Deb (as she asked me to call her) made Zebra Cakes. And they use only free-range zebra! We stocked up.

b. I swung by the books/periodicals aisle and picked up one each of the following real magazines: Apple Cider Vinegar, Container Gardening, Civil War, and North American Elk. I'm saving Apple Cider Vinegar for last because the cover story is by Margaret Atwood.

4. I've signed a deal with the Bell Helicopter people to design a 6-foot blade you affix to your torso and it twirls at high speed in 360-degree fashion, thereby guaranteeing no one can enter your "social distancing" zone without losing some body parts.

Next week? Part II of my report. And remember: Rick held illimitable domain over all!


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