A lighthearted look at news, events, culture and everyday life in New York.

By Nina Pajak

Sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes the bear eats you.

Or, in my case, sometimes you do everything to avoid catching the germs of all the gross, germy strangers you’re jammed into every day, and sometimes the germs catch . . . the germy strangers avoid . . . sometimes you fail. Let’s stick with the first one.

Last week, the universe beat me. Or, someone put a hex on me. Or something. I lost. I was vanquished. For an entire week, I was knocked out of commission by a vicious summer superbug which seemed to cycle through every single set of icky symptoms known to viruskind. It made me realize two things. The first is that I need to find a new doctor. And by doctor, I mean one of a stable of nervous and unattended Physician’s Assistant students. This time the guy who tried to take my blood pressure had to do it twice and came up with, “uh, 110 over . . . um, like, 73 or so? Is that what you usually get?” Stuck in an examination room with me waiting for the actual PA to show up (no doctor, of course, would ever stoop to help), he anxiously took the longest and most thorough intake report any physician has ever taken for someone who came in complaining of a “sore throat.” I let him question me regarding the status of all of my vital systems and organs and whatnot, I indulged in a brief history of my gene pool’s medical weaknesses, but when he started inquiring as to my last menstrual period (which was very difficult for him to say out loud), I had a feeling the conversation wasn’t going in a productive direction. Sore throat. I had a sore throat. Eyes up here, buddy.

The second is, there is no amount of antibacterial spray in the world that can change the course of one’s destiny. I tried several times to get up and at ’em, only to be knocked down by another unexpected affliction or infection. When I awoke on Friday feeling much improved, only to discover that one of my eyes was swollen shut, I determined that it was time to give up. And what do you know? It was Friday the 13th. I don’t know about you, but I don’t necessarily believe in coincidences. At least, not the kind that make me feel as though I’m the butt of this week’s cruel joke. I know when to throw in the towel and admit I’m beat. I got beat. Beaten down, far down into the depths of my sofa, with which I very nearly fused after a week of uninterrupted sitting. I guess it’s important every so often to recognize how powerless one is to the larger forces out there. I got humbled. I’ve learned my lesson, universe. You can move onto the next guy.

(But just in case, I’ve stocked up on all the Purell Duane Reade had to offer. One must hedge one’s bets.)


Dear Readers: While I am rarely at a loss for words, I’m always grateful for column ideas. Please feel free to e-mail me your suggestions.

Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.

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