What color is your...

“What color is the phlegm?”


“You ever drive the New Jersey Turnpike?”


“That color.”


“You ever look in the eyes of an old man as he described his never-to-be-fulfilled dreams?”


“That color.”


“You ever come across a half-deserted, economically depressed former textiles town in the foothills Appalachia?”

“How about I just check your ears and throat?”


A minute later the nurse practitioner told me I had bronchitis, a sinus infection and an ear infection. That was yesterday.

Today I was already feeling better, having pounded heavy duty antibiotics, steroids, an inhaler and Mucinex DM (stands for “Don’t Screw with Me”).

So I figured I should wash all the clothes and sheets I’d hacked on over the past week, and then sterilize my toothbrush and my plastic sleep apnea mouth guard thingee. Everyone knows you do that after you start getting over the Black Death.

I put on a pot of water, brought it to boiling, and then threw in my toothbrush and my apnea guard thingee. I set the timer for 10 minutes and went back to working from home, which is what old-timers used to call “home sick.”

The beeper beeped, I turned off the stove and fished out my toothbrush and… wait… that doesn’t look like my apnea guard thingee. That looks like a couple of translucent sea worms getting funky in the pot, all twisted up around each other…


This is why I can’t have nice expensive things (no one could call a usually spit-covered apnea guard thingee “nice,” but the point stands). That damn thing cost $700 and now it’s as useful in preventing apnea as a chunk of gravel.

I cursed and yelled at myself loud and long, to the point that the dog gave me a nervous look and retreated to her cage.

Then I picked up the twisted strings of plastic, turned them in my hand, and started yelling again. The dog whimpered. The mom next door called her kids inside.

If Stacy had made this mistake, I would have soothed her. “It’s OK. These things happen. It’s alright. Think about it big picture: that $700, spread out over the rest of our lives, is no big deal. Pennies a day. Literally. It’s OK. Let it go.”

I started yelling again, and slammed my fist on the counter. The dog ran upstairs and I heard a siren pop in the distance. OK, better get hold of myself.

It’s funny how difficult it is to forgive yourself when, in the same situation, you would tell a friend immediately, and sincerely, not to be so hard on themselves.

You messed up? It’s OK! No one’s perfect.

I messed up? HIDE THE KNIVES.

You have regrets about foolish actions in your past? Hey, that’s natural. What’s important is that these mistakes helped make you the wonderful person you are today. Just learn from them and live on.

I have regrets? That’s because I spent most of my life as either an idiot or an asshole or both and I deserve to lay awake at night ruminating about my screw ups for the rest of my natural life and then some.

What’s up with that? Why can’t we love ourselves as we love our neighbors?

Oh, I called my dentist later in the day after tearing my hair out (I’m bald, so you can imagine how painful that was). He suggested heating the apnea guard thingee and seeing if I could remold it around my teeth.

It worked. It’s all fine now.

It’s all fine.