My sinuses itch as if a wooly worm nested itself behind my left tonsil and kneaded itself over and over between my ear and tonsil. It’s restless, never quite comfortable enough, but it seems to think that if it just kept rolling around and rubbing it’s prickly hairs against my tender pink throat it will make a cozy home.
All this time I rub my thick back tongue against my tonsil while rubbing and tugging on my ear. Digging in my ear doesn’t get it, rubbing my ear against my head doesn’t quite get it. My tongue massage only aggravates the wooly worm and intensifies the itchiness. What on earth can I do to protect my sanity and prevent any crazy outbursts of psychotic rage? the dogs sleep soundly and I must remember the rule, “Let sleeping dogs lie.”
Beer helps, but big sailor swashes of beer feels best. A bottle doesn’t last long that way.
Cheese. Cheese on those thick salty woven wheat crackers, the ones that look like small haystacks presses into a flat dense square, feel amazing! Of course dinner sits waiting for proper preparation though, and spoiling my dinner on cheese and crackers just to temporarily soothe this pain just isn’t logical.
So I dig at what squooshy ear wax I find in my ear, like I’m excavating for precious ear resources deep deep into that narrow hot canal, and rub my sinuses into raw painful torture chambers.
A yawn! Oh that yawn opened my ear to the heavens! And then Hellish lava bubbles back into my ear again. Damn!
Perhaps if I try some kind of Jedi mind trick on myself I could fool my brain into dismissing this stupid annoying ailment, and therefore, the stupid wooly worm invasion would cease to exist, right?
This requires sending my thoughts to a happy place. Where could my mind wander safely to seek peaceful, soothing, healing bliss? As a Wisconsinite my first inclination is to go to a land of beer and cheese, stroll into a cleaner more romantic version of the Bayside tavern in Fish Creek, a place more like Cheers in Boston, and sit down to a hand-carved backed wooden bar stool and order myself a pint of whatever local India Pale Ale is on tap and a basket of deep-fried cheese curds. And yes, for medicinal purposes, with a side of ranch dressing to help put out the fire in my throat. Oh right, but I have no fire in my throat, and I can eat as much fatty salty food I wish, washed down with the best of micro-brewed beers, without gaining a pound or cultivating acne. Ah yes, and what makes this happy place even better, and that beer taste even more refreshing, is the idea that I just arrived in town after completing the Appalachian Trail. My sun and wind weathered face beams with delight to see old friends taking their usual places a the bar, with the ever-so-charming bartender glad to see an old friend again too. ANd we toast. And we share stories and gossip and dance like gypsies to the same old songs on the juke box that bored us before. Everything is different are an adventure. People and food taste sweeter.
Whiskey, no scotch, ends the meal and begins the deeper darker tales of the real life. Peter awaits word from his agent on a book deal but he aches over a woman he could never love enough so the book deal means nothing. Joel built a small sailboat and also just arrived from a small adventure, taking his hand-crafted love on a small voyage through some Great Lakes and back. He beams from ear to ear that what little went wrong he easily fixed, and just added meat and dram to the tale. He won’t be able to eat fish for some time, or just-add-water-hummus, and I toast to the hummus part. Fish now sounds amazing. And Tommy just giggles and holds his small flat tummy, looking like a teenager drinking without his parents permission. Eliot takes enormous pride in clever precise jabs and zingers in response to every third sentence of everyone’s tall tales, and it wouldn’t be right otherwise, especially since he keeps buying the next round and stokes the fire in our bellies to tell more.
Dave sits modest and handsome, thin from the trails journey, and filled with the warmth of good old friends chuckling and yuk-yukking again. But who he missed the most was his buddy Charlie, the partner-in-crime, his artist comrade and art school veteran. So since this is my happy place, Charlie walks casually into the pub wearing his glee thinly veiled with theatrical knowledge his presence actually means something. The cheers escalate to joyful roars of happiness. Everyone loves Charlie, and a Charlie sighting is like discovering a leprechaun. Once you find him you can’t believe it at first, and then you want to make sure he’ll never ever leave again, knowing deep in your heart his visit is short but intense, you soak it up.
And there it is, magically the wooly worm yawns himself into boredom and moves out. My throat relaxes to a normal state, my left ear managed to survive without bleeding a drop, and all I want now is to try to make that happy place fantasy a reality, Appalachian trail, beer, cheese, friends, and scotch included.