Cure for Pain

No273 13 Oct 2009 SneezeIt begins at about 8 o’clock on Thursday evening. The coughing, that is. It creeps up the back of my throat, into my temples and ears. By midnight I am a wreck. I am drooling, sniffling and coughing. These attractive qualities are compounded by the even more endearing wheezing, groaning and hacking.

Friday, I call off work and curl into a fetal position on my bed. I try to read but my eyes are watering in counterpoint. Moreover, breathing through my mouth makes me sound like I’m on the business end of an obscene phone call.

I top this all off with the manly plea – “I want my mommy!”

The cat leaves the room in disgust.

I know a cold has to run its course. Rationality, however, is a well man’s leisure. So I decide to take the bull by the horns and attack my cold with the one tool I have. The tool which any desperate, angry person goes to in order to research illnesses with hopeless cures and glorious, mucus-filled bravado.

The Internet!

Since I am already miserable, I figure it might be fun to make things adventurous. So I focus my search on international cures for the common cold.

The number one “cure” mentioned on several websites is chicken noodle soup, or “Jewish Penicillin” on some sites. I abandon this because it didn’t work when I was ten and it offers all the adventure of a dating site for eunuchs.

Traditional Chinese medicine calls for a lizard soup. This involves yams, medlar and snapping off the head and limbs of a lizard and throwing it in a soup. I am not morally opposed to this or grossed out, but I don’t have access to lizards, I don’t like yams and I don’t have any clue what medlar is.


The next one is called the “stinky things” cure of Colombia. This entails periodically snorting a cloth bag of crushed garlic, diced bay leaves and nutmeg.

I have most these ingredients and give it a try.


What happens seconds after inhaling this combo from a makeshift bag (toilet paper and tape) can best be described as sneezploding.

At this point, the B Monster has abandoned her hopes for a quiet day of napping. She revolts by attacking my Achilles tendon every time I walk by her one of her many hiding spots.

After this episode, I consider what the “cure” really is all about. The best that I can imagine is that they have some old wives’ tale attached to them. It’s not hard to imagine that sneezploding could clear out the sinuses…and most of your frontal lobe. However, my theory is that these curatives are meant to make the cold sufferer feel a lot worse, thereby making his condition seem not so bad after all.

This all saddens me until I realize something magnificent: I live in the Czech Republic and surely one of the greatest aspects of living in the Czech Republic is the root of their home remedies is alcohol.

Becherovka is the spirit of choice to attack a stomach-ache. Pilsner is recommended at home and by doctors to help with heartburn and to promote healthy kidneys. I am sure there is a spirit that is good for a healthy liver. It doesn’t matter, I would endorse it.

For a cold and a sore throat, the spirit you need to turn to is slivovice. This plum brandy is sharp and packs a hell of a wallop. Most of the Czechs I know have a relative who makes it in their backyard. It is, basically, Czech moonshine. But it is delicious and has the added benefit of making the drinker see through time.

Needless to say, I am at the local shop fifteen minutes after this revelation. I then take several shots of this medical curative throughout the evening. By the time I get to bed, I feel great. I have also discovered a new flavor of butter, solved the Black Dahlia murder and written a play based on the life of a disgruntled ESL teacher titled: You Call That a Dangling Participle? There is some crying, but I figure that goes along with curing the cold demons.

Saturday morning, I have all the symptoms from the day before plus a throbbing head, dry mouth and an upset stomach. My play about ESL life is not as brilliant as I hoped (third act problems). The cat has uprooted the contents of her litter box in rebellion for something I must have said.

In the end I decide that slivovice doesn’t cure colds, it just cures sobriety. I should have stuck with the stinky things and the sneezeploding.

  1. #1 by leslie on September 29, 2011 - 6:12 pm

    I once made Dale drink a concoction of boiled garlic, cayenne, and maybe turmeric because a fellow Mexer said it was a great cold remedy. Ten years later I can still see the anger in his eyes.

  2. #2 by Damien Galeone on September 29, 2011 - 6:19 pm

    Les, I’ll be honest, if you told me to drink squirrel urine I’d grab a straw and send my self respect to Rio for the weekend.

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