Forget Modern Medicine: when you’re really suffering, thank god for Tea and Television.

Before discarding even one New Year’s Health Resolution, I wrung in 2009 with a Nasty Cold. It left me checked-in to Hotel Sofa, demanding room-service tea ’round the clock, and watching entire back-to-back seasons of Top Chef, True Blood, Entourage, and other art-house offerings. Never have my three TiVos felt such a workout burn (OK, OK, so technically we have FOUR – but don’t tell my Sponsor).

This booger of a germ (be kind, I’m still on medication) was so bad that even before Dick Clark had dropped his ball, I had blown through all our glittery holiday kleenex and was deep into Costco Country. FINALLY I understand their bulk packaging.

remotes and cup of teaSo, while the rest of the world had chucked their trees and gone back to Special K, my near-death status meant our fridge was still stuffed with wilting Fa-La-La: ham, olives, pie, brie, cheese ball (did I give you my kick-ass cranberry-encrusted recipe?), and vineyards of champagne. But, despite all this bounty, I only had eyes for Campbell’s Chicken Noodle and cup after endless cup of hot, steamy black TEA. Milky beige and sweet sweet sweet – like the way my mom made it when I was just a wee snot, out sick from school, surviving on Captain Kangaroo – long before remote controls walked the earth.

In My Life Before The Plague, the holidays were going pretty well. My mom was surprised to unwrap her Yodeling Goat, my dad only ballooned up to 134 pounds (o happy day), and I didn’t get a single clothing gift (Hallelujah!). When you wear baggy sweatshirts and jeans all the time, WHY OH WHY does your family think you are secretly craving frilly little tops in molecular sizes that only Harrison would dare give Calista? Doesn’t this qualify as a Hate Crime under the new 2009 California state laws? I’m sure I heard Arnold explain this to Whoopi on The View: “Fat is da new Gay – and da obesity and da couch potatas and stuff like dat”.

Besides successful giftage, our vomitous cat was also on unseasonably good behavior; politely waiting until after our annual family gathering to snack on some red wreath berries and then Jackson Pollock the carpets. Spectacular as it was, I still long for her days as a minimalist.

But in truth, the egg first began teetering off the nog way back on Christmas Eve, when my daughter (Vector Zero) announced she had shot through all the decongestants she’d brought home from college and wondered if we could buy more on the way home. Oh sure. Why not? How hard could it be to find an open drugstore at 11:30 pm on Christmas Eve? Rudolph came through for Santa, Joseph and Mary found a manger just by following a star – surely our GPS could help us find Pseudoephedrine Sulfate!

“Rite-Aid with your sign so bright, won’t you dry my snot tonight…”

Now, before I continue, I want you to know that we live in a very nice part of Los Angeles. Celebrity Nice. Good Real Estate Nice. Tom Hanks even buys ice cream at our Gelson’s – okay, so I only saw him once, from a distance, but, for example, it is so nice here that some of us still send our kids to public school (our only police blotter event involved a swiss army knife brandished during Varsity Polo). So you’ll be just as surprised as I was to discover that our very nice local 24-hour CVS pharmacy was closed when we drove up…DUE TO A ROBBERY IN PROGRESS!!!!

We had just parked the car near the door, next to a rusty Ford Pinto that had straddled two spots and whose choppy motor was idling strangely (it was so not a hybrid), when a nicely dressed lady (Rita Wilson?) ran past and told us The Exciting News.

As we strategically Fled The Scene – choosing a different direction than the rubber-burning Pinto (“Sirens we have heard on high…”), from the infectious back seat came “How aboud da Ride-Aid nexd to da ped stohe”? Bless my plucky, pill-popping daughter for keeping us on task. If only she applied that energy to keeping her meds in stock. Perhaps private school would have been better…

By the time we found the store and parked, it was technically Christmas Day, which explains what we saw. Santa was lying by the front door, gleefully soliciting contributions to an unnamed fund and gummily offering to carol for us. Inside, the aisles were teeming with tattooed shoppers whose carts were jam-packed with candy canes, eggnog, vodka, Jack Daniels, wrapping paper, lights, toys, and, in one inspiring basket, an entire aluminum tree – fully decorated. What had taken me weeks, these happy revelers were about to achieve in JUST ONE SHOPPING TRIP. Why had I not learned this on Oprah?

Still in awe, but determined to find cold medicine, I stumbled past a naked My Size Barbie, flocked with snow and joyfully brandishing a 6-pack. She was no Dancing Chicken, but I made a mental note for next Christmas.

OH OH OH! The snow reminds me of my FAVORITE joke: What’s green and wears ice skates?
Wait for it, wait for it…Peggy Phlegm!

But anyway, back to Rite-Aid: once I found the Analgesics Aisle, I was dismayed to discover that my favorite sinus remedy was not there.

tea cups and Campbells soup“WHAT – no Drixoral?!” I exclaimed. That life-saving cocktail of decongestant and antihistamine that got me through college, motherhood, and a career?! The man next to me, who was filling his cart with holiday cheer in the form of cough syrup, looked over.

“Yeah man, the FDA finally cracked down. I had to order mine on-line from Canada – but it does make the BEST meth”!

No Drixoral… Did the FDA have it in for flu-sufferers? Who could possibly make meth while they were sneezing – or is that just a problem for Cocaine distributors? And does this also explain why Mother’s cookies disappeared? I thought the National War on Obesity was just conducting a surge. Clearly, I would have to pay more attention to The Today Show.

Out-smarted by The Feds, we trudged out in defeat, armed only with a box of Lipton’s Tea and some lame-ass Sudafed. Some of Santa’s elves had discovered our car, but they shyly ran off before we could properly greet them.

Update: The cold is gone, I have burned the sofa, and my drugs are being delivered by carrier moose. But now my sister needs help. Seems that last week, out power-walking, she was googling “Pinkberry” on her iPhone and ran smack-dab into a two-by-four. Two chai kiwi yogurts, one CAT scan, and an MRI later, her pupils are still unevenly dilated and her neurologist told her to take it easy – so, of course, she’s switched to Activia and she’s only working out three days a week on the elliptical machine…

Anyone know a good tea for bleeding of the frontal lobe…?