I Had a Cold and I Made a Mistake

I am bad at drugs. Generally, my body’s reaction to medication is about as predictable as Charlie Sheen on bath salts, and I tend to experience side effects that are “atypical” or “uncommon” or “you have better odds of convincing Obama to babysit your cat than getting loopy from this medication, which is why you will be surprised when you burst into uncontrollable laughter on the train because you thought about penguins and then laugh even harder when the lady sitting next to you gets up and moves across the car.” When I got my wisdom teeth out, the anesthesia caused me to call my oral surgeon a “loser” because of his regrettable fashion choice of purple scrubs, which I’m sure he was wearing to impress moody college students who think wearing Chuck Taylors to a club makes them edgy and emphatically profess that emo will never die to anyone who will listen, and when I had complications post-surgery and had to return to his office several times for follow-up appointments, I was overwhelmed with embarrassment because, despite being higher than The Grateful Dead at a sleepover, I not only remembered making fun of him, but I was, at the time, also rather proud of my transcendently clever dig. “I’m a drooling, stoned moron who keeps choking on gauze. But you’re wearing clothes. Gotcha!” I’m sure he was devastated.

Last week, I came down with a cold, and after spending several hours at my desk alternately sweating through my t-shirt and gluing business cards to myself to stave off chills, I decided to look to the break room medicine cabinet for some relief. There I found a packet of pills mysteriously labeled “Cold Medicine,” which I immediately took without further thought. This did seem to help some, and I was feeling much better by the time my coworkers were ready to leave for poker night, where I lost spectacularly at the Kids Table, which was where those of us with the bluffing skills of a five year old who definitely cleaned his room were relegated to play. As my boyfriend and I were getting ready to leave, I started feeling a little strange and asked him to drive home. We arrived at our apartment, I threw my coat on the floor (which he totally loves), and then collapsed onto the couch.

“Brian?” I said softly.


“Why is the floor moving?”

“It’s not, babe.”

“Then why does it look like it’s moving?”

And so it was. The floorboards were twisting and shifting like a kaleidoscope, and I turned wide-eyed to Brian.

“Time for bed,” he said.

I laid down in bed and tried to relax, but as I looked around the room, I locked eyes with the blazing fire-lion glaring down at me from the ceiling. Shit, it can see me. Be cool, Kate. Just be cool. I tried to distract myself. Oh look, there’s that sock I lost. I should probably do laundry soon. Looks like someone got pulled over. There’s the radiator, and the lamp, and the giant lion face with blaring red eyes hovering over me like some Dante/Rob Zombie collab, and oh, now it’s a demon. A big ole scary demon just swirling around and oh my god, it can read my thoughts. Think nothing, Katie. Clear your mind. Pretend you’re on a date with that clairvoyant Catholic Scientologist again. The one who kept taking pictures of you while you were slamming your beer like the world was going to end and trying to get the check while he was distracted with trying to read your mind. Empty your head. No, no, wait, you need to banish him. Begone with you, beast! Return to the fiery throes from whence you came. It’s not working. This is exhausting. I would sell my soul to… no! No, I didn’t mean that. You just back off my soul, dementor. I’m not giving it up until I’m damn well ready, or at least until I get a 300 in Wii Bowling. I’ve put hours into trying to beat that game and I really can’t consent to give up the ghost until I get that final sticker. Also, I’ve still never tried Cookie Crisp, so I’ve really got a lot to live for. You know what, I’ll just look over here, at the door. Oh, cute, a dog. What are you doing here, little guy? I don’t have a dog. You’re so… how is your neck turning like that? Why is your head is upside down? You’re in league with the demon, aren’t you? Who is opening his mouth to presumably swallow me into the pits of hell. Is this because of that time I stole a coaster from that Irish bar? It was a cool coaster, and I was kind of drunk… you know what, I’ll bring it back. I’ll bring it back first thing in the morning. I just need a couple days off work and a plane ticket to Ireland. I would do it now, but I’m already in my pj’s and my bank account could be confused with a McDonald’s receipt and also I think I might be tripping. That’s it, back off me, demon! Begone, I say! “Briiiiiiiiiiaaaaaaan….’”

“What’s up, babe?”

“The ceiling demon is scaring me.”

“Just ignore him, Kate, he’s all talk.”


And then I fell asleep.

The next morning, I awoke to find Brian drinking coffee on the couch.

“How much cold medicine did you take yesterday?”

“Just one dose,” I said.

He looked at me and chuckled. “You should never do acid.”