Have you had the flu yet? If not let me tell you, there are so many advantages to being sick with this year’s version, I don’t know where to begin.

“For instance, if you’re married, the flu really helps strengthen that vow about sticking together “in sickness.” I mean the “in health” part of the vow isn’t even a challenge. It’s like staying together “for richer””which seems so easy we haven’t tried it yet. Being pampered by a spouse during the flu, you just can’t beat that.

Which reminds me: if they wanted to inject some real life drama into those reality-dating shows, they’d give the Bachelorette a 102 degree fever and surround her with clumps of used tissue. Talk about your “Fear Factor.”

My wife, though, showed no fear of taking care of her flu-ridden spouse. The first stage of the flu felt like icy fingers were pressing against my spine. These aren’t the good kind of chills, like you get from hearing beautiful music. No, these make you zip up your wool winter coat before climbing into bed.

Lying in bed all day wasn’t that bad. It reminded me of my dream career: becoming a mattress tester. I’ve always wanted that job and here I was doing it full-time. Although I wasn’t getting paid, and worse: my research showed that after 25 years it was definitely time to get a new

Still, I had few cares in the world. I didn’t have to worry about my wardrobe”the ratty blue bathrobe being appropriate for every occasion. I wasn’t concerned with eating: when everything smells and tastes like papier-mâché, you don’t develop  an appetite. In fact, the flu was a sure way for me to lose those pesky five pounds that were holding my pants up.

Going to work became a distant memory. I had lots of reading piled up but couldn’t even make it through the Sport Illustrated swimsuit issue. Basically, this flu allows you to lie in suspended animation, while
anticipating great moments to come, like taking your
next cold tablet.

It finally got to the point where I had to focus all my concentration on breathing. If you’ve never done this, try counting each individual breath. It doesn’t just take your mind off your illness; it raises you to a higher state of spiritual consciousness. I’m surprised I didn’t start levitating above that lumpy mattress. It helped that I was pretending to be snorkeling in the Caribbean.

Yes, I really went back to basics during the flu. I didn’t buy anything, drive a car, or incur any expenses. Being sick really helps you economize. It also helps you avoid this crappy February weather. It was nice to lie in bed, listening to the sounds of construction outside my window and think: those poor suckers have to work in this stuff, while I have two perfectly positioned pillows.

But all good things must come to an end and eventually I regained smell and taste, and had to rise from the horizontal position. I knew I was going to miss the cold medicine, the pillows and the pampering. But there’s always next year.

John Rice is a columnist/novelist who has seen his family thrive in Forest Park. He has published two books set in the village: The Ghost of Cleopatra and The Doll with the Sad Face.