Sick Daze

Willingly becoming ill isn’t what the doctor ordered for the holidays.

Dearest Upstate Medical University,

It is with the greatest of regrets that I must decline your generous holiday invitation to contract Dengue Fever as part of a vaccine trial aimed at protecting our brave soldiers.

Tempting though the offer is, even without the munificent $3,350 fiduciary inducement to the lucky citizenry of Central New York, my dear wife, Leigh, and I confront a plethora of conflicting engagements best attended without the distraction of chills, fever, severe headache, skin rash, diarrhea, bone pain, vomiting, mild bleeding and other seasonal delights.

A quick inquiry on the mild bleeding: Isn’t it only “mild” when it’s someone else’s blood?

Please know that this was not an easy decision. Upon receiving your beautiful, hand-crafted invitation, I initially mistook it for a December event. As such, I immediately commenced to devise a way to squeeze in a bout of Dengue amid the holiday bustle.

Unfettered elation ensued when I surmised that, should we reschedule our Christmas Cookie Bake and blow off Hanukkah altogether, we would create a tidy window in which to contract your mosquito-born scourge. Then I re-read the invitation and realized that testing isn’t expected to start until January. Confound it! Another time, perhaps?

Might I impose upon you the task of conveying my regrets to your fellow hosts. As it were, my connections to all things military are mostly tangential, limited to profound admiration from afar and rigorous avoidance to my person of danger. As such, I humbly beseech you to notify of my scheduling conundrum the U.S. Army’s Medical Research and Materiel Command, benefactor of the $12 million that will fund five clinical trials during the next three and a half years.

My lack of participation mustn’t be mistaken for lack of gratitude. Were circumstances different, I would enjoy nothing more than to spend a week with my head hanging into a sicky bucket, monitoring myself for signs that the illness might be advancing into the more serious Hemorrhagic Fever, which can damage blood vessels and organs and even promote the sweet gift of eternal repose.

Also, should the burden be not too taxing, do forward these sentiments to Rep. John M. Katko along with my congratulations for the stellar manner in which he announced the grant at a press conference last week. The congressman did precisely what a federal lawmaker is elected to do: take credit when one part of the government gives the people’s money to another part of the government.

Bully for him and for all of us who enjoy the bounty of his servitude!

As Katko professed, these clinical trials are an economic boon that is almost recession-proof. Indeed. On account of his intelligence and foresight — and yours — Central New York stands poised to reassume its rightful place as a vortex of innovation and industry … this time by paying subjects favored by Providence to contract diarrhea.

En guard, China!

I have but one other beseechment. Would you kindly alert me as to when Congressman Katko himself will be voluntarily contracting Dengue Fever so that I might issue upon his sickbed a cheering note and an assortment of soothing herbal teas?

Pray tell, I almost forgot another item! Here are the diseases (and suggested remuneration) that I am willing to contract in the name of medical research: Baldness, $5; Preorbital Dark Circles (Raccoon Eyes), $75 per eye; Chellitis (chapped lips), $150; Dandruff, $8; Destiny USAnal Warts, $8,000, tax free; Hangover, $12; Hiccups, $300; Missing Clicker Syndrome, $2,000; Selective Deafness, no charge; Sore Text Finger, $130; Trumphobia, $12,000; Voter Burnout, $600; Waterlogged Ears, $600; Ottoheimers (inability to remember names of recent Syracuse University football coaches), $90; Gigantic Johnson Disorder (GJD), $44.

Again, these sums are suggested only, although I humbly submit that they would ensure our mutual felicity. Lest there be any doubt, should I contract Dengue Fever inadvertently during my travels I will cheerfully donate to you lab-ready samples of my infected blood (and other bodily issues) as a small gesture of gratitude for your grandness of spirit.

Be well, good friend. I wish you, your fellow hosts and the many Dengue sufferers who will delight in your company the merriest of seasons!

– Jeff

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