I hate getting sick; mainly because it happens so rarely these days I forget how draining it is. After teaching elementary school for so long, with little kids smearing germs on my bare hands right and left, my immune system is made out of steel. Getting sick at this point in my life isn't so much a biological battle with disease, as it is my inner conscience acting without my input or permission. I will sometimes go weeks without taking a night off from the sauce, so every now and then—when I refuse to be a responsible adult and give my kidneys a night off—my immune system will pull the rug out from underneath me and teach me a lesson. "You're not going to give your liver the vacation it needs? Fine, we'll take care of that!" it says in bold defiance of my wishes. Then—presto!—I'm sick. The problem with pulling a little stunt like this during busy December, however, is that my immune system also understands I'm needed at work, so it's torn between physical and financial security. It let's me off the hook—until January 1st, that is.
I got home from work on December 31st, the last day of the holiday season, ready to pop a bottle of Champagne and celebrate the end of another successful year at K&L. I was primed to rage; to really get a heat on, until my immune system scoffed and said, "Are you fucking kidding me? You've been boozing it up like Caligula all month long, you jerk! We need a break, buddy, and we're taking it now." And just like that—poof!—I felt the tickle in my throat.
"Uh oh," I mumbled. "I think I need to go lay down."
"You're going to bed at nine on New Year's Eve?!" my wife asked, shocked and incredulous.
It was a good thing I did, however, because I have been holed up under a blanket ever since; sicker than shit. The thing I really hate about being sick is not being able to drink. I love drinking. It's my job, my love, and my life. When you take it away from me I'm forced to drink things like tea or juice, which can be interesting and delicious in their own right, but not in the same way as booze. I've never been much of a Hot Toddy person, but I decided to make one last night after deciding that being sick didn't mean I couldn't drink, it just meant I was limited to a specific genre of drinks: sick drinks. I grabbed my bottle of 1996 Giboin Fins Bois Cognac, a bit of honey from the fridge, and a lemon from the tree out front. I boiled some water, threw all four components into a mug, and sat on the couch watching some Werner Herzog documentary about life in Siberia; the heat from the mug warming my hands; the balance of sweet, sour, hot, and boozy goodness mellowing the stuffiness in my head.
Once again, I realized that drinking well is just a matter of understanding your situation and your condition. Let the moment dictate the drink and receive it with an open mind (and mouth). Go with the flow, and let the good things in life come to you. Because they will. Hot Toddies are delicious. I'm going to have one again in a few minutes.