I am sneezing in between paragraphs, coughing at the completion of each sentence and wiping my bloodshot eyes as I proofread this column. I see no need to visit the doctor, for I know this horrible cold will pass.
The symptoms always dissipate approximately one week after I have attended a wedding.
I don't know what it is about an event that bonds two people in holy matrimony, but I always end up sick after partaking in one...and that includes my own. A mere two days after saying, "I do" to the love of my life, the "sickness" of "in sickness and health" took center stage as I spent the next seven days sneezing and expelling phlegm off a Hawaiian balcony. My bride was sympathetic to my plight, collecting tissues and making trips to the gift shop for cold medicine, but I think that's only because, in 1993, iPhones and mobile apps were a mere glint in Steve Jobs' eye. Otherwise, she would have been perfectly content to play Candy Crush and eat macadamia nuts on the beach until I felt better.
I've even caught summer wedding colds, an illness that garners no sympathy. Tell someone in January that you are suffering from nasal distress and they will offer chicken soup, babysitting services and maybe even a willingness to take your shift driving the weekly car pool. Do the same thing in August and you come off as Wimp #1.
Maybe it's all that hugging, touching and kissing that goes on during a wedding reception, particularly in the receiving line. A recent study in the biomedical journal Microbiome concluded that 80 million bacteria are transferred during a kiss. It should be noted that the subjects in this study kissed for 10 seconds, an inordinate -- and creepy -- length of time in a receiving line. Furthermore, the subjects touched tongues. Again, creepy, even if you are an ex who is still on friendly terms with your now married former soulmate.
But even a one second peck for the bride and, possibly, her mother must generate some nasty bacteria. How else to explain my post-wedding acute viral rhinopharyngitis? (Note: Using the scientific name can make you sound like less of a wimp).
Who knows? Maybe I touched an already contaminated individual in the obligatory wedding conga line that snaked through the banquet hall. Or picked up something on the dance floor -- and by that I mean the floor itself -- when I was one of a hundred or so revelers writhing on the hardwood during the "a little bit softer now, a little bit softer now" portion of Shout. Or didn't realize I was in line behind the guest who fondles every puff pastry on the hors d'oeuvre tray before choosing one.
Whatever the cause, I need to pinpoint it quick because it won't be long before weddings make up the bulk of my social life. We all know wedding invitations come in spurts; they begin in your 20s as your high school and college friends take the marital plunge. When children enter the picture, the invites cease, save for those on their second or third go-round. But, in the blink of an eye, your friends' kids become adults, find their partners and walk down the aisle. It's just a shame my immune system can't keep up with the increasing number of celebrations I'll soon be attending.
How come I never see hand sanitizer or spray at a wedding? I can't walk 10 feet through an airport, health club or office building without constantly being reminded that disease is lurking throughout and I should take proper precautions. A bottle of Purell next to the guest book could do wonders for my future health.
Perhaps I should start bringing my own line of defense. Donning a surgical mask while waiting to greet the bride and groom may be overdoing it but some antibacterial wipes in my suit pocket should do the trick.
They'll come in handy when, instead of kissing the bride, I offer a congratulatory, 10-second fist bump.
(c) 2014 GREG SCHWEM. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC