Death by Hay Fever

The score this round: Nature, 1; Self-respect, 0.

I spent the Sunday before Memorial Day sneezing. All day. From waking until sunset (when a brief thunderstorm convinced the pollen to stay the fuck down on the ground), the plant crud streamed into my nostrils, causing my body to think it was under attack à la D-Day and that it needed to send the invaders back across Omaha Beach with barrages of phlegm.

Same thing happened last year. My wife and I went to her parents’ house in rural PA, their house surrounded by fields and grass and trees, all pollinating their little heads off. Then on to her grandparents’ cabin for the afternoon, after which I could write calligraphy in the yellow crap covering my car.

I spent my childhood cavorting (yes, I’m using the word “cavorting” without shame) through woods and fields and swamps, climbing over and under and through every bit of flora known to the Mid-Atlantic. No sneezing. Not a sniffle.

It is as if nature itself is shunning me, as if some biological imperative buried deep in my genes has kicked in and said, Enough is enough. You’re a grown man now. No more cavorting. No more climbing, over, under, through, or otherwise. Now you will spend your days in a sterile, air-conditioned office, several floors above the ground and many miles from anything anyone would consider nature.

Nature, this biological imperative declares, is off-limits. Enjoy.

And after 16 straight hours of sneezing, now that I’m safe again in my air-conditioned cube, part of me really doesn’t mind.

Article © 2007 by Steve Spotswood