Toward the end of our first week, Rachel and I were sneezing, dizzy, exhausted, light-headed, almost fainting, lacking jet fuel, and coughing up sea-green mucus.
“The Paris Flu,” expats said. A persistent chest cold caused by French germs. “Everyone gets it,” I was told over a drink in Beaubourg, by an editor at the Herald Tribune, a friend of a friend.
– Rosecrans Baldwin, from“Paris, I Love You, But You’re Getting Me Down.”
We’ve got it. We’ve still got it. It won’t go away. Every time we think, okay, this has passed, or passed enough to justify a promenade, we’ll go out, then boom, we’ll be back where we started. Our chests are like fetid marshes. We’re all cooped up in this apartment with no non-French TV, coughing, sneezing, honking into Kleenexes, and being completely miserable. This is, what, day five? No improvement. We missed church today, and are missing the first sunny day Paris has had in a week or so. We’ve got stuff from the parapharmacie — Clarix expectorant, my foul-tasting friend! — but I tell you, when you’re sick like this, you long for your own bed.
I know, I know. First World Problems. Still.
Some good friends of mine acquired dysentery once traveling through India. I cannot imagine that. I function well in foreign places as long as I’m in good health. When I get sick, even with a relatively minor sickness, like the Paris Flu, I’m no good. If I had dysentery? In India? Lord have mercy.
I hold this Puritanical superstition that tells me falling sick with the Paris Flu is God’s way of punishing us for having such a good time till now. The wages of confiture is Clarix. Something like that.