I take pride in small accomplishments. For example, I have always been proud that I could take any medicine, no matter how awful, without complaining. This is an extension of my greater power of liking, or at least tolerating, almost any food taste. It’s a gift. Recently, I met my match.
The other day, I felt a possible cold coming on, and started looking through the drawer where we keep all our meds, to see if we had one of those cold preventive pills, with the zinc in them. I recalled reading that they work. And placebo or not, they seemed to work for me in the past.
I found in the drawer a type of medicine my wife had purchased that I hadn’t seen before. It was a chewable pill, about the size of a very thick quarter. It would take some time to work through it, but it was no obstacle to the man who could take any medicine. I popped it in my mouth and started working.
At first it was pleasant, citrus-like. But the flavor just kept coming. It went from mild to strong in about ten seconds. By half a minute, it was so intense my eyes were watering, and I had only chewed about 10% of this pill. I started to worry.
A minute into it, it was so intense I thought I was going to puke, literally. I ran to the kitchen sink to spit it out, but gave it a few more seconds to see if I could get through it. No medicine had beaten me yet, and I wasn’t going to go down easy. The waves of nausea blew over me, and I knew one of them was going to put me over the edge. It was time to bail. I spit the rest of the pill into the sink, defeated.
Later, I blamed it on having just brushed my teeth. You know how sometimes particular foods are awful if you just brushed? I figured that was the problem. So the next day, determined, I took another run at it. This time I made sure I hadn’t brushed in the past hour. It started out better, I thought, but it ended with me slumped over the bathroom sink, eyes watering, trying to suppress the retching. I gazed at the half eaten pill dissolving in the drain, beaten. It was a lonely feeling.
I mentioned this defeat to my wife, Shelly. She informed me that the pills aren’t actually pills at all. They are designed to be dissolved in a tall glass of water, like Alka Seltzer.
I worry that this event undercut the aura of infallibility I have been cultivating in my marriage.