I’m surprised I’m not sick yet.
Every October since the seventh grade, I have caught some sort of illness: a cold, a flu, Streptococcus pneumoniae. At first, I didn’t mind; I thought that, like chicken pox, diseases need to spread and run their course. But in high school, someone with mononucleosis drank out of my Diet Coke without telling me.
I have learned my lesson since the High School Asshole Incident and become pleasantly more neurotic about falling ill. I can’t expect others to live healthy lives. People are stupid. College students, especially, are stupid.
So at Yale, I use a deceptively simple yet usually effective Biohazard Prevention Plan (BPP). During the first week of the month, I scope out students and figure out which ones have started to sniffle or sneeze. Then, I plan out excuses for not wanting to sit or stand within 5 meters of them — even during seminars.
With this plan, I usually stay disease-free, and last October, I was healthy for 29 days. Then, on the afternoon of the 29th day, some guy on Cross Campus coughed into my face. I was sick the next day.
When I’m healthy, I don’t sleep much — maybe three or four hours a day on certain weeks. My insomnia is such that when I disrupt it, either by getting sick or getting a full night’s rest, my body shuts down. It looks like I’ve been punched in both eyes, I have night sweats all day and I say sentences without predicates. Then I sleep three hours the next day, my dean gives an official excuse, and it’s all better.
But trying to get dean’s excuses gets annoying, you know? I had two papers to write at the end of last October, and the day I got better, I sat for 24 hours and three Red Bulls to pummel through the 450 pages of reading plus 24 pages of writing I had due (struggle!).
So I’m tweaking my BPP this year by writing this column and publicizing a set of ground rules to make sure everyone can live healthy lives on campus. It’s unclear to me why these rules aren’t obvious to every Yalie, but then again, I know seniors who didn’t know until this year how to use the Commons waffle maker.
First rule, take a shower. At least once a day. Or if you’re that English TA whom I had junior year and whose face looks like an Ivy Noodle Sesame Wonton in Hot Oil ($4.25 only!): Shower twice.
Second, do laundry every week. Dirty clothes left in the hamper can carry nasty little germs. Or dandruff. Or crabs.
Third — because I know everyone at Yale, male or female, has boat shoes — wear socks with footwear. Smelly feet means that they harbor germs! I was a city editor at the News, and one of my reporters, whom I leave anonymous but will say that he is a current managing editor, would wear boat shoes and a noxious smell would fill the room whenever he took them off.
Fuckin’ asshole (it’s called Gold Bond foot spray).
Fourth, if you feel at all under the weather, just stay in your room. I don’t give a damn if you have to hand in a problem set. I don’t care if you’re going to miss formal. I’d rather you be a sickly leper than a public cesspool.
Fifth, don’t have any human contact. With anybody. Touching spreads germs. Kissing spreads mono. Sex spreads crabs. Besides, shouldn’t you be reading Aristotle or something right now?
If everyone follows these rules, we’d have a beautiful new world order at Yale, where dozens of students don’t all of a sudden catch swine flu and have a stressful October.
As of Wednesday, I have had a clean bill of health this month. So don’t cough on me. Or drink my soda. Just don’t sit next to me — you’re gross. Yale gives you meals and rooms and shit, but it’s not going to make sure you stay in bed when you’re sick.
Still, I probably could be less of a clean-freak asshole. Following my own rules would be a good place to start.