There was a time when the first sign of spring was a robin winging its way from tree to tree in your backyard. Or perhaps it was a flower pushing its way through the crackling ice, or the first sign of spring was someone snowblowing their driveway wearing cargo shorts and a raincoat.
For a large segment of the population, and unfortunately I am a member of the segment, the first sign of spring is a runny nose.
Allergies stink. No, let’s not waste time being polite. Allergies suck. They’re just bad. They’re like a cat that decides to add incontinence to the unending list of things it does in order to annoy the rest of the household.
For many of us, spring announces itself with bouts of sneezing, followed by watery eyes and then a full-blown mass evacuation of the sinuses. It’s as if my nose has been in hibernation for the past six months and all has been restful and sleepy. Then spring comes along and all that grotesque stuff has to leave the den of my nose in order to forage for berries and sinus medicine.
There’s a genetic side to this as well. My youngest has a spring nose that drains so badly that we had to make a whole new entry in the family budget just for Kleenex, and for the first few months of spring the smell of menthol cough drops permeates the end of the couch where he parks himself. I still cringe when he blows his nose and we hear him remark, “Wow, will you look at that.”
When my mother-in-law runs afoul of allergies, she releases explosive sneezes at random moments all day and night. With most folks, you have a warning before they sneeze. The nose wrinkles and the victim starts to talk in a staccato rising tone that’s almost like a countdown to the explosion.
Not my mother-in-law, though. She is the only person I have ever met who can sneeze in her sleep.
It wouldn’t be so bad except that I hate every aspect of allergies. I dislike a runny nose. I abhor adding unending handfuls of tissue to our already overfilled landfills. Based on the amount of wadded tissues, discarded sinus medicine packaging, and cough drop wrappers, you’d think we were a kindergarten class of snotty chuckle-headed kids whose parents sent us to school because they were just too tired of dealing with the sheer grodiness of infinite runny noses.
So as I write this, I’m reaching out for Kleenex or Puffs by the double handful. My head is pounding, my throat is scratchy, and my body lacks the moral decency to run a fever so I could at least call into work sick.
Nope, allergies are the worst. It’s like someone promising you a beautiful spring after a long hard winter and then just smacked you in the face because they thought it was funny.
When I was young, allergies never bothered me. The condition came on in my 20s, and it seems to only worsen with age.
I’d bet money that something other than a massive heart attack or a burst blood vessel in my brain will cause my death. Judging by how my sinuses seem to worsen with age, I think I will probably die in the spring, and when the EMTs arrive at my house and see my allergy-ravaged body, they will say, “Ewwww, that’s just gross.”
Andrew Birden is the general manager for Northeast Publishing, a division of the Bangor Daily News. People can reach Andrew at email@example.com.