BLAH! FOOEY! Yech! Yuk! Ick! Ugh! Snort! Sniff (sniffle)! Whine. Whimper. LOW . . . down . . . Bummmmmmmmmer.
Sounds and symptoms of The Blahs.
The Blahs don't kill; but they debilitate, weighing the most vivacious, gregarious souls down in gloom and torpor. The Blahs. An affliction for which doctors and sagres have yet to find a cure. The Blahs may creep up slowly; more likely, they skulk about dark alleys, lying in wait to pounce. They strike without warning. No one escapes.
For the flu, you can take aspirin and go to bed. For acid indigestion, there are Tums. For gluttony, Alka-Seltzer and sweet guilt. But what can you do if you're burning up with cabin fever (brother of The Blahs), the snow has socked in four wheels like the police boot and you're going nowhere? You want OUT of the house, but there's no way.
OR WHAT IF, Out There, through the window, you see rain and sleet slicing down like a million poison darts, the world looks like so many black Sundays? What if you wnat to stay put? How do you knock out a malady for which there's no prescription? What can you do at home to beat The Blashs?
ALL KINDS of things. Go out and scribble in the snow bow Blah you feel. Call all your friends and find out if they feel as Blah as you. Cross out all those Blah names from the old address book and transfer the rest into a new one.
Make lists. List friends you would give presents to if you could afford it. List birthdays you want to remember. List home improvements you need. List selfimprovements you're going to make. List Blah pals you're going to have over for an Armageddon party - when everyone feels so Blah that The End seems just around the corner.
Remind yourself how popular you used to be; reread old love letters. List your sterling qualities. Everyone still loves ya, baby.
Shake The Blahs by applying for that plum of a government job. Fill out that horribly Blah 171 form. Try on your summer clothes. Clean out the drawers.
To beat The Blahs you must meet the enemy straight on. Here's some strategy for The Battle of The Blahs:
REMIND YOURSELF how well-read you are. Rearrange your books. In categories. Weed out work books from current reading. Cull books you want to read from the should-read from books that just look classy on a shelf. Put practical books together. Lump books that are bound to strengthen moral fiber and instill confidence. "Walden Pond" next to "Conquest of Happiness" next to "Looking Out of No. 1" next to "Your Erroneous Zones," etc.
Build a bookshelf to put them on.
Get your bills out and reclassify. Do your income tax early. Rehang pictures. Try them out on different walls. Paint your bathroom purple.
Start an exercise regime and swear you're going to do it everyday. (Even if you know you're lying, The Blahs don't.) Get down on your hands and do 10 pushups. Now! Tuck those feet under the couch and whip off 25 situps. Or, if you need inspiration, hire an exercise bike ($20 a month) from A-1 Rental of Annandale (941-3520).
Or just move the furniture around. Giving your Blah place a new look can be good cheap exercise for the homebound.
Sophisticated couples beat The Blahs with a nap. The Blah-prone find 4 o'clock a fine time for afternoon delights. Try something new.
CLEAN OUT the basement, the attic, the closets. For rubbish, look in the Yellow Pages under Garbage Removal. A number of firms will send a truck right out for a small fee. (Rubber-removal firms are forever going out of business, so shop around and compare prices.) Goodwill Industries will send a truck out to pick up old clothes and used furniture. (Call early in the day: 635-9200 for the District and Maryland suburbs, 549-5005 for Virginia.) Stick around and get your receipt - thest Blahs are tax-deductible.
Get rid of those stacks of old newspapers, before they topple over and kill someone - a fate that actually befell a Long Island woman just before Christmas. Prince George's Scrap (474-3444) and Rockville Paper Recycling (638-5050) will pay $1.50 for 100-pound bundles; unless you have a ton or more, you deliver.
Sand and wax the floors. Steam off old wallpaper, shampoo the rug, unclog the drains. You can rent instruments to do your bidding; American Rental on Columbia Pike (256-3700) is among the firms claiming to stock such tools.
DO SOME homebound window-shopping. Get estimates for everything. Call a rug merchant for a wall-to-wall estimate, an exterminator for the cost of de-roaching, an insulation specialist for a price on padding your attic. Call in a locksmith to change your locks; bask in the warm glow of security. Some estimators will rush right over.
Ring up an international operator and practice your French, Spanish, German. Get hold of a toll-free directory and dial away. Or call domestic long-distance information in far-off cities and track down your surname. Call up the strangers and ask if you're related - "roots" by the numbers. If your name's Smith, you've got a problem. If this doesn't work, ask the operator to swap recipes for pecan pie or coq au vin.
Fill up the birdfeeder and learn all about birds. In the world of pecking orders, the chief boasts the biggest beak; little birdies catch what they can; squirrels snarf the rest.
Write your epitaph. ("I told you I was sick.") Make out your will.
START YOUR NOVEL. Catch up on thank-you notes. Write your nearest and dearest. And if you don't feel like whipping the words into final shape, ring up Courtesy Associates (296-8100) downtown. For $10 an hour, at any hour of the day or night, they'll take dictation: speeches, letters, dirty books. Just remember, heavy breathing eats up the clock. As for delivery, they will, but you pay. On the other hand, Dial-a-Girl Temporaries (298-2166), also downtown, will send a secretary to your place to type take dictation and answer phones for $5.50 to $7.20 an hour.
And if your book's about the nutritional value of seaweed or how to build igloos, or something equally obscure - or if you're feeloing Blah and just plain curious - try calling the University of California library (415/642-6657), which will look up information over the phone. Staff is on duty from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. With the time change (three hours earlier out there), someone can help you pad a term paper until 1 a.m. our time. No collect calls, please.
In season, you can even call London for the cricket scores.
BOING THE BLAHS away with pinball. For $100 a day, Amusements Unlimited of Bladensburg (699-5199, daily until 10, weekends to midnight), will bring over the latest in lights, sound and fury: Captain Fantastic, Royal Flush, Eight Ball, Cinema or Surf Champ. You can rig it for free play, or let four friends flip away 100 games each at 25 cents per and break even.
Or rent a popcorn machine and have the neighbors (and kids) over for Saturday morning cartoons. A giant popper that cranks out 250 servings an hour runs $25 a day, the same price as the snow-cone machine and the cotton-candy machine. If the kids feel especially Blah, ask if the rent-a-clown ($50 an hour) is available to rush right out and blow up helium balloons.
Remember Buddy Holley, Little Anthony and the Imperials, Chubby Checker? A blast-to-the-past will chase The Blahs. Order up a little sweet music on the jukebox and, presto, for $85 a day, a machine packed with golden oldies will arrive at your door.
Crank up "Saturday Night Fever" - turn your living room into a disco with a 12 by 15-foot dance floor ($100 delivered and installed, from A-1 Rentals). Complete the Blahs Ball with a dazzling, revolving mirror ball - only $10.
Call a radio talk show and share your Blahs with the world.
Imagine yourself a great explorer. Columbus never got The Blash; Lewis and Clark weere too busy finding the Northwest Passage. Why not order up the proper supplies for your next adventure in the wilderness? L.L. Bean of Freeport, Maine, the Brooks Brothers of the outdoors, will send you a free catalogus to peruse. Operators won't accept your calls collect, but they're standing by seven days a week, 24 hours a day (207/865-3111) to fill orders for down vests, wool shirts, insulated boots, fly rods, canoes and paddles, sleeping bags.
BUILD A FIRE in the hearth and camp out in the living room. Kids tire of making a mess in the kitchen; you owe them some variety. Roast weenies or marshmallows in the fireplace. Or show them how the forefathers and foremothers used to cook stew in a cauldron. Or lock them outside and tell them to build an igloo. Otherwise, let them to pitch a tent inside and try out the new sleeping bag. Cmap The Blahs away.
Feel sorry for yourself.Crawl in bed with a gothic novel and a bottle of cheap wine. Savor the heroine's suffering. Drink away The Blahs. Get drunk. Get stoned. Get straight.
FILL THE LARDER with exotic foodstuffs. Elephant meat. Antelope steaks. Omtail soup. Turtle soup. All in cans. Creme caramel. Pate de foie gras. Beluga caviar, smoked salmon, lobster. All horribly expensive, but, then again, who ever said Larimer's Market (DE 2-3366) at 1727 Connecticut Ave. NW was the A&P? And who ever heard the butcher at Safeway inquire, "And what can I get for you today, madame?" Charge accounts available. Pay by the month. Delivery once a day.
Some drown The Blahs in won ton soup. And if you live within two miles of 2614 Connecticut Avenue NW, the address of Chin's Restaurant, the proprietors will deliver your pleasure. Egg rolls, fried Chinese veggies, shrimp with bean sprouts, sweet and sour porks, moo goo gai pan, chow meins, egg foo yungs, chop sueys, barbecued ribs. Complete dinners for two, for three, for four available at 483-8400.
And if you're an Inquisitionist with no heart, tormented with The Blahs because you feel Patty Hearst got off easy, you can chomp right into her by dialing 333-4810. A "Patty Hearst - turkey, bacon, melted provolone cheese and Russian dressing on toasted English muffin - is quite tasty. If you live in the Georgetown area, Booeymonger's, at 3265 Prospect St. NW, will deliver her to your door. (Their Wisconsin Ave. branch, 686-5805, delivers in the American University area.) Five-dollar minimum order, plus 50 cents for delivery, 6 to 11 Monday through Thursday.
The Blahs strike some folks who've been away from home cooking too long. And if home cooking meant a stove in the red-clay outback, where chitterlings and chicken smothered in brown gravy sizzled, you may find Thrifty Takeout (332-4430 or 332-3354) to your liking. An ad promises old-fashioned barbecue, seafood, chicken, pork chops and steaks delivered to your door, until the clock strikes 4:30 a.m., from Thrify establishments at 2916 Georgia Ave. NW and 501 Kennedy St. NW. Minimum order $3, plus 75 cents for delivery.
And if a sinful of pizza might life your clouds of Blah, Chicken in the Bucket, at 3514 Connecticut Ave. NW (966-2740), will deliver (75 cents extra) with a $3 minimum order, Monday through Friday, 4 to midnight, Chicken and subs, too.
LETS SAY you Blahs have arisen because you just ran out of the secret elixir a pharmacist in Montevideo concocted 10 years back. Or, horrors, your nostrils are flaring to inhale the scent of geraniums. Chances are the mortar and pestle people at Maxwell & Tennyson Inc, 916 19th St. NW (223-9797), can reconstruct the potion from a sample, or deliever some geranium oil to your door. M&T specializes in recreating discontinued drugs and furnishing various smells (the aroma of almonds as in almonds oil, the scent of Siberian pine needles, lavendar, eucalyptus, etc.) to people who like to work on their own odors. The phone is forever ringing off the hook, with foreign diplomats demanding outdated drugs, herbal cures, oil of anise. The Russians want this, the Chinese want that.Everyone wants something.
ARE THE BLAHS in your stars? In your hands? Some astrologers and palmists make housecalls. A palmist named Mrs. White of 1746 M St. NW (785-0050) said that for $35 she would close up her place and drop by yours. She prefers parties. Mrs. Angelina, a spiritualist, advertises a free response to one question over the phone (568-9879). But she doesn't answer the phone.
You could Dial-a-Fantasy, but it's been disconnected.
OUT WITH the old hems, in with the new. Get a fitting for an evening gown or a custom suit. An appointment a day or so in advance will bring over tailor A.J. Robinson (393-0971) armed with pins, chalk, his style book and cloth samples. A three-piece suit runs $248 and up. Why not take in/let out your old clothes at the same time? Or, if you want a tailor who speaks French, German, Spanish and Italian, George de Paris Christopoulos (737-2134) may be the man for you. He works from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., seven days a week, and says he'll pop right over to fit a man's suit, starting at $500, or a woman's grown form $320.
Or call in a fashion consultant to advise you on the right look from Vogue or Gentleman's Quarterly. A number of people in the area will come into your home, peek in your closet and order you to burn the Day-Glo sari and the Mao jacket. Among them is Nancy Ames Thompson (363-6649), who, for $35 an hour (two-hour minimum), will hold forth on the potential of your motheaten zoot suit, ponder the possibilities of that raffish raccoon coat and generally instruct you how to become stunning. For $50 an hour, she'll actually step out, do the shopping and deliver everything to your door.
IF FIFI, your poodle, has The Blahs, the Poodle Parlos of Silver SPring 424-8800) will dispatch one of its mobile radio units to dispense a manicure, bath, clipping, style and fluff, flea and tick-dipping, all for $19 to $29, depending on Fifi's size. Usually, "the works," says manager Brenday Walsh, takes some pre-scheduling, but if you're on the day's route, you may get same-day service. Chihuahuas are cheaper; grooming a short-haired cat urns $21. Free estimates for monkeys, horses, brids and so forth. 7 a.m to 10 p.m., seven days a week.
To groom yourself, order a manicurist, a hairdresser, a masseuse/masseur. To groom the house, why not a maid service? Lots of 'em in town.
MAYBE YOU'VE got The Blahs because you're new in town: Learn your way around. As of this writing, the Bethesda Emporium in the lobby of the Holiday Inn at 8120 Wisconsin Ave. had two Washington map jigsaw puzzles in stock. The 500-piece puzzle, an aerial view of the capital at $6.95, sits 16" by 20" when assembled. Or tack up a road map of the city and use if for a dart board.
Plan your spring planting. Order garden catalogues.
CALL A travel agency and plot your getaway. One airline offers four days and three nights in Miami at the Eden Roc Hotel for $105.50 per person, double occupancy, not including air fare. The same deal at the Hawaiian Inn runs $48.50 per person.
A one'week airfare/deluxe hotel package from Washington to the Yucatan runs about $700 per person. One weel in Jamaica, roundtrip plane, hotel and meals, about $550 a person; same deal on Aruba, $680. And a one-week "Cloud Nine" cruise aboard the Norwegian Carribean Line - Miami to Jamaica, Haiti, Nassau and back - with seven days and nights of drinking, dining and dancing The Blahs away runs $705 per person. Tack on $95 extra each for roundtrip air fare to Miami and sail The Blahs away.
OR TRY THIS: Dress up in old clothes, paint on makeup and snap a portrait. The next time The Blahs strike, whip out the picture. Look at you! Hah! You look ridiculous! Laugh The Blahs away.