I have a summer cold. To be perfectly honest, I just had a cold. It was a very bad cold and from moment to moment it is hard to tell if I am over it. The world is still a bit shaky and the spring in my step is gone until August, at least. But the thing that really bothers me is that whenever I tell someone I've been sick, they nod and say, "I know, it's going around." It wasn't before I got it.

I was the first person to have a cold this summer. I want the world to know that. Every time I get a cold, every time I get any kind of sick, people tell me, "It's going around." I never have anything by myself. If I had the black plague, someone in my office would say it's going around.

This is always the case with me. I never get credit for being the first. I was the first person to jog (1948), the first to own hi-fi equipment (1956),the first to wear designer jeans (1978), the first kid to smoke and the first to quit, the first to take vitamin C, the first person to realize that nuclear war would be a bad thing (1948), the first man to wear thin ties (1965, 1981), the first to use the word "neat" to mean something other than tidy, the first to discover Woody Allen and the first to become disenchanted, the first man to cry (l975), the first sensitive person in the Army, the first confused person at college, the first person to wonder at the meaning of it all and the first person in the summer of l982 to have a really awful summer cold.

I was officially sick. My temperature was almost 101, which is a terrific fever--maybe even a flu or a virus. My head hurt and my ears hurt and the joints in my old bones hurt. I hurt all over and when the phone rang, despite all my pain, I went for it, thinking, maybe, that someone was calling to ask about me.

"How are you?"

"Sick. One hundred and one. My joints ache and my inner ear hurts and my head is splitting open."

"It's going around."


This sort of thing continued.

"How are you?"

"Very, very sick. I have 103.8 and my head is splitting open and I might lose my leg and the doctor has referred me to a specialist."

"It's going around."


I called the doctor and told him what I had. He listened.

"We're seeing a lot of that," he said.

The man called from the bank card that already has been revoked. "When can we expect payment?" he asked.

"Who knows? I'm sick. I'm running 104.8 and my knees hurt and my head is splitting open and my arm just fell off."

"There's a lot of that going around. Can you pay today?"


Things did not improve when I went back to work. Most people did not notice that I continued to write although on death's doorstep. I thought about saying, "This column is being written although the writer has a terrible headache and an awful pain in his inner ear and recently went through the profound experience of having a temperature of 104.8 and now wants very much to go back to sleep." Nothing like that appeared. I am not the type to complain.

Someone called to comment on something I had written and said they would have called the day before but they were out of town.

"It's okay, I was out sick," I said.

"It was a good column," they said.

"I had a terrific cold, virtually the flu. My head hurt something awful and I had pain in my inner ear and my leg turned green and my tongue turned purple and no one cared or noticed."

"We had a girl in our office with a summer cold, too," he said. "She thought she was better, but when she came back to work she just turned pale and got dizzy and so I told her to go home. There's a lot of it going around, y'know."

"I know, I know."

Now I am getting better. I am fighting my way back to better health and pretty soon I will be back to my old self. I just wanted to tell you sort of as a public service that the summer cold season is here. You get a temperature of l06.8 and your ears ache and your joints hurt and your tongue turns purple, but no one notices. Instead, they all say, "It's going around." This is what happens when you have a summer cold, but don't ask me about it.

Some things I won't talk about.