Loosely based on true events.

  1. A nice benefit of widespread mask-wearing is that I haven’t been sick in a year. No summer cold, no miserable virus bounced around the office or on public transport. An unforeseen consequence of this is that I’ve somehow forgotten what being sick feels like and have therefore decided that my second COVID shot will be No Big Deal. Because it won’t. No, sir.
  2. Get the shot exactly three weeks from the first. Double mask it, juggle my ID, phone, headphones, jacket and backpack like I’m auditioning for Cirque du Soleil right in the middle of Reggie Louis Center. Extract vaccine card when the very lovely nurse asks, “You got your golden ticket?” Respond with about 10 million questions about medication, and count the number of times she says, “Stay hydrated.” Plan to stay hydrated.
  3. Head home. Drink water, take elderberry syrup because my wife is very crunchy and insists on a tablespoon of syrup that tastes like the word “puce” whenever even a hint of illness is afoot. Every 30 to 45 minutes, glance anxiously around as if my immune system is merely hiding at my periphery, ready to strike.
  4. Go to bed feeling fine.
  5. Wake up in the middle of the night absolutely 100% certain that I am dying. Is that the light or the smoke detector? Get up, take Tylenol because the very nice nurse said it probably wouldn’t kill me and lie awake in a wash of Kafkaesque agony.
  6. I have not had a fever in quite a while, which means I’ve forgotten the eternal tease of the Right Temperature. Blanket on: Too hot. Blanket off: Too cold. Alternate blanket on and blanket off because sticking just one leg out is practically begging for monsters. Worry about dreaming about monsters.
  7. Have a dream about monsters. Fever dreams—or at least my fever dreams—are strange because they have so much plot. I’ve never had a regular dream that I’ve stopped in the middle of to marvel at the pacing. The brain is truly an incredible place. If only my body wasn’t trying to cook it in a mad bid to see if we can outlast a shot.
  8. Wake up at 10 a.m. more disoriented than I’ve ever been in my entire life. My wife is at work. Past me took the day off, despite her earlier assertions, and was very wise to do so. Stand in the kitchen and eat a piece of toast, then play “Stardew Valley” until they get back with matzo ball soup, aka Jewish penicillin.
  9. One very nice thing about being married is having someone to whine to. Whine in various pitches to cover the full spectrum of human reactions to being sick.
  10. Hydrate. Repeat.
  11. Go back to work the next morning still a bit foggy but very glad to know my immune system still works. While a bit difficult, any side effects from a vaccine are far better than having the actual illness, and the benefits far outweigh the costs. Wait two weeks, then see vaccinated friends and family!corin