As the characters on a crappy TV show that everyone has pretended to forget often said: Winter is coming. Medical experts are warning that colder weather may trigger yet another COVID-19 surge — although, they hope, nothing as bad as the last time year-end holidays rolled around. The most important difference is the number of Americans who have received at least one dose of the several available vaccines. However, being immunized has also led to more maskless socialization overall, which means a comeback for other illnesses — the flu and common cold.
Or, if you’ve already adapted to the new parlance, a “super cold.”
Please join me in putting an end to this nonsense right now. You don’t have a super cold. You have a cold. “Super colds” are not real. As Neil Mabbott of the University of Edinburgh, a specialist in immunopathology, has pointed out, we’re catching colds because the safety measures we took last year limited our exposure to the virus that causes them, and our immune systems are now less prepared to do battle with it. Moreover — and here’s what I find quite important — we’ve basically forgotten the awful sensations of having a persistent cold, so we’ve decided to rebrand it as something more intense and scarier-sounding than it actually is.
Yes, it sucks to catch a cold. Nobody would deny that. But also, let’s be real: Cold-exaggeration has a long history in our culture. Years and years before the average layperson knew about such a thing as the coronavirus, we always declared that this current cold was the worst ever. “Oh, keep away from me, you don’t want what I’ve got!” What, you’re hoarding germs now? Think you’re the only one tough enough to handle a stuffed-up nose?
Or maybe you go the other way, Total Baby Mode, and can’t stop listing symptoms that take the form of nonsense metaphors. “Ughhh, it’s like my brain is being squeezed by a drunk grizzly bear while I’m underwater and taking a trigonometry exam.” Okay, and? Go back to bed! Stop talking! This isn’t a contest, and there’s no prize for “most overwrought self-diagnosis.” Get a new box of tissues.
Misery may love company, but when I’ve got a cold, I’m eating my soup and watching my comfort movies and not going out or saying shit. I’m certainly not inventing the bunk-science category of “super cold” to explain the very ordinary aches and pains to make myself seem important — I leave that to the meteorologists who forecast “ultra-blizzards” or “thundernados” or whatever. The truth is, when you try to convey this type of physical suffering to someone healthy, they’re as bored as if you were describing a very dull dream in tedious detail. Don’t worry, they’ll probably have it next anyway, and maybe they’ll do you the favor of not repeating back all your complaints. They’ll just take a couple days off work, drink their fluids and rest.
By the way, the people who are really going to love this “super cold” theory are conspiracists who have already started claiming it’s a vaccine side effect. No aggrandizing buzzword is worth six months of hearing that any sniffle or sneeze is the direct result of toxins dispersed by Big Pharma in collaboration with Bill Gates. Let’s nip this one in the bud and call a cold a cold. You simply do not have to hype it up. And for god’s sake, forget that WebMD exists.