MANNO: A sickening Thanksgiving tradition

While I was in Pennsylvania a few years back, the stomach flu struck at about 5 a.m. Thanksgiving morning. My grand feast was a half-cup of Canada Dry and a piece of toast. Granted, my massive-quantity eating habits were not as refined at this age, so it didn’t faze me so much.

Last year, though, the seasonal sickness ransacked my throat and put me in a hospital bed for the holiday. This condition developed steadily over the bus ride home to Cleveland, as I tried to distract myself from the pain with a paperback and unearthed Pokémon Silver. Skipping past an opportunity for spare AAs at the rest stop was my biggest regret – my GameBoy conked out just before the Elite Four, leaving me cold and alone with my enemy.

Ten hours and a Vicodin prescription later, I was in the ER on Thanksgiving, being asked my height and weight and whether I’m a smoker while my mother translated the various urbles and gurbles that took the place of my words. Images of pie and mashed potatoes danced in my brain.

The rest of the day I was stuck spitting into a bag and watching Francis Ford Coppola movies. Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz is impeccable (and a nasally voice was perfect for a day-long impersonation of his Vito Corleone). This was not my finest hour, of course. My moment of victory came only the day after Thanksgiving, when I downed a cup of cherry ice cream after a surgeon’s late-night throat excavation.

This year, my throat pain is back, coming with another vicious assault on my eating abilities and on my morale. It struck Sunday, and I’m doing all I can to fight it off before Turkey Day, wearing three coats around the house and self-medicating with oranges and coffee. Hopefully the Thanksgiving plague is hitting a week early, and I won’t have to ration my yams this year.

So that’s good news. But let my discomfort be a lesson, folks: If you want to avoid what is sure to be an unpleasant Thanksgiving tradition, wash your mitts, knock on wood and keep up on your apple-a-day. That is, unless you’re looking forward to a tonsillectomy in the near future. Otherwise, turkey prevails.