Walter Mencken 10:15 a.m., Dec. 13
Broccoli Soup, Vicks Vapor Rub and Malbec
This nasty cold’s been hanging on for nearly a week and I am fed up with it. It’s is right in my sinus’s, I sound like I’ve got a giant clothes pin stuck to my nose, my eyes ache and I am socially persona-no-one-wanna. I’ve called all my friends looking for some sympathy but all I get are comments like, “quit your whining, how’d you get it dummy, eat chicken soup.” The chicken soup response gleamed the top rating of all the home remedy suggestions received, and don’t get me wrong, I am grateful they didn’t just hang up on me.
Round about day seven of this infirm condition, I checked the pantry to see if I had any chicken soup. What possibly could chicken soup have that’s going to make me feel better and cure this cold? Isn’t this just an old wives tale? Not a can to be found and I wasn’t about to drive to the market, should have taken a couple of those offers, “Oh poor thing, let me make you some chicken soup”. So I stood there starring into the refrigerator trying to come up with a cold remedy from what I saw, two bottles of Corona, six dried up old lemons, two bottles of champagne, a huge jar of pealed and chopped garlic, a six day old bag of broccoli tips, brown onions, several red and green tomatoes from the garden. Looks like broccoli soup to me! Why not, this could be the next great cure for the common cold.
In a matter of minutes I had the onions in the pot along with enough garlic to scare off Count Dracula himself. The green and red tomatoes went in next and browned nicely while I chopped the broccoli into bite-sized morsels. Fortunately, I had a couple boxes of chicken broth in the cupboard and some cute curly pasta shells to finish up the potion. As the vapors of my salvation began filling the infirmary, I spied an unopened bottle of malbec that most surely would have “anti-mucus” mentioned on the back label. And I was right, so I poured myself an immediate glass.
As I sat in my Lazy Boy tomb of the last few days, I began remembering all the home cures my grandmother gave me out on the farm. Small farmers had little time or money for doctoring, you either toughed it out or dealt with Grandma’s remedies. The absolute worst I remember was cod liver oil, God that was horrible stuff. Just the idea of her coming at me with the bottle and a spoon cured me right then. Dad pretty much picked up his mother’s ways. He had an aversion to doctors and kept a cabinet full of old bottles of weird elixirs.
Now when I was a kid and had a cold at Grandma’s, she’d toss me down and smear Vicks all over my chest and rub it fast till I could feel it burning the crud right out of me. For the first few minutes I was breathing like a dragon, at least good enough so she’d put me back to my chores. Dad use to lay a levee of the stuff all along his upper lip just below his nostrils, he swore by it even though it looked disgusting.
Well that huge pot of broccoli soup saw me through four meals over two days. That first night it tasted fantastic, but like they say, beware of too much of a good thing. And I want to tell you that a levee of Vicks below the nose doesn’t do anything for malbec. I am grateful that my laptop works from the “throne” while I wait for all that broccoli to pass. At least we can stay in touch