Happiness is a Head Cold


Short Version


By Karen Cole

Word count: 750

How could marriage result from a head cold? Why, I squirm as if caught in a velvet trap…well, I could, but my husband is standing behind me and might ask me what I’m sitting on. Yes, it’s been nothing but high misadventure for me, especially since I lost my brave and sincere first husband, a wonderful Austrian-American Jew, to combined MS and cancer in 1985.

Anyway, several years and as many nerve-wracking, tumultuous, and sanity-defying relationships later, I landed in the plastic schoolroom seat in front of Remerio, my future second husband, in a five-week Certified Nurse Aide class held at a nursing home near Northgate in Seattle, next to a merrily perking and brewing coffee pot. Innocent and unknowing, I was headed for yet another high-pitched roller coaster ride.

Grace was sitting to the right front, I was seated to the rear left, and I was mildly jealous of her degree of nursing home experience. I was fitfully “taking it out” on Grace. I was casting her sidelong glances, and sniffling loudly and intermittently. It was quite embarrassing. So I started guiltily fetching her a hot cup of coffee sometimes, as the pot was brewing closer to me than her. It would’ve been hard for Grace to squeeze between the seats and fetch herself a hot, fresh cup without spilling it. I began getting her some coffee.

But our commiserative relationship as two ladies of eldercare was rudely interrupted by the rapid-fire entrance of Remerio’s sneakered foot through the reverberating back of my nearly shattering cheap plastic chair. Turning around, right after the “kick-off,” I faced down a middle-aged, flatly Hispanic cold stare. His face reminded me of a similar nut-brown countenance, a Middle-Eastern teacher I’d been attracted to ‘way back at Ohio University. Said chap always mispronounced the word “equilibrium” in a characteristic accent that could shatter a glass retort. He explained the rules of physical science to us neophyte med students in as high of a pitch as he could muster, but it was musical and alluring somehow…and this kicky guy behind me looked a lot like him.

Remerio turned out to be a multi-talented Philippine/Hawaiian import, a seventh-degree black belt, a fabulous chef of his regional cuisines and one heck of a lip-locking rugged kisser, in approximately that order. I was an artist and writer of long standing who needed some work “on the side,” so I’d decided to take a Certified Nurse Aide training course and move in with a little old lady I knew who needed the help. It was a great way to continue my career without interference. But now this new guy had shown up in my life. I tried out assuming there was something nice about him. He gradually began merrily chasing me to the bus stop in his beat-up old blue and white pickup truck. He soon followed me home, and Mommy said I could keep him.

Actually, “Mommy” was Carrie, a disabled little old lady freckly dwarf I was working for and living with at the time. She needed in-home care, and Remerio helped us move into a larger apartment, cooking and cleaning for us. I scarcely had to lift a finger; he was simply everywhere, driving us to church and generally relieving me of my cares and woes until Carrie abruptly died, peacefully in her sleep.

We married a week after Cinquo de Mayo. On Christmas Day three years later we were blessed by our little princess Angela, nut-brown as her Daddy and sporting my chipmunk cheekbones. This incident may be the only time in history that a cold-stricken gal every attracted a lonely, jealously protective guy through being an apparently obvious, blatant and coffee-fetching sniffling sicko.

I guess I’d suggest that more single ladies, and any other intrigued parties, try sniffling at people sitting nearby to see whose attention they get. You may attract a wonderful soul, which might work out quite well, especially if they happen to be an excellent cook — as the husband of a friend of mine (who used this method) turned out to be. Hope that he or she has a weird sense of humor.

If so, it helps a lot if you fetch them some coffee. It soothes their tired, ruffled feathers. Seems some folks are more descendants of birds than lizards.

Be sure and add some cream and sugar.