How could something so small and which looks like a dog’s toy cause such discomfort?
This time of year, I often find myself longing for the salad days of my youth when I lived in a state of total freedom from the effects of allergies. Hay fever was a condition that I often heard others complaining about, but as far as I was concerned, it was little more than the subject of television commercials and the occasional drug store product display. Furthermore, the idea that animals of any species could cause discomfort merely by their being in close proximity to me seemed positively implausible.
Youthful naivete kept me from realizing how lucky I was. I was oblivious to the reality that I was effectively living in some sort of hypoallergenic bubble which, much to my chagrin, was soon to burst. I never saw it coming. It’s a cruel reality that so often in life, you fail to realize your good fortune until you no longer possess it.
During my sophomore year of college, a friend came over to my dorm room one afternoon accompanied by his newly acquired pet kitten. Now I’d never been a cat person, so it was inconceivable to me why any self-respecting college man would want to be seen in public with a kitten. I could see myself walking around campus with a Germany Shepherd or even a Bassett Hound, but not in the company of a calico kitten. It simply wasn’t a good look, neither then nor now.
Soon enough, friend and kitten moved on to other venues, but not before I realized that my right eye had begun to itch. This wasn’t just a pleasant little itch which could be quickly relieved with a bit of gentle phalangic persuasion. This one was rapidly escalating into the Mother of All Itches.
What was called for was some serious digging and scratching. Before I knew it, my right eye was swollen and bloodshot to such an extent that it appeared as if I’d just gone a couple of very long rounds with Muhammad Ali ….. and he with bare knuckles.
Having never experienced anything like this, I was slow to recognize that the source of my distress was a long dormant, but now awakened, allergy to felines. I’d always been suspicious of those beasts, but now I found that I did not care for them in any way, shape, or form.
Perhaps triggered by this new reaction to cats, within a few years I also developed chronic hay fever and seasonal allergies. Springtime was no longer that wonderful season of rebirth and renewal, pleasant temperatures, and abundant sunshine. It had morphed into a time of itching, sneezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, contact lenses which impersonated small circular pieces of sand paper, and a generalized overall gunky feeling.
And to think that this is all due to rampant reproductive rites occurring within the plant world and the microscopic irritants which that bacchanalia releases into the otherwise congenial springtime air.
I’ve never been able to isolate just which species of weed or flowering plant serves as the source of my affliction. Inexplicably, my reactions to inflated pollen counts seem to occur on an every other year basis. It’s as if Mother Nature is toying with me, leading me believe that my condition has gone into remission, which only serves to make my suffering all the more acute the following spring.
Yet I press on, sure in the knowledge that there is always better living to be had through chemistry. Armed with Claritin, Zyrtec, and Allegra, I am more than a match for even the most belligerent clump of ragweed.
Ah the grass is greener, swaying lightly in the breeze,
The air is sweet and friendly, excuse me while l sneeze.
Watching the grasses grow atchoo, leaves me with a smile,
I just wish this wretched sneezing, would leave me alone for a while!
– Hay Fever Blues by Colin Skilton