I’d planned to talk about the four horsemen of the Apocalypse this weekend, but I’ve managed to contract a summer cold. I’ve cycled through Famine, my sinuses are at War with each other, Death seems more like a kind friend instead of a fearsome spectre, and for the life of me, I can’t remember the other horseman.
Oh, yeah. Plague. Got that one covered, too.
So anyway, I thought I’d be less dramatic and talk about sickness in a novel. You see it sometimes, because nursing someone back to health is a very powerful image. The lifegiver, the kind nurturer bearing a bowl of soup or a cool compress. My mom used to like doctor/nurse stories, so I read a lot of those as a teenagers. Can’t remember any of them in particular, but when I grew older (like in my mid-30s), I started reading Georgette Heyer.
Heyer is perhaps the godmother of the Regency Romance. She did great research, her characterization was pinpoint, and her plots . . . she can lead me along the craziest goose chases, and I never get bored or frustrated. I can’t wait to see how the whole messy tangle ends, even when I’ve read it before, and I’m left satisfied when I turn the last page.
In one of Heyer’s books, someone gets sick. I can’t remember who, or the name of the book offhand. Brain under seige; sinuses trying to invade the memory banks. I could Google it, but I say that in the same tones as I would say “I could walk 50 kilometers.” It feels like that kind of long journey to open another window and input the proper words into the search bar. I’m going to try and wing it.
Anyway, someone gets sick, and the hero really proves himself by arriving at the right time and with a basket of restorative pork jelly. I guess if you are in the mood for restorative pork jelly, you really aren’t sick anymore. I do imagine it as that lovely collagen that canned hams are often encased in. Perhaps it isn’t that gross after all. No, it sounds pretty gross, but just the sort of humorous cure-all that makes Heyer stand out in the crowd.
The patient is cured, the nurse is grateful, and the hero gets to preen as a simple yet uncommon sort of hero. The man with precisely the right thing at the right time.
So, what do I learn from this little meditation? Well, if I’m a sample of normal, average humanity (play along with me), first of all, if you give someone good stuff consistently, they start to remember your name, even if they don’t remember exactly what it is you do. Second, people love alternative medicine. I’m going to try to put some really astonishing snake oil into my next fictional illness. Third . . . I forget what third is. I’m going back to bed, and maybe I’ll be up for some Google, some Georgette Heyer and some restorative pork jelly when I get up.
Enjoy your weekend, and if you see any suspicious-looking horsemen, please be sure to report them to the proper authorities.