Michaeline: Summer Colds

Lobby Card for a 1921 movie with a man embracing a reluctant woman, and four cartoon horsemen of the apocalypse riding their way around the corner.

Each kiss flamed with danger! Little did he know I WAS Plague embodied. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

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.

Chico, Harpo and Groucho Marx with a horse for a movie advertisement of A Day at the Races.

The lesser-known fifth horseman of the apocalypse, Harpo Marx, was known by his golden horn. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: Summer Colds

  1. I’ll save your poor, aching head, Micki – that would be Frederica. She is effectively the mother of two plot-moppet siblings (Felix and Jessamy? Where does my brain keep this stuff?), one of whom was ill/injured – I’m thinking a balloon was involved – but by the time of the pork jelly incident is thankfully on the road to recovery. The hero is all set to propose, and the heroine’s attention is entirely occupied by plot moppet. I love Heyer but I don’t love this book. The winsome children make me wince. That said, if you’re starting to perk up a little it might be just the ticket!

    • Ah, yes, yes, yes! I like that book very much because the Steampunk elements delight me. The little boy is fascinated by tech, and is always running off to see a steam engine, or a printing press, or the balloon. And he caught the cold because he’d gone up in the balloon (stowed away?) without proper clothing for a balloon ride, and then . . . was there a broken leg as well, or just lung infections? I’m going to have to read the book again — I wonder if the hero was all set to propose, but he was a Mr. Darcy-type — not quite worthy of our Heroine’s Hand.

      It’s one of my faves. Although, I think Venetia might edge it out. I remember Cotillion and Sprig Muslin being very good, too.

      I think the fifth Horseman might be a regional position. You get Ronnie Soak on Discworld (I think that’s the first time I caught onto the name! Soak –> Kaos!), Harpo Marx in early 20th century America . . . I’m sure we could come up with some other good candidates. I wanted to talk about the Horsemen anyway because the world’s going to hell in a handbasket, and I thought I could link it to the Good Omens horsemen. Plus, I think Kay mentioned Horsemen in the comments a few days back, so it’s obviously in the air. (M. ducks to avoid a sudden stampede of thundering hooves overhead. Damn flying horsemen!)

      I should probably be in bed.

        • (-: Why is it out there? The world does feel like it’s bad, but it can’t be much worse than it was during the Cold War. Oh well, I feel less lonely knowing other people are debating the Horsemen.

  2. PS I thought the Fifth Horseman was Kaos, also known as Ronnie Soak the milkman. That’s what Terry Pratchett said, so it must be true (love, love, love Thief of Time).

  3. Michaeline, do you need us to send you some restorative pork jelly? I imagine in today’s world that must be chicken noodle soup, or the equivalent. I could go for some of that right now, and I’m not even sick.

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