Perhaps I should have downed the remaining outrageously priced remedy I bought last year in The City when I was definitely not my best self. I walked into one of those herbal remedy stores that hawks magical potions, elixirs and snake oil dressed in simple yet sophisticated packaging and priced for the upscale sucker who believes that a shot glass full of rare and foul tasting roots and leaves harvested in far away places will have you feeling right as rain in a jiffy.
As soon as I heard the door of Nature’s Apothecary (not actual name) shut behind me, I knew I would spend whatever was in my wallet for the promise of clear nasal passages. Having recently visited the ATM machine for a sizeable withdrawal, I was clearly fucked. The dreadlocked young man with wire-rimmed glasses and scrappy tuft of facial hair knew it, too, and made a bee-line to greet me at the door to offer me assistance.
Did he look familiar or was it the ungroomed patch of dirty-blond, wiry beard that simply reminded me of someone I dated once? Hmmm.
“How can I help you?” he asked with a sweet smile that proved he had my best interest at heart.
“I ab sick. It’s juzta cold but… (cough) (throat-clear) (cough) (sniff) I feel like a truck hit me inda face.”
He swept his dreads behind his shoulder with a flick of his wrist. “I’m sorry you’re not feeling well. Nasty bugs are just flying around especially in this pollutant Mecca of a city, right?” I nodded and smiled because he clearly knew that I wasn’t the fragile type but a victim of our poisoned environment.
“Any of these three will do the trick.” He said pointing to the shelf with the highest priced solutions in 2 ounce bottles.
The first one was an $18 eye-dropper bottle with a label that looked like it was peeled off a birch tree and a logo of a twig with a single berry hanging off the end-ripe and purple and perfectly round. All of the ingredients listed were exotic botanicals grown in China except the one that was harvested on the mountain tops of Peru. Next to it was the $21 bottle wrapped in yellow, recycled paper with green ink that promised its contents were organic and sustainably farmed. And finally, for $33 bottle with the stark white sticker and a line drawing of a Freud-like face and a doctor’s unpronounceable Swedish name and the claim that it was medically proven to reduce the length of a cold in Times Roman font.
Being a savvy shopper, knowledgeable in healthy herbs (and some not so healthy), I used a scientific method of selection and chose the middle priced bottle.
Dreadboy handed me my tincture. “I recommend you get some of these vitamin packets. You’ll find that this remedy doesn’t taste that great on its own, so it helps to dissolve some of the flavored Vitamin C sachets I’ve got here. I personally like the acai berry or pomegranate, and I’d just pour them into a 8oz glass of water along with the 15 drops of this.” I bought everything he was dealing and left the shop with a significantly lighter wallet and boundless hope.
I soon as I arrived at dinner with a friend, I prepared my mixture and raised my glass. “Lick hymen!” My usual toast appropriate for every occasion. A few big gulps, and I saw flashes of white light before the fire shot up from my esophagus and out through my nose and tears blinded me from the concerned look on my friend's face.
OH THE BURNING! THE IMPOSSIBLY RANCID BURNING!!
When I finally regained the feeling in my tongue, I decided to check out the ingredients.
Fresh horseradish root, Echinacea, fresh spilanthes herb, garlic, cayenne fruit, horehound herb, licorice root, boneset herb, onion and 30-40% grain alcohol
All became clear. 40 years worth of tears in the desert-horseradish, some herb named after a slag in heat and enough alcohol to sanitize and numb my brain so I wouldn't think about how much money I spent on this foul shit. I waited for hours to feel the magic that would follow the suffering, but I waited in vain.
Last weekend I went to bed at 2 in the afternoon on Saturday and woke up at 10 the next morning. When I finally shuffled out of bed, I was able to eat the chicken soup that Gabriella made for me. As soon as I swallowed that first spoonful, I was reborn.
Friends. A word. When you have a cold, get a lot of rest and eat some hot, chicken soup. And whether you're unwell or completely healthy, don't just put anything in your mouth.