Am I getting sick, dammit? Is this portentous throb in my brain the on-ramp to a massive cold? Is that familiar scratch in my throat a tease to a burning ribbit? Do those worrisome pangs in my limbs augur aches across my entire body?
Am I pissed about all this?
Yes, I am!
For one, I hate being sick — and that, reader, is the winner of the most unoriginal statement in the history of the world.
Two, I have a date. With Philadelphia to be exact. This week. A three-day assignation with some fine art, that’s what it is. And excellent food. And an unapologetic dive bar named Dirty Frank’s. That is correct: Dirty Frank’s.
Philly is only two hours away. And there happens to be two art shows worth some time there: “Matisse in the 1930s” at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (the place with the mountainous steps that Sylvester Stallone scales in “Rocky” — and why did I feel I had to mention that?), and “Modigliani Up Close” at the peerless Barnes Foundation, one of my very favorite venues for aesthetic astonishments.
And food. I will indulge in delicious vittles (and drink) at Village Whiskey (burgers, the eponymous hooch, and oodles of class) and The Dandelion, a “sophisticated homage to the British pub.” Last time I was there, I ate right next to a crackling fireplace.
We can’t overlook Dirty Frank’s, that famous cash-only, no-nonsense skank bar just around the corner from my hotel. It’s a neat, neon-splashed, Bud-in-the-bottle joint, replete with a hard-rocking jukebox, darts, pinball and miles of tats. Vice magazine calls it “a gleaming oasis of weird in a town beset by 21st-century slickening that’s always made people its primary business, no matter who those people are.” Word-for-word, my cold seems to fade at that description.
But is it actually fading? My head still thumps, my throat slightly sizzles. It’s time for three more Advils. I got a flu shot in September, so it can’t be the flu, can it? And I’ve had Covid and I don’t have any respiratory symptoms. And yet …
Take it easy, I tell myself. As I gulp down the pills, I toast good riddance to any sick and hello to Matisse, Modigliani — and Frank. Now, as further deterrence, I plop down for a nap. And I dream of Philadelphia.