CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I like to believe that the picture a few inches above these words doesn't look a thing like me.
People often tell me it doesn't. Sometimes they'll even ask why I don't have something more flattering. Truth be told, I've figured out it's an easy way to get a compliment.
Unfortunately, yes. I am that shallow.
I've reached the age where flattery is becoming so scarce I'll do whatever's required to keep the occasional "you look so much better in person" comments coming. I used to think it would be hard to look worse, but last week, I was so sick that even managing to resemble my driver's license photo would've been an accomplishment.
To get a visual, use a red pen to color in the eyes on that headshot up there. Ring them with black circles. Add squiggly lines to resemble hair made of a wire-straw composite. For the full effect, you'd need to roll it in something smelly, wad it and unroll it again, devise some way to make it moan pitifully, and then catch it on fire so it would be somewhere near the temperatures I attained while fighting the bug that so effectively flattened me.
Flu shot? Who needs a stinking flu shot? Those are for pessimists. I never get the flu.
I'm not sure if swine flu is still around, but I was in fine swine form for several days there. Smelled and looked and acted like a pig. One on a hunger strike, anyway.
My piglet was right there with me, having come down with the bug at about the same time. Together we lay on the futon in my home office and watched an entire season of "The Office," one episode after another, on my computer.
We'd frequently drift off into fitful sleep in our sea of stained popsicle sticks and discarded tissues. Somewhere during that first day, the center support leg to the futon broke. After rolling off several times, one of us -- I'm fairly sure it was me -- started feverishly shoving everything within arm's reach underneath the futon until it was no longer a lumpily padded sliding board, but rather a lumpily padded bed once again.