Pollen, cold or COVID? Let’s play Florida spring Mad Libs.
Sniffles? Headache? Fatigue? Insert your symptoms here.
Allergy relief medications available for sale at Care Plus Pharmacy in Palm Harbor in 2022.
Allergy relief medications available for sale at Care Plus Pharmacy in Palm Harbor in 2022. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times ]
Published March 23|Updated March 23

During an (adjective) stroll through the park on a sunny March afternoon in (any town), Florida, I was overcome by a series of violent (nouns).

The (gerund, look it up) would not relent. I peered into the trees above. (Nature noun), just truckloads of (same noun), falling out of every branch, (same noun) painting with all the colors of the wind. In my hair. In my nose. In my (off-brand leggings).

My head felt (adjective, a juicy one that describes confronting mortality). I ran to my (mode of transportation), which was covered in a layer of (horror movie monsters, classic or modern). I checked my body for (parasitic arachnid).

But the (gerund, more dramatic) persisted. I went home and felt increasingly (profane adjective) over the next few (surreal periods of dilated time that support Einstein’s theory of Special Relativity). I wondered, did I have (pandemic, any, past 200 years)? I took a test. The test was (noun).

My nose became (adverb) runny and my ears started to (verb, come on, make it good). My throat felt as if (turn of phrase that describes disembodied hands choking the life out of a sentient being). My gums (verb). I consulted the online pollen forecast, which, to my dismay, included a bar chart showing weekend numbers soaring into (a doomy color).

I started to think this wasn’t just (noun for silly little snifflies). Perhaps I had (simple virus), or (chronic infections of a pale, Victorian child), or (any major autoimmune disorder) or even (controversial illness not recognized by Western medicine). Perhaps I had (immediate death-causing catastrophe). I went to Dr. Google, who said I would surely (annihilation of choice), and it was my own fault for being so (major personality defect) all the time.

I could not remember the last time I drank (life-giving liquid), only (fun-time, party liquid) and (sugary, carbonated beverage) and (energy drink, hot or cold). And, let’s face it. I hadn’t taken a multivitamin since (American president of choice, Clinton or earlier) was in office. We all had to stay healthy back then, given his policies on (any political point, free opportunity to score).

I read several (reputable news articles/TikToks) about how common cold remedies don’t work that well. I went to the pharmacy and asked for (OG stuff), when an (adjective, negative) pharmacy technician asked questions to ensure I wasn’t making (noun, illicit) in a (noun, illicit) laboratory. I replied (reaction based on horoscope that day).

I stayed in bed as much as possible, sleeping and (additional present participle verb form). I tried to read, but all the words looked like (language, nonprimary). I tried to play Wordle but could only spell (five-letter nonsense word). I watched (reality TV show about polyamory or luxury real estate). I drank (nonmood-altering liquid) and ate (animal-shaped snack intended for children 5 and younger). I logged into work from bed because capitalism (present perfect simple indicative verb).

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I checked the weather from my (handheld device, germ-covered) and saw the possibility of (precipitation event). Maybe it would wash away the (pollens, fungal spores, dust mites, animal epithelial materials). Or maybe it would make conditions cozy just long enough to recover from whatever cruel (noun) spring hath wrought. That would be (adjective, high note, ending).

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