Hypochondria, or the End of the World?

January 1998

With this recent bout of never-ending sickness that everyone seems to be suffering from, I, too, fell victim.

In my second week of the nose-blowing and Advil-guzzling party, I decided to stop stressing about my unsent Christmas cards and incomplete shopping list. Instead, I nursed myself and read a little, using the magic of the word to heal my snot-filled respiratory system. Stephen King’s "The Stand" was my medicine of choice.

A self-termed Dean Koontz-aholic, I did not expect to be impressed by another writer in the horror/thriller genre. But I’d already read my entire Koontz library and was in dire need of entertainment. So I picked up my dad’s Toyota-sized "Stand" and began the journey King promised to take me on.

A chapter into the book, I was hooked. And completely terrified. "The Stand," for all you out there not familiar with the tome, begins with a fatal virus leaked by the government. It resembles the common cold/flu (which I had) and it kills almost everyone it infects (oh dear). It essentially ends the world as we know it (where’s the Lysol?).

Now you see my dilemma. The bookworm in me devoured page after page of amazing King prose, while the hypochondriac portion died (no pun intended) to throw that book out the nearest window and head right for the nearest plastic bubble.

So I took a break, watched a few (dozen) hours of "A Christmas Story" on TNT and then picked up the story when I felt a bit more mentally stable.

With my respiratory virus (hopefully) on its way to extinction, I could begin my King-penned journey without breaking into a non-fever-caused sweat. Yet I’m no less terrified of the tale.

It reminds me of all the random predictions and doomsday prophecies we’ve been subject to lately as the millennium draws near. From killer bugs to terrorists, computer viruses to nuclear war, who can get excited about a new chapter of our society when these threats float around from office cooler to dinner table? It’s enough to make Stephen King scared.

I’ve decided to steer away from the norm in this column. Instead of issuing a stale New Year’s Resolution diatribe, I will just make a promise.

I promise to have fun.

Much is already planned for 1998, and with those changes, I’m also planning some merriment. Like roller-coaster riding, ice skating, traveling. Heck, if the world is really going to end in two years, I’ve got a lot to do.

This promises to be a resolution much easier kept than getting to the gym by 6 a.m. And more fun, too.