It was May. And how can homely afternoons in Colorado with its farms and irrigation ditches and shady dells—the places where little boys go swimming—produce a bug like the bug that bit Stan Shephard? He had his arm draped over the broken door and was riding along and talking happily when suddenly a bug flew into his arm and embedded a stinger in it and that made him howl. It had come out of an American afternoon. He yanked and slapped at his arm and dug out the stinger, and in a few minutes his arm had begun to swell and hurt. Dean and I couldn't figure out what it was. The thing was to wait and see if the swelling went down. Here we were, heading for unknown southern lands, and barely three miles out of hometown, poor old hometown of childhood, a strange feverish exotic bug rose from secret corruptions and sent fear into our hearts. — On the Road, Jack KerouacFunny what sticks with you. This has always been one of my favorite passages from On the Road, a book rife with memorable passages.
I guess I just love the way it so succinctly captures an aspect of life—that little unintended intruder, that bug that catches you on your way to some great adventure, and lays you low. Bugs are the great democratizers, are they not? Well, the one that's hit me this week may not have been born out of a shady Colorado dell, but it certainly came out of an American afternoon. Wednesday afternoon, to be exact.
And here, late Sunday night, I'm praying that it's done with me. I've been through a hacking cough, a snot-filled face, 3 boxen of tissue. I'm just Beat-tired. The only thing that's not yet worn thin is my wife's incredible patience. And... it pains me to say it... her sore throat started yesterday, and cough today. Which puts her right on schedule for real fireworks starting tomorrow. I'm sorry, honey. I'll make it up to you somehow, I swear.