I don’t know how much money I spent this past Valentine’s Day, but I hope it was worth it. I should find out soon, I hope. How much time in the sack do I have to look forward to? I hope the bare minimum.

See, I have this massive head cold that I can’t shake. What…you think I was talking about a woman? No…Valentine’s Day was spent in a totally non-traditional fashion, except the headache part, of course. The money I spent was on a case of Zicam, a crate of chicken soup, and enough Sudafed to rival Arkansas on the national meth lab watch list.

I hate being sick. I fully enjoy being a comic. And I’d rather do it while feeling 100%. Some people call me a germaphobe, but I simply remain aware of situations that could get me ill. I admit, though…it’s grown to extremes. Not to the point of an obsessive compulsive, but I’m maybe three strategically-placed Purell bottles away from that level.

I’m fully aware of my neurotic behavior. For example, the other day I was in a subway car on which I and another man were the only passengers. He was standing by the door, ready for a quick exit as soon as the doors opened (I like to think those types of hurried New Yorkers are superheroes who use mass transit to mask their mutation powers). While he stood there, he clutched the metal bar that ran lengthwise overhead…the same metal bar that hundreds of people grab every hour. When the train was delayed for a minute, he released his grip…and then proceeded to bite his fingernails.

Maybe I should have minded my own business, but I asked him, “Why don’t you just chew on the feet of a dead rat?”

Then something weird occurred. He looked at me coldly and replied, “You got the cash?”

So…either he thought I was with the show Fear Factor and would have gone through with that challenge if I only had a rodent carcass and a briefcase full of hundreds. Or… “Why don’t you just chew on the feet of a dead rat” was the code phrase needed to complete an illegal drug and/or weapons transaction.

Whatever the case, I wanted to get out of there. I just told him, “I hope your white blood cells fight as well as the SuperFriends.”

He looked perturbed and exited. Meanwhile, back at the Hall of Justice, his superhero buddies were oblivious to the microscopic infestation silently heading their way.

I considered the possibility that I, not Bacteria Wonderboy, was the strange one on the subway. Maybe, just maybe, I should ratchet down the germaphobia before Zoloft commercials become appealing.

If not, my recurring dream may come true one day. I often dream that I’m with friends at a restaurant. I catch myself looking at the posted health code and wondering about the small percentage that went against the establishment. I ask my friends, “They only got a 93%. How many percentage points do you think botulism is worth?”

Not unlike reality, they mock me: “No more than 3%.”

Me: “You think someone spit in the sour cream?”

“Yeah, Keith. Some guy spit in the food and they still scored a 93. They slipped the health inspector a 50 to look away while the cook lodged snot in your taco salad.”

This, by the way, is the kind of dream in which I know I’m dreaming, but can’t force myself to wake up. I curse my alarm clock and my friends who were supposed to stay awake while I tried to escape Freddy Krueger viruses.

At the end of the dream, I get to the counter to place my order, but I can’t concentrate thanks to the loud sounds of my buddies sarcastically clearing their nasal sinuses. I tell the Asian man at the Tex-Mex counter, “I’ll have the #3 combo…86 the botulism.” Then I point to my eyes with two fingers, then point to him, like a secret agent warning someone that he’s being watched.

The Asian-Texan-Mexican says, “No botulism? That’s the #5 combo.”

That’s when I wake up screaming, and there’s a homeless man on the N train who hands me a tin foil hat, and with a comforting voice says, “I hear them too, man. I hear them too.”

I hope you all had a Happy Valentine’s Day. I’m going to lick the giant block of Vitamin C that I had installed in my living room.

Categories: Columns