Sunday, January 28, 2007

Tales from the Neti Pot

I'm sick. Or, rather, I'm trying desperately hard NOT to be sick. I came home from work Thursday with "hot throat"; you know, that hot, dry feeling you get way up at the top of your throat? Well, that's always a harbinger of ill-feeling for me, and I quickly downed a couple of Airbornes. Friday morning, sure enough, I hurt every time I swallowed. I started in on the chicken broth, Motrin, and frequent trips to the bathroom to Neti myself. For those of you who are uninitiated in the ways of the Neti pot, allow me to explain: the pot is a little ceramic teapot-looking character with a handle on one end and a tapered spout on the other. Fill this with 1/2-tsp. sea salt and stir to dissolve in hot water. (There are various other concoctions and potions that are available, but for me the salt alone works best.) Then, stick the spout up one nostril (yes, you heard me), tip your head sideways...and pour. Magically, the warm salty water makes a trip through your sinuses and...proceeds to drizzle out your OTHER nostril! The water clears out your nasal passages, and the salt both disinfects AND allows the membranes up there to stay moist. (Sorry, Kat. I know you hate that word...) If this sounds like the OPPOSITE of sexy to you...well, I suppose it is. Let the record show, however, that my pot was a gift from Miss Tessmacher, and that the winter months commonly find us fighting over the sink in a nostril-dripping race to be the first one done so as to get to bed faster. To read, of one gets laid after Neti-ing. No one.

I'm an odd mixture when it comes to sickness: I like holistic things like the Neti pot, and this vile sore-throat "tea" I found in one of our herbals (1 tsp. apple cider vinegar, dash of cayenne pepper, splash of lemon juice, 1 tsp. honey; stir thoroughly in hot water). But, I also take a Motrin every 4 hours, and I besot myself with Robitussin nighttime formula anti-cough syrup before bed. (Might as well take a shot of whiskey...oh, wait, I did that too...) Apparently I'm a slave to both the health food aisle AND the giant pharmas. And I know that most of this simply treats symptoms, 'cause there's no cure for a cold. Whatever. The hilarious part of all this is when I do things that are so obviously contra-indicated for a sore throat: I drink coffee in the morning, smoke cigarettes with my visiting mother, and consume dark chocolate & red wine at night. Hey, wait though: red wine is alcohol...that KILLS germs, right? Yeah, lemme go get another glass...

When I'm sick I like to be left alone on the couch with "comfort movies." Last night I was in the mood for Saturday Night Fever, and I was struck again with the notion that Tony Manero might just be one of the best fictional anti-heroes ever. As a kid in the 70s, I was only vaguely aware of this disco movie, and shunned it entirely as having nothing to do with Kiss. (Conveniently overlooking the fact that Kiss had released a quasi-disco album at the same time...) I didn't see the movie for almost 25 years, but heard as part of his eulogy that Gene Siskel considered the film to be the greatest ever made. Siskel even went so far as to acquire Travolta's white suit at an auction. I picked the movie up, and now consider it to be one of my faves. Thing is...the movie isn't even ABOUT disco. The scuzzy nightlife of 2001 Odyssey serves only as a backdrop against the real story, which is the journey Tony Manero makes on his way to manhood. This is a coming-of-age story that bears witness to the painful transformation of a do-nothing bigot from the Bronx into someone who actually GETS IT. Manero is immediately unlikeable: he's a good-looking punk who sort of slides through his day-t0-day life, waiting only for those few hours on the weekend when he can blow his earnings at the disco. He's vehemently bigoted (asking his friends at one point "Would you put your dick in a spic, or does it get bigger in a nigger?"), and makes a clear distinction between the women he loves (his mother and sister) and all the others (who are merely partners for dancing or fucking). His gang of friends are all the same, brazen late-teen Italians who swagger through life thinking that one day they'll "put some money together" and buy a Cadillac.

Even so...we get hints early on that Tony is different. Even though he loves his mother, he calls her on her hypocrisy ("You're gonna go to church to ask God to have Father Frank call you? You're turnin' God into a messenger service!"), and he clearly makes no apologies for his actions (when pressed by newfound dance interest Stephanie as to why he never went to college he bristles "I just didn't! Okay?!?"). Everyone else in the movie has some sort of hidden agenda except Tony: he wants to dance, he wants to get laid, and he'll work a menial job in a hardware store to afford these things while living rent-free in his parents' house. By the end of the movie, though, he is transformed: when a Puerto Rican couple CLEARLY outdance him and Stephanie in the climactic scene, he chides his friends for failing to acknowledge that the contest was rigged. His eyes now opened, he takes the 1st place trophy and cash award, hands them to the Puerto Rican couple (who are already thrilled at their 2nd place showing) and storms out of the club. He shuns the girl Annette (whom he had earlier claimed "Only wanted to be another married sister."), then attempts to keep her from getting gang-banged in the back seat by his buddies. At the end of the film he flees his dwindling group of friends and wanders the city, finally ending up at Stephanie's apartment. Despite attempting to rape her earlier she lets him in and his transformation is complete: we finally get to see that he's known all along that his friends are losers and that his life is going nowhere, and now he wants to DO SOMETHING about it. Where he was once tough and unapproachable, here he is open and vulnerable, and the film closes on that scene.

I don't remember enough of the sequel Stayin' Alive to know whether or not Travolta's character follows through with his plans; that drastic bomb never should have been shot in the first place. I'm happy to think that Tony DOES get his shit together, and I guess I never tire of watching him make that journey, seeing as I'll watch it every few months. And now, if you'll pardon me...I need to go make my sore throat concoction. "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble..."


Blogger Lisa said...

My dad does something similar, just without the pot. He actually kind of snorts warm water up his nose to clear the nasal passage. I've never had the courage to purposely put water in my nose, no matter how miserable I am.

Honestly I've don't think I've ever sat down and watched Saturday Night Fever start to finish...I'll have to do that someday soon, been on a bit of an old movie kick lately. I introduced Jimmy to Spaceballs tonight...he loved it! Next up is showing Mack Grease...since it's the storyline her beloved High School Musical kind of copied ('cept that one's Disney so no pregnancy scares or gettin' lots of tit in songs)

6:58 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I have a neti pot too, and I agree it's an awesome idea and totally prevents sinus infections and whatnotall. Unfortunately, I'd rather scrub the litter box than actually use the thing. The first time I tried it all the snotty, salty water poured back into my throat and I gagged. (That was a turn-on.) I've improved my technique since then--you really have to snort the water if you're stuffed up, rather than just pouring passively--but I still find it a loathesome exercise.

Hope you're feeling better. :)

8:58 AM  
Blogger Suze said...

ah, snorting warm salt water. Been there. When i was pregnant (how many comments have I left on this blog that start with that sentence lately? sheesh), I got a cold, and of course wasn't allowed to take any medication, so the ONLY thing I could do was the salt water thing. it worked surprisingly well.

oh, and you've got a ways to go before i get grossed out. i spend a lot of time with singers, which means i've been witness to many conversations about the color, consistency and location of mucous, not to mention various ways of expelling it. one mezzo i know fondly named her neti thingy the "nasal douche."

11:14 AM  
Blogger L*I*S*A said...

My tidbit for the day:

"It takes two weeks to rid oneself of a cold without going to the doctor, and 14 days if you do."

Bottom line...if that pot o' snot makes you feel better, go for it. Either way, the virus will run its course.

Can you see Mark doing this? Not so much.

11:57 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

After watching you use the Neti thing, i'll stick to tissue.

How many people do you know who hate the word...MOIST?

10:28 PM  
Blogger Tess said...

Thanks Scott. From now, whenever I Neti, I will always hear the theme song from Saturday Night Fever. A song that once made me think of the supposed glam life of the 1970s, complete with visions of John Travolta sliding across the dance floor, shall forever more aid in the sliding out of snot from my nose.

11:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, don't ever say that "M" word again. I'm hearing it enough in nursing school.

12:43 PM  
Blogger Kim said...

I'll have to make sure my husband never sees this blog. He's been telling me to snort salt water for years, and I can't bring myself to do it. The world is ugly enough...

3:34 PM  

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