I have a friend who tells me I’m sickly. She makes that statement based on years of observation that the cold and flu season affects me in June as often as in January.

I have another friend who insists I have moved hypochondria out of the realm of a minor neurosis and placed it in the category of fine art. She wonders where I took my degree. She has, let me add, a theological bent, and patterns her language after the hyperboles of Jesus. You might say she comes from the can-a-camel-go-through-the-eye-of-a-needle school.

I dismiss both of these theories. I’m just a warm, caring person, I tell such friends. And germs know it. They can sense these things. Any stray bacterium or friendly virus who happens by knows a good home when he sees it. So, in my sincere and honest way, I open myself up for hurt. (I think that also shows I’m a child of the 1970s.) Not only that, but my hospitality doesn’t last for a mere three- or four-day stretch, which is the average length of time most of my acquaintances allow a germ to visit. I throw open my sinuses and my larynx for three, sometimes four, weeks. Why should a bacterium and his family settle for a short stay with someone else when I’m around? They hardly get settled in bronchial tubes elsewhere when the antibodies arrive to say, “Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry,” or make such suggestions as, “You don’t want to outstay your welcome, do you?”

My antibodies, on the other hand, take hospitality as seriously as the Jews did in first-century Palestine. I’m sure I can hear them mutter something like, “entertain angels unawares.” But it’s not always easy to penetrate the congestion, so I could be wrong.

Now, I know that they know how hospitable I am. And when you’ve got antibodies and nasal ...

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