The worst possible time to have a cold is when it is negative twenty degrees out with the wind chill. I know this because I got a cold in January 2009 when it was well below zero. I had just started a new job and my second semester of my writing program. Thanks to the brisk air (and maybe lack of sleep), the cold metastasized into a sinus infection that cause my molars to ache on the left side of my face. I could barely pay attention to our class discussion on Dreams From My Father, a book I enjoyed and admired and hoped to emulate some day with my inspiring tale of the daughter of immigrants who went into public service. After the class ended at 10:30, I took the subway to the next stop to a 24 hour urgent care clinic. It was so cold out that sick people knew to stay home, so the waiting room was empty. I calculated that this meant it would be an hour before a doctor saw me. An hour later, she apologized for taking so long to get to me, diagnosed a sinus infection, and suggested that I visit a pharmacy one avenue west and two blocks north to fill the prescription ASAP. Since there were no cabs around because it was so cold that the cab drivers stayed home and huddled under electric blankets, I walked. The whipping wind froze my Kleenex onto my runny nose. Then I arrived at CVS and there was no place to sit while I waited for the pharmacist to dole out my drugs because the two chairs were occupied by an abusive man berating his girlfriend. I plunked myself on the floor in front of a display of reading glasses and waited. While I waited, I realized that I was thirsty and hungry, so I helped myself to a ginger ale from the food aisle and pulled a sandwich out of my bag that I had not been able to finish at lunch because my gut was filled with mucus. As I ate my late night snack in my coat and sprayed crumbs onto my scarf, I wondered when CVS would ask the deranged homeless woman wearing a scary bear hat to leave. Before that happened, though, the pharmacist stopped arguing with the abusive guy who was incensed that he could not consume alcohol while using whatever prescription he had filled (I suspected genital warts) and gave my dope. I paid for the meds and the ginger ale. Fortunately, a taxi materialized as I left and then I was home. I think I then took some NyQuil and slept for 20 hours. The second worst time to have a cold is when you are leaving from Chicago for your honeymoon at Disney World. I know this because when Husband and I arrived at Midway Airport ten years ago with plenty of time for our flight to Baltimore, which would then go on to Orlando, I was relieved that we missed it because the schedule had changed and the travel agent neglected to inform us of this. Instead we were placed on a direct flight. My eardrums only exploded in my head twice rather than four times, which was nice. When we arrived in Florida, I could not hear anything out of my left ear and had maybe 25% of my hearing capacity in my right ear. I hate Epcot Center anyway, so I suggested that we visit it that evening since I was already miserable. Fortunately, when I booked our honeymoon room, I chose to save money by getting a room with two double beds rather than one queen (to this day I do not understand why it was cheaper, but it was). Thus I spent the first night of our honeymoon hacking up mucus in one bed while Husband tried to sleep in the other. The next day, I fell asleep on the bus ride over to the Magic Kingdom and possibly also while we were on a slow ride later that day. The humidity did not help my labored mouth breathing. I believe I also ate a lot of ice cream because it was so hot. By the last day, I felt better and I think we might have been able to share a bed. It's sort of hazy.

The third worst time to have a cold is when it is 95 degrees and 95% humid. This is sort of similar to the weather conditions on my honeymoon, but something that I am experiencing right now in New York. Despite the blasting air condition, I am so hot that I cannot tell if I have a fever or am on fire. Since I can't smell smoke because I am congested, it is harder to tell. At least I have regained my voice so I could yell for help if it turns out that my pajama top is in flames. On Saturday I was unable to speak, although I did not have a cough which appeared yesterday. It seems a fair trade off. On the other hand, the toothache set in early this morning, so I have to drag my ass back to the doctor's office, which on Saturday morning said it was just a virus. Thank goodness there's a heat advisory.

At any rate, colds suck.