Duck me, I'm sick

Bai Som Thai Kitchen

CHEAP EATS It had been a few years since I'd been sick, and I'd forgotten how to do it. I walked around in the rain, looking for this party. And when I found it, I stayed until almost the end. Then I called up the Boy Who I'm Kissing and asked if I could come over and kiss him.

In my defense, I didn't know at the time that I was sick sick, as in the flu. I thought it was just lung cancer or something, from breathing all the smoke that I breathe. One of the advantages of an active imagination is hypochondria, or what I call "my sick mind" — without which I would never have compiled this amazing record of miraculous recoveries.

I have bested brain tumors by closing one eye and opening the other real wide. I've conquered cardiac arrest with cups of hot tea and survived strokes by slapping the side of my head, then getting some rest.

So the combination of my sick mind and an actually pretty fucking healthy body means that when I do get sick sick, as in the flu, I tend to think I can lick it by licking the Boy Who I'm Licking, or drinking more wine than usual, or stepping away from my smoky shack in the woods for a weekend.

This is unfortunate, and not just for the Boy Who I'm Infecting. It's unfortunate for me because I probably would have been better by now if I'd gone, "Oh, the flu," and stayed home in bed with Weirdo the Cat. And it's unfortunate for Weirdo the Cat, who could have been warm and cozy and well fed while I stayed in bed with her all weekend, albeit moaning and groaning.

As it was, Mookie got to get me in his bed, moaning and groaning, which, on the surface, might have seemed like business as usual, woo-hoo, but trust me, this wasn't like that. It was the first time ever that we didn't have sex. I just laid there with my eyes kind of open, coughing inconsolably and gradually realizing that it wasn't lung cancer, goddamn it, but the flu.

By morning I hurt so bad I couldn't even speak straight. "You have a sick chicken farmer on your hands," I tried to say. But it came out "chick sicken farmer."

He brought me coffee in bed, as usual, and offered to go to the store for Robitussin.

I was pretty sure I had cough syrup at home with codeine in it. Probably four years old, and certainly someone else's prescription. But without codeine, cough syrup has never done much for me. It's like duck soup without duck in it. Or chicken soup. I love chicken soup. And tea, and rest. But only two things can cure the common cold, and they are, in order of efficacy, duck soup and codeine.

Thinking I was closer to duck soup than codeine, I spent an hour on Mookie's couch with a laptop and a telephone. Oakland's Chinatown was just on the other side of the tunnel, for crying out loud.

And failing that, Crawdad de la Cooter's freezer was in Berkeley. I happened to know that there were wild ducks in it. However, restraining orders prevent me from raiding her refrigerator, or coming over without calling first, or, um ... writing about her in Cheap Eats.

I'm delirious. How, in other words, did I wind up without my face in a bowl of dark, rich, greasy, spicy duck soup? It was through no fault of Mookie's. Let me rephrase that: it was all his fault. Because when Thanh Ky had a line out the door into the rain, he remembered for sure seeing duck soup at a place in Alameda. Only they were closed. Sunday.

For future reference, I'm never going to start seeing someone ever again without first finding out where the closest duck soup is to their house and having little cards printed up with business hours and directions. Then, when I'm laid up with flulike symptoms or the flu and they offer to go get medicine, I can hand them the card like a prescription.

"Ask for extra hot sauce."

I'll either say that or have it printed on the card.

My new favorite restaurant is Bai Som Thai Kitchen.

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