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A short story by George V. Hobart

You Should Worry About Getting The Grip

Title:     You Should Worry About Getting The Grip
Author: George V. Hobart [More Titles by Hobart]

Say! did you ever put on the goggles and go joy-riding with an attack of grip?

It has all other forms of amusement hushed to a lullaby--take it from Uncle Hank.

As a Bad Boy the grip has every other disease slapped to a sobbing stand-still.

It's dollars to pretzels that the grip germ is the brainiest little bug that was ever chased by a doctor.

I was sitting quietly at home reading Maeterlinck on Auction Bridge when suddenly I began to sneeze like a Russian regiment answering roll call.

Friend wife was deep in the mysteries of Ibsen's latest achievement, "The Rise and Fall of the Hobble Skirt," but she politely acknowledged my first sneeze with the customary "Gesundheit!"

Then she trailed along bravely with her responses for ten or fifteen minutes, but it was no use--I had more sneezes in my system than there are "Gesundheits!" in the entire German nation, including principalities, possessions across the sea, and the Musical Union.

"John," she ventured after a time, "you are getting a cold!"

"I'm not getting it," I sniffed; "I have it now."

What a mean, contemptible little creature a grip germ must be. Absolutely without any of the finer instincts, it sneaks into people's systems disguised as an ordinary cold. It isn't on the level, like appendicitis or inflammatory rheumatism, both of which are brave and fearless and will walk right up to you and kick you on the shins, big as you are.

Nobody ever knows just what make-up the grip germs will put on to break into the human system, but once they get a foothold in the epiglottis nothing can remove them except inward applications of dynamite.

The grip germ hates the idea of race suicide.

I discovered shortly after I had sneezed myself into a condition of pale blue profanity that a newly married couple of grip germs had taken a notion to build a nest somewhere on the outskirts of my solar plexus, and two hours later they had about 233 children attending the public school in my medusa oblongata; and every time school would let out for recess I would go up in the air and hit the ceiling with my Lima.

Before daylight came all these grip children had graduated from school and, after tearing down the school-house, the whole bunch had married and had large families of their own, and all hands were out paddling their canoes on my alimentary canal.

By nine o'clock that morning there must have been eighty-five million grip germs armed with self-loading revolvers all trying to shoot their initials over the walls of my interior department.

It was fierce!

When Doctor Leiser arrived on the scene I was carrying enough concealed weapons to start something in Mexico.

The good old pill-pusher threw his saws behind the sofa, put his dip-net on the mantelpiece, and took a fall out of my pulse.

"Ah!" he said, after he had noted that my tongue looked like a currycomb.

"The same to you, Doc," I said.

"Ah!" he said, looking hard at the wall.

"Say, Doc!" I whispered; "there's no use to cut off my leg because the germs will hide in my elbow."

"Do you feel shooting pains in the cerebellum, near the apex of the cosmopolitan?" inquired the doctor.

"Surest thing you know," I said.

"Have you a buzzing in the ears, and a confused sound like distant laughter in the panatella?" he asked.

"It's a cinch, Doc," I said.

"Do you feel a roaring in the cornucopia with a tickling sensation in the diaphragm?" he asked.

"Right again," I whispered.

"Do the joints feel sore and pinched like a pool-room?" he said.


"Does your tongue feel rare and high-priced, like a porterhouse steak at a summer resort?"


"Do you feel a spasmodic fluttering in the concertina?"


"Have you a sort of nervous hesitation in your hunger and does everything you eat taste like an impossible sandwich made by a ghostly baker from a disappearing bread and phantom?"


"Does your nerve center tinkle-tinkle like a breakfast bell in a kitchenless boarding house?"

"Right again!"

"Have you a feeling that the germs have attacked your Adam's apple and that there won't be any core?"


"When you look at the wall paper does your brain do a sort of loop-the-loop and cause you to meld 100 aces or double pinochle?"

"Yes, and 80 kings, too!"

"Do you feel a slight palpitation of the membrane of the colorado madura and is there a confused murmur in your brain like the sound of a hard-working gas meter?"

"You've got me sized good and plenty, Doc!"

"Do you have insomnia, nightmare, loss of appetite, chills and fever and concealed respiration in the Carolina perfecto?"

"That's the idea, Doc."

"When you lay on your right side do you have an impulse to turn over on your left side, and when you turn over on your left side do you feel an impulse to jump out of bed and throw stones at a policeman?"

"There isn't anything you can mention, Doc, that I haven't got."

"Ah!" said the doctor; "then that settles it."

"Tell me the truth," I groaned; "what is it, bubonic plague?"

"You have something worse--you have the grip," Doc Leiser whispered gently. "You see I tried hard to mention some symptom which you didn't have, but you had them all, and the grip is the only disease in the world which makes a specialty of having every symptom known to medical jurisprudence."

Then the doctor got busy with the pencil gag and left me enough prescriptions to keep the druggist in pocket money throughout the winter.

Then my friends and relatives began to drop in and annoy me with suggestions.

"Pop" Barclay sat by my bedside and, after I had barked for him two or three times, he decided I had inflammation of the lungs and was insistent that I tie a rubber band around my chest and rub myself with gasolene.

I told Pop I had no desire to become a human automobile so he got mad and went home. But before he got mad he drank six bottles of beer and before he went home he invited himself back to dinner.

Then Hep Hardy dropped in and ten minutes later he had me making signs for an undertaker.

Hep comes to the bedside of the afflicted in the same restful manner that a buzz-saw associates with a log of pine.

He insisted upon taking my pulse and listening to my heart beats, but when he attempted to turn my eyelids back to see if I had a touch of the glanders every germ in my body rose in rebellion and together we chased Hep out of the room.

The next calamity was Teddy Pearson, who had an apartment on the floor above us. Teddy had spent the previous night at a Tango party and ever since daylight he had been beating home to windward. His cargo had shifted and the seaway was rough. Still clad in the black and white scenery with the silk bean-cover somewhat mussed he groped across the darkened room and solemnly shook hands with me.

Then he sat in a chair by the bedside and began to sing soft lullabies to a hold-over.

Presently he reached out his arm and made all the gestures that go with the act of hitting a bell to summon a waiter.

Receiving no answer to his thirsty appeal he arose and said, "This is a heluva club--rottenest service in this club--s'limit, that's what it is, s'limit!" Then he hiccoughed his weary way out of the room and I haven't seen him since.

An hour later Uncle Louis Miffendale had looked me over and concluded I had galloping asthma, compressed tonsilitis, chillblainous croup, and incipient measles. He insisted that I take three grains of quinine, two grains of asperine, rub the back of my neck with benzine, soak my ankles in kerosene, then a little phenacetine, and a hot whiskey toddy every half hour before meals.

If I found it hard to take the toddy he volunteered to run in every half hour and help me.

Then his wife, Aunt Jessica, blew in with a decoction she called catnip tea. She brought it all the way from the Bronx in a thermos bottle, so I had to drink it or lose a perfectly respectable old aunt.

It tasted like a linoleum cocktail--weouw!

During the rest of the day every friend and relative I have in the world rushed in, suggested a sure cure, and then rushed out again.

Peaches tried them all on me and I felt like the inside of a medicine chest.

To make matters worse I drank some dogberry cordial and it chased the catnip tea all over my concourse.

Then Peaches, being a student of natural history, insisted that I take some hoarhound, I suppose to bite the dogberry, but it didn't.

Blood will tell, so the hoarhound joined forces with the dogberry and chased the catnip up my family tree.

Suffering antiseptics! everybody with a different remedy, from snake poison to soothing syrup--but it cured the grip.

Now all I have to do is to cure the medicine.

[The end]
George V. Hobart's short story: You Should Worry About Getting The Grip