Vaccine Dreams

January Men's Room column

If early reports are correct, COVID-19 vaccines will begin rolling out as this issue goes to print. As we look forward to life getting back to normal, it’s made me reflect on other, less dangerous but still very annoying, conditions for which I wish there were vaccines:

Corona & Salsa Virus: Strikes the morning of Seis de Mayo after an evening downing far too many greasy tacos and cheap Mexican beers.

COVID-20: The irrational compulsion to loudly, and sans mask, inform others of the many common health threats “so much worse” than COVID-19. Often quickly followed by a fever, dry cough, and ICU visit.

Skinffluenza: Sufferers are totally preoccupied with the state of their skin, such that even the slightest blemish causes them to fake sick so as not to be seen in public.

Me-sles: The tendency to share minor health struggles in excruciating detail on social media. Symptoms include posting rash pics, “why me?” hashtags, and a sudden loss of Instagram followers.

Chin-gles: Strikes older men with failing eyesight, short attention spans, and diminished concern for their physical appearance. Sufferers sport thorny patches of facial hair missed during cursory morning shaves that are as obvious as they are disturbing to family members and friends.

Hipatitis: Generally affects recently divorced men who, rather than confront their loneliness, deny it by frantically pursuing the latest fads. Sufferers often wear shockingly expensive sneakers or super trendy hats and T-shirts designed for men half their age.

Holdpees Simplex #1: Infects primarily the married male driver who demonstrates a strong aversion to stopping at rest stops often with the goal of “beating rush hour around Raleigh.”

Lemon & Lime Dis-ease: When out to eat, those afflicted feel compelled to tell fellow diners about the NPR story they heard about how restaurant citrus wedges are “crawling with all kinds of nasty bacteria.” Side effects include loss of appetite by all at the table.

Mallarea: A condition that results in disorientation as soon as one enters a shopping mall, resulting in desperate meandering, exhausting circumlocutions of food courts, and existential dread.

Schlepsis: Sufferers feel driven to carry a carload of groceries to the kitchen in one ill-advised, overburdened trip, often resulting in squished bread and broken eggs. Affects adolescents and men of all ages.

Tubular-cosis: The compulsion to talk like a surfer dude despite being a suburban dad.

Thaifuss: An odd condition where the afflicted interrogates servers at Asian restaurants to ensure their menu selections will not be to any degree spicy, leaving fellow diners mystified as to why this person wanted to dine in such a restaurant in the first place.

Yeezy Infection: An overwhelming and all-encompassing love of Kanye West completely out of proportion to his talent or potential as a presidential candidate.

West Vile virus: An overwhelming and all-encompassing hatred of Kanye West completely out of proportion to his importance in world affairs.

TzatZika Virus: (from the Greek) an overwhelming compulsion to drown all foods in creamy, calorie-rich sauces.

Dylan Patterson is a writer and filmmaker who teaches English at Cape Fear Community College.

To view more of illustrator Mark Weber’s work, go to

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Categories: Culture