After last week’s looking at the stars, it’s time for a bit of quality gutter time. Now, in its right place phlegm is harmless, even beneficial. It lubricates your throat to allow things to pass down more easily, a sort of KY Jelly for the mouth (or if you’re on Brokeback Mountain a KY Jelly for the bottom). I have no issue with this type of phlegm. What I do object to is what happens after the two deadbeats from ‘Once Upon a Time... Life’ take over production and it become ‘Sick Phlegm’.
Sick Phlegm is far scarier than any serial killer or shark in Venice. It is the colour and consistency of pus and flows in a constant stream from your nose and mouth. It is unrelenting and yucky and lives in your head. If you’re lucky it restricts itself to the nose and you can manage the whole affair with a good stock of tissues. At present I am not lucky. At present I am coughing up great big globs of glistening jelly, and I’m unsure of the best way to deal with them.
Now, the most obvious way is to spit it into a tissue, assuming you have one to hand. This is generally successful but due to the higher moisture content of throat snot against its nasal brother you have no hope of reusing the now soggy tissue, whereas it could have probably withstood 3 or 4 blows of the nose. Thus you contribute directly to the destruction of the planet. Also, whilst you are fairly sure a sneeze is going to lead to product, the majority of coughing is harmless. This lulls you into a false sense of security until you end up with a dripping sticky hand. Any future action to locate a tissue in pockets/drawers leaves the place looking like the hotel in ‘Ghostbusters’.
Another option is to simply bite the bullet and swallow the phlegm. After all, that’s where it came from, right? No mess, no fuss. Unfortunately it doesn’t taste very nice, a kind of sweet yet salty mixture that would only appeal to connoisseurs of oysters. Also, seeing as how your body is going to all this trouble to get rid of the stuff, it doesn’t really feel like playing the game to just send it right back down there again.
Finally there is the classic if antisocial solution of spitting it out. This is ideal if you’re on your own, or in an open space, but people begin to look at you funnily in the office if you cover their monitors with germ ridden mouth juice. And it doesn’t merely disappear like a murdered video game character or semen. It stays there, silently accusing you until it retracts into a persistent stain.
Worst of all are the times, such as driving along the motorway or making love, when you feel a wet cough coming on but there is nothing to do about it. You are left with the Hobnob’s choice of letting it fly every which way, which at least spreads the problem around a bit, or coughing on your hands and then wiping it in the least noticeable place.
Now I realise I am arguing from a point of prejudice, and if anyone wishes to take up the case for phlegm feel free, but I hate the stuff. It reduces us to filthy diseased beasts. It is the X-Factor of the bodily fluids world.