The Modern Girl’s Guide to Invalidation

Thanks to a spate of disheartening misadventures, the triumph of my victorian temperament, and a few run-ins with communicable disease, I’ve been spending a lot of time flat of my back these last 5 weeks. As any good blogress would, I’ve decided to take these lemons, and post here a culturally-irreverant recipe for lemonade in the hopes that one day it will be reposted to another website with a marginally better readership, and my illness will be validated.

Salty Lemonade, anyone?

First things first: If you’re going to be sick for awhile, you need an Icon of Illness. Now–in Normal Time–you would likely interpret this term in its ghetto sense; your mind might go to, say, Busta Rhymes. But here I want you to take your thoughts back….waaay back to pre-1994 english, when ill meant sick, and sick meant physically unwell.

For my icon, I chose Jane from Pride and Prejudice (if you’re like me and you’ve only seen the film, she’s the blond one with the long neck). Jane takes ill at Mr. Bingley’s after riding through a rainstorm to get there, and then has to trespass upon her host’s kindness and stay over for a few days while she recovers. I chose Jane as my Icon of Illness for a few reasons:

  • She always did really great things with her hair while she was in bed. Fanned out like Princess Diana’s wedding veil on the pillow beside her in Bingley’s four-poster bed, or tangled ever so slightly by the damp of fever, Jane’s hair can be a reminder to us all that physical health is only a small part of looking good.
  • Jane has a great wan smile. Kind yet pained, hopeful yet pained, Jane’s smile reinforced her good nature without leaving any of her attendant doctors, sisters, servants, or Romantic Possibilities in any doubt that here lay one sick puppy.
  • Finally, Jane never really seemed to know quite how to tell anyone that she was ill. You may recall from the film version that in the midst of answering a question from those bitchy sisters of Bingley’s, she simply drops her head into her attendant hand with a fevered sigh. This is how she asks to be excused. On this point, I have to admit that it’s more a case of empathy than emulation. Chatty as I am, I tend to mull over the gravity of my symptoms long before I’ll take my leave. What can I say? Girls like us would rather get carried out of the room than be accused of faking it.

Now that you’ve chosen your Icon of Illness, you might want to take stock of your symptoms. Here I’ll say a few words about the classics I’ve been dealing with, and that should get you thinking about how you want to approach your own little list of grievances.

Begin with a furrowed brow. Something’s wrong down there, and you’re gonna show it……up here! Furrow that brow! And stop eating stuff. Everyone has a different idea of what ingestibles are good for tackling nausea, but in my opinion you can’t make something out of nothing, so put in nothing and you won’t barf up something!

Loss of Appetite:
You might think that the message here would be the same as above, but I’d temper it just a bit. Eventually, not eating will lead to other symptoms–like falling down–so when you can find your way to suffering a crumb, make it one hell of a crumb. Put some butter on it, and make sure it’s expensive, salted danish butter. If you’re operating an exclusive venue, then make sure everyone you let in is a VIP!

This one can be tricky. Everyone says they’re tired, but when does fatigue go from a plain old complaint, to a fabulous cause for concern?! Huffing and puffing from normal exertions can be a clue, but I’d look a little deeper before you quite make up your mind. Sometime in June I stopped applying elaborate eye-makeup. I told myself that it was because I was embracing a fresher, easier look for summer, but in hindsight I see that something was going terribly wrong. I simply couldn’t be bothered then, and even now I continue to exist on a meagre application of concealer, mascara, Diorskin compressed powder, lip liner and a well-chosen lipstick. When I see it now written down, it’s all so clear.

And as a final thought on how to navigate the rocky terrains of illness, I’d take you to the place where it all began–the origin of your illness.
To discover this, you’ll need to Appoint A Witch.

Any discussion of symptoms and of the state of one’s health in general is far more interesting against a backdrop of betrayal and sin. You’re sick and it ain’t ‘cuz God made you that way so whose fault is it? Clearly you’ve made out with an agent of Satan and the more people you inform of this, the more people will take an interest in your illness (and your life generally!)
And don’t forget the incredible motivational thrust of revenge. Nothing will have you back on your feet faster (or attempting wit from a horizontal posture sooner!) than the desire to move beyond the clutches of Satan and into the realm of polite society once more.
After all, for every slobbering devil from the fires of hell, there’s an angel in scrubs who is religious with the hand sanitizer not far behind!

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2 Comments on “The Modern Girl’s Guide to Invalidation”

  1. HeVa 4eVa Says:

    So much rests on the wan smile, for sures. I wish I’d been more understated – after my stay in Charite Mitte I think I turned to, er, Evita.

    If you’re looking for wan, can I also suggest, um, whats’er’name, in Henry James’s Wings of the Dove? She also rocked illness in that understated, long-suffering kind of way. Also, I’ve had it confirmed by people who know these things that Henry James really does suck at writing (paragraph long sentences!) – but – was really good at heartbreakingly beautiful story-lines, which makes it a good idea to only watch film adaptations of his books, instead of swimming through his porridgey sentences. whhhhiiich…makes The Wings of the Dove good afternoon-curled-up-in-bed-watching if you can get a copy.

    Feel better soon xxxx

  2. salty wisdom Says:

    That sounds so good—and what’s more—I’ve neither read, nor seen it! So I can cleverly by-pass the muddy book part, and cut straight to the lusty (?—I assume it must be at least a bit lusty) filmy-film.
    Sounds like the perfs night in for the recovering gal!

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