Editor's Column

"While sniffling away the weekend, I noticed other people sniffling as well, including a guy in the auto parts portion of Ace Hardware. Must be another native Washingtonian, I thought, who comes down with a cold whenever the weather turns good.There were lots of people with colds last week, including two in our family, but as always in the summer there was a dearth of cold remedy commercials on TV. Why? This is a chance to make money, and yet the big drug companies are ignoring it. Are summer colds limited to this little cloudy corner of the U.S.?Elsewhere, colds aren't associated with summer heat. In Cincinnatti, Ken Griffey, Jr. isn't wiping his nose with his sleeve every time he steps to the plate. On BayWatch, the Babes aren't looking for a minuscule piece of clothing with which to wipe their noses, although that would be a sight to behold. And in Washington, D.C., President Clinton, Ehud Barak and Yasir Arafat aren't talking about the cure for the common summer cold, although it might be simpler than the subjects they're dealing with.Only in the Pacific Northwest are summer colds a problem to be dealt with. Our systems are so accustomed to wet that sunshine and 80 degree temperatures send our bodies into shock, opening the way for long-dormant cold viruses to blossom. It's the equivalent of walking barefoot through a slushy puddle in December. We have our own folklore about summer colds, but it's little known outside our damp corner of the world. My mom, for example, would never let us go outside in the summer without wearing a muffler and mittens, which is why we seldom won swimming races.When we were stricken by a July cold, the remedy was hot chicken soup served in a 100 degree kitchen by a sweaty nurse. Umm, ummm, good. Before bed, out came the Vicks Vapo Rub which the summer heat turned into a room-sized wave of noxious gas. The cold victim and everyone else in the room would pass out and spend a restful night gasping for air. The last one standing was usually Mom, who would tuck us into a stultifying quilt before she too expired. Amazingly, we all survived those summer colds and eventually we learned to blame the symptoms on an allergy in order to avoid the cure.None of our home cures would look very appealing on TV commercials, however, so maybe that explains why the drug companies ignore summer colds. It's hard to create much sympathy for a coughing, wheezing surfer."

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