I’ve had a cold for the past week or so, so Sunday at church I refused to hug an elderly woman on account of my germs. Seconds later I was caught and hugged by another much younger woman before I had time to warn her of my foul contagiousness.

So you’ll hug her and not me? Because you like her better? Or is it because she’s a natural blonde? She fluffed her bobbed gray hair and pretended to glare at me. The elderly woman takes care of her still more elderly husband who has m.s. She also enjoys busting my chops.

Oh no, I said. I just like the idea of her carrying my germs home and making her family sick more than I like the idea of making your family sick, so if anything I like you better.

Then, the daughter of the hugger piped up gravely, as if sickness were being passed around in paper cups like punch at a party: I wouldn’t mind getting sick if it meant Mr Patrick didn’t get sick. Then she ducked her head and buried it in her mother’s skirt.

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