The one I wrote when I had a cold
(clears throat, which turns into a small coughing fit)
Sorry. Yeah. Hi. Well, we've been meeting here for several weeks now, and so far we've learned that (1) I'm a terrible procrastinator with obsessive-compulsive tendencies, (2) you guys don't talk much and (3) the tentacles may all be in my head. At least, the dog is the only other person who seems to be able to see them.
Since I'm not feeling up to much today, I'll keep this one – ah – ah – (holds finger up in mute plea for audience patience, before turning away and doubling over)
Short. I'll keep this one short.
Have you ever noticed – and I make this observation with no bitterness at all, mind you – how the protagonists of fantasy fiction almost never seem to catch the common cold? Maimed, stabbed, blinded, hacked and gouged, I grant you, but not once do they have to suffer the special humiliation of a red nose, blocked sinuses and a cough that could cut through a plank of wood. One can only assume that most fantasy worlds have, for whatever reason, failed to evolve a highly adaptable and easily transmittable virus of the kind we are so familiar with ourselves. Really, it's pretty darn lucky that none of the people who have ever found a way through from our world to another had a cold at the time. Think of the havoc that could have been wreaked on the unsuspecting immune systems of the indigenous populations.
Of course, there is another possibility, which is that authors hate making their characters appear undignified. Life-threatening injuries are fine. A few scars or missing limbs just show off how noble and heroic a character is. But there's nothing very noble or heroic about walking around with half a Kleenex stuffed up each nostril.* Because, let's face it, authors want readers to find their characters attractive – not necessarily in a would-love-to-sleep-with-them way (though that always helps), but certainly in a they're-so-goddamn-awesome way. And a cold, my friends, is the very opposite of awesome. A cold is where writerly dedication to making a character 'real' takes a little detour.**
(blows nose defiantly with a sound like a honking goose)
And that's it. In the words of Bilbo Baggins, a notable exception to the no-colds rule, 'thag you very buch' for coming. Please help yourselves to Lemsip and Vicks VapoRub on your way out.
* Believe me.
** This detour also handily avoids questions such as sewage arrangements, the personal hygiene levels of people who have been on the road for days, and the whole issue of toothbrushes in a faux-medieval society. Some things, we just don't want to know about.