SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A damned cold has laid me low for a couple of days, making me long for a jolt of Cheracol cough syrup - not the stuff they sell over the counter now - the real stuff I got as a kid, loaded with codeine.
Whenever I got a cold when I was kid - and started hacking - my mother would drag out the Cheracol and give me a good dose. The fact that I would go into a stupor for a couple of hours seemed to escape her - I guess she thought it was the cold bothering me.
That whole experience all came flooding back to me in the past few days when I took Sudafed - a drug I don't like to take at all. Hell, I don't like any drugs anymore - including aspirin.
But when my nose was running like Niagara, I gave up and took a half-dose so I could work without turning my keyboard into a petri dish.
One would think a half-dose would be, well, a half-dose and not that potent. But about a half-hour after gulping the small red pill with a cranberry juice chaser, I was alternately wired and exhausted, suddenly thinking about cough syrup.
When I went to Villanova, the campus infirmary would dole out bottles of codeine-laced cough syrup every time you went in. And several of my buddies (who mixed the syrup with Coca-Cola in some kind of weird conconction that tasted awful) would develop cold symptoms every Friday so they would have something to keep them partying through the weekends. And, of course, they encouraged everyone to drop by and pick up a bottle (sometimes two if you got the right doctor or the friendly nurse who dated some of the basketball players).
I never developed a taste for the stuff (probably a realllly good thing), though I confess to getting a fair share of the drug for my buddies. One bottle of cough syrup was good for three or four bottles of Schmidt's of Philadelphia in a trade. I didn't much like the Schmidt's beer either, but a sober weekend? At Villanova? Pleeeeeese...
If the Sudafed doesn't do the trick today, it's on to more serious stuff - Four Roses Blended Whiskey mixed with ginger ale. I'll feel worse in the morning, but the evening will be much better.
Where's that Cheracol when I need it?
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