I was on campus the other day, tanning, texting, and reading the Times on my phone, behind a professorial-looking man and his young daughter. There were several open tables on that empty patio, thus it beats me why they chose the one closest to the ledge I sprawled out on. Maybe it’s because I looked so scholar-chic with the unassuming canvas bag, sensible shoes, and unopened library book at my side. I was role-model material for this guy’s growing girl, which put an added pressure on me to do everything I could to shield her from seeing me pop ibuprofen tablets like they were Skittles.
If I’m even considering the idea of swallowing an over-the-counter pill, it means I’m melting. I’ve reached last-resort row, where it’s swallow or be swallowed. When I’d been writhing in toothache pain the night before, I thought about the first time (and one of the only times) a similar 5-alarm fire broke out across my jaw. It was years ago, when I lived in Boston, a metro area that had been on my mind all day. After monitoring my mouth and asking all the right questions to size me up as a compulsive gum-chomping, teeth-clenching Type A personality, the late-night Emergency Room examiner advised me to cut back on stress and periodically toss back ibuprofen tablets like they’re Skittles until the symptoms sail away. No problem.