People talk about "catching the rowing bug," and how it completely alters their lives. This phrase takes on a whole new meaning when we need to sneak out of work to travel to a regatta -- either as participants, or to cheer on our siblings, our former teammates, or our children. I count myself very fortunate to have a boss who grew up in a rowing town, and who never questions why I call in sick with the same illness on the third Friday of every May. For those of you whose work may conflict with rowing schedules, here are some suggestions to help you break free:
Stotesbury Flu -- a mutation -- and even more virulent form -- of Mannyflickitis. Highly contagious, it can infect as many as six thousand people simultaneously, incapacitating them for 48 hours at a stretch. Symptoms typically abate just in time for the onset of Scholasticsepticemia.
Quinsigamond Malaria -- most doctors can't spell this one, let alone diagnose it, so it's unlikely anyone will question you too closely about where you've been. Even the most suspicious boss will encourage you to quarantine yourself and get plenty of bed-rest. Q-mal carries the likelihood of periodic convenient relapses throughout the sprint racing season, requiring careful treatment with EARC, EAWRC, or NERC vaccines.
Bubonic Vail Typhus -- immunities of age groups vary, with college-age and recent graduates being the most susceptible. Pathology begins on second Thursday of May, mounts in intensity until the temperature breaks late Saturday -- except for those victims who forgot which weekend Vails is, and who accidentally contract a less serious case of the disease one week later.
Classic San Diego Conjunctivitis -- spreading eastwards, perhaps in bee pollen, or in improperly aged wines. Recovering SD victims can be diagnosed by their deep, even tans, and much-too-radiant smiles. Intensity of symptoms varies in proportion to severity of winter weather in the rest of the US.
Pernicious Occoquanitis -- you can catch this from infected rigger bolts, and there is hardly an office in the greater DC or northern Virginia area which has not suffered an outbreak at one time or another.
Smoky Mountain Spotted Fever -- (Oak Ridge variant) the growing southeastern rowing scene has raised this malady to the top of the Center for Disease Control's watch list.
Multiple Cuyuganosis -- windy/chilly conditions at this rowing venue contribute to rapid onset of symptoms. One glimpse of white water off the blade of an oar, and you're infected.
Harsha Lake Dysentery -- Early detection and intervention is the key to this one. Lots of my friends who rowed for St. Ignacious used to get this, and some of them still have relapses whenever they need to get back to the thriving Ohio rowing scene.
Maxinkuckee Pox -- your boss sure wouldn't want you bringing this one back to the office. Grab an oar and wait for your fever to break.
St. Catharine's Syndrome -- a pathology similar to Henley Fever (see below) makes accurate diagnosis difficult. So far, the disease has confined it ravages pretty much to the North American continent.
HOCR Streptococcus -- Formerly confined to the Boston, MA area, now spreading relentlessly throughout the US, Canada, and the rest of the world -- often affecting upwards of 300,000 people at one time. The tannin from falling autumnal foliage is thought to trigger symptoms. Extremely infectious in its early stages, but with a high survival rate. Most victims recover within a few days.
Henley Fever -- Outbreaks of this disease propagate worldwide, reaching epidemic proportions in late spring and early summer. Symptoms include: quoting Browning's "Oh, to Be in England Now," wearing white flannels, and singing "I Vow to Thee My Country" at the top of one's lungs. Delirious victims often imagine they are aboard British Airways flight 184 dressed in blazers and straw boaters. Victims should not be approached except by trained medical professionals. Symptoms may be mitigated by copious doses of fresh strawberries. No known cure.