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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Deja vu about the electoral flu

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It's Tuesday, Election Night 2012.

My mancave is my personal vote-counting central, just as it was four years ago.  My son, who watched with me that evening, is on the Marquette campus this time around, holding a personal James Bond movie marathon in his studio apartment.   It's for work, not pleasure, and I assume he'll dip into the returns tonight as he changes discs in the XBox.   I know he voted, so he didn't shirk his civic duty in favor of 007 and Pussy Galore.

What's also missing tonight is that funny feeling that was sweeping my body as the results started pouring in.   It was a sensation that had nothing to do with Obama vs. McCain.   It had everything to do with my respiratory system losing my internal electoral college, where a nasty bug was well on it's way to the 270 votes needed to make this evil bug my personal, unwanted overlord.

I could feel my throat starting to go around the time the Wisconsin polls closed, and an hour later it was pretty obvious to me that I wouldn't be able to go the following morning.   When you work the early shift, you have to make that call early, if nothing else as a courtesy to the poor bastards who'll have to do your job at o-dark-thirty.   I felt robbed, as 2008 was my first chance to host Wisconsin's Morning News the day after a presidential election.   It's a huge event at any news operation, and I cursed the medical gods for taking away my chance to be part of it.

Anger soon gave way to misery.   The night wore on, history was made and I was reaching for more and more blankets.   You know the drill.   And, you know there's no silver bullet to make the crud go away.   I'd be down the rest of the week--the longest sick-day binge I could ever remember being on.   I felt miserable, useless and on the outside looking in.

I was on the mancave couch one of those weekday afternoons, willing to surrender a week's pay just to know what it would be like to feel "normal" again.   The phone rang.  It was my co-hort, Dan O'Donnell, with news that my old station, WKTI, had just changed formats and had become The Lake.    It was Milwaukee radio history, and Dan was anxious to know what I was feeling as the station I'd called home for almost 25 years was vanishing from the airwaves.    I couldn't muster a single poignant, coherent thought.   My flu-fogged head couldn't wrap itself around a format change.  The only thing I could wonder was what it would be like to immerse myself in a swimming pool full of Benji's chicken soup, there to soak until my sinuses clear and my voice returned.

The weekend would come and go, normalcy would return--kind of.   My voice felt fine as I showered and got dressed those first few mornings to head in to work, only to fade as five a.m. approached.   I'd try starting the show with John Jagler, only to hear a rasp in my headphones where my pipes used to be.   I'd have to literally step away and hand the show over to Erik Bilstad, then slink out of the building and go home to rest my throat and hope for better things the next day, only to get the same result.

I think it was Wednesday when I came back to work to give it another try.   It was before the show, and I was heading to the radio newsroom coffee pot for a refill.   "You drink coffee every morning?" Jagler asked as I topped off my cup again.  "A caller a few days ago said that coffee is like the WORST possible thing you can drink if you have throat issues.   Dries you out."  

That would explain why I'd start the day with a fully functional throat, only to have my voice turn to a rasp by show time.   I heeded the belated medical advice, and soon was back to what passes for normal.

I've been blessed with tremendous health, so much so that a vigorous flu bug four years ago qualifies as a memorable personal crisis.  A smart man would've started getting flu shots, but I'm sorry to admit that I have yet to do so.   I will this season,  Promise.

It's 2012 and history is about to be made again, no matter who wins and even more so if we wake up tomorrow morning not knowing who is going to be standing on the Capitol steps with his hand in the air that frosty January morning.   It felt great voting this morning, and it feels even better watching the returns without a viral buddy creating havoc in my innards.

And, it'll be an honor to serve up the post-election news tomorrow morning on The Big Stick for the first time in my TMJ tenure.


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