Some people are known for a deliciously infectious laugh. Some are identified by their singular strut. Others have a trademark phrase or a unique snort.
I? Have an altogether different kind of signature.
It is deep. It is phlegmy. Sometimes it erupts as a single “hunh”. Other times, it explodes in a series of hacks that wrack my body and leave me gasping for breath.
It precedes me wherever I go and echoes for long minutes after I have left.
It announces my arrival at the office.
It clears the area around me in elevators.
It makes people cringe when they hear it in public spaces, and sends all but the most blase in search of their Purel.
It is the last thing I hear before falling asleep, and the first thing I hear every time I am forced out of slumber at night.
It’s the song I sing in the shower, the music I listen to in the car, and the emphatic note that ends all my conversations.
It’s an excuse not to exercise.
It’s the lock that keeps me out of movie theaters and libraries.
It’s been called flu, sinusitis and bronchitis (but I wonder if it’s lung cancer. Or an alien baby growing in my respiratory system.).
It’s my cough, and I’m beginning to think I’ll be stuck with it for the rest of my life.