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A Man for All Seasons Except Allergy Season

I'm suffering from allergies. I know it's not a cold because I'm somewhat of a professional googler.
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I'm suffering from allergies. I know it's not a cold because I'm somewhat of a professional googler.

I can't be sick right now. I got an offer from a publisher on my memoir, The Pink Marine (about my time in U.S Marine boot camp, pre-DADT). I have to fly to New York. I'm also in development to host a cooking show and I have meetings with the network. My cup runneth over. With used tissues. But I can't sneeze my way though either meeting. Due to allergies and the cussing habit I picked up in the Marines, right now I sound like Demi Moore in a rap video.

No one looks good with watery eyes, a runny nose and neck hives. My friend Brooke had a huge crush on our Beverly Hills ENT, Dr. Joe Sugerman. She was dying to date him; however every time she saw his she was ill -- and therefore looked like she was in fact dying.

When I was a kid, I held my nose during hay fever-induced sneezing fits. I might have avoided embarrassment but I developed tinnitus. Google it. It's an incurable non-stop ringing in the ears. But Barbra Streisand has it too, so as a gay man I'm a little bit proud.

In this excerpt from my aforementioned book, I describe my reaction to the decor of the barracks at U.S.M.C. training depot Parris Island:

I had allergies as a child. A doctor advised my parents to create a special room for me to sleep in, free of as many allergens as possible. This ideal room would have a tile floor that could be mopped every day, and it would contain only a metal bed frame with a plastic-covered mattress. There would be no curtains or blinds on the windows and no lamps or tables. If these guidelines were followed, and I lived in this plain room where dust had little chance to gather and could be wiped away easily, I might be allergy-free and therefore more comfortable. My mother thanked the doctor and we left, presumably to shop for the metal bed. Instead, we went home and never spoke of it again.

Allergies have popped up my entire life. Last year in Berlin I floated in an open-air boat down the river Spree, feeling like a conquering hero entering the city as this soft confetti hit me in the face. Turns out the fluffy white puffs were pollen. The next day I used my Marine Corps training to serpentine to a drugstore, dodging everything. German is a super hard language, and watery eyes made reading medicine bottles impossible. I pantomimed my symptoms and probable death to the confused pharmacy staff. They handed me an enema kit and a free sucker.

I found a Neti pot next to the schnitzel and returned to my hotel. After using all the towels and most of the sheets, the saline rinsing process eased my symptoms. Rock stars have trashed a room less; I'm probably not welcome back to that hotel.

Once home, I sought medical treatment. The doctor ordered a CAT scan of my sinuses. He called me in his office. He turned out the lights, showed me the x-ray and pointed out two small dark spots along my skull. "I'm concerned about these divots, they might be bone cancer."

Well, the disco lights flipped on at 2 AM, honey. I was there for my allergies, not to become the subject of a tear-jerking TV movie starring Donna Mills.

"The divots are probably extra space in my skull for brains," I half-joked. But like that sneezy kid picked never for basketball, I was dying inside. The doctor ordered a lot of tests. After a scary week and $8,000 scans, the divots were indeed (thankfully) diagnosed as extra space in my skull.

I'm off now to pack my manuscript and apron for this NYC trip, then to hover over my Neti pot. I can't be that guy on the plane causing it to return to LAX. I won't be responsible for 300 Facebook statuses, "Some sneezy idiot made our flight turn around. Now I'll miss Castle."

That's a lot of pressure. Sinus pressure.