“ya so 4 dinner tomoro, my mom is makin spageti,” wrote Jason. “U wanna come an we can talk bout the project?”
Scott frowned. “Certainly,” he typed rapidly. “If, that is, there is no objection on your mother’s part.”
“no way man she likes for u 2 come an eat all the food it makes her fell good jk lol”
Scott’s eyes watered, and he sneezed again. “Excellent! We will call it a deal, then.” in He tapped the enter key lightly a few times before pressing it in earnest. His long fingers remained frozen midair as Jason’s next message scrolled across the screen. Scott coughed.
“gr8 man so wat do u think bout usin blu insted of green?”
Scott coughed again. He was suddenly very thirsty. “Perhaps,” he typed. His train of thought was violently derailed as he caught sight of Jason’s next message.
“or may be pink lol”
Scott’s eye twitched. His fingers shook. He blinked rapidly and sneezed four times in succession and coughed thrice. “Perhaps pink wouldn’t be as appealing to the public eye,” he tapped out, snapping himself back to the task at hand. He thought for a moment, then slowly typed, “;-)” He frowned and shut his eyes for a moment. Suddenly the room was stiflingly hot. The computer beeped as Jason’s next message flashed onto the screen.
“lol man ya some ppl might not like pink so much”
Scott’s throat felt tight. His breath came in labored gasps and it felt as though there was very little oxygen being received by his brain. “In my opinion,” he typed slowly.
His head swam. The heat was becoming unbearable.
“In my opinion.” The words danced on his computer screen as Scott tried desperately to muster his thoughts. His brain moved sluggishly and his index finger came down heavily on the “I” key. He coughed laboriously. His cheeks were on fire, and his throat was dry and swollen. Water… a drink of water…
“In my opinion…”
All became dark.
Scott woke suddenly in a white room. He heard a metallic beep and thought for a moment it was Jason’s next message popping up on his computer screen. He sat up. No… it was a hospital room. He was in the hospital… why was he in the hospital? And then he remembered; he must have fainted during his chat with Jason. Probably inadequate oxygen intake; his throat had been so tight. But why? What was wrong with him?
A stocky, bearded man entered the room softly. He smiled gently at Scott.
“Scott?” His voice was deep, but he was trying hard to make it soft and comforting. This, Scott surmised, was the doctor. “Hey, Scott. Glad to see you’re awake. I’m Dr. Parker.”
“Ahh…” said Scott. His voice was so hoarse. “Thank you, doctor. If you’ll pardon my abruptness, why am I here?”
“You should really buy your sister flowers or something,” smiled Dr. Parker. “She walked into your study and found you slumped over the keyboard. She called an ambulance immediately. It’s lucky she found you when she did. You might not have been with us if it weren’t for her.”
Scott frowned. He had a slight headache. “Slumped over…. What happened to me, doctor? Is it my heart? My lungs? I felt a tightening of the throat right before I lost consciousness….”
“Oh, we know what’s wrong with you,” said Dr. Parker briskly. He clicked his pen and consulted his clipboard. “You had an allergic reaction.”
“Allergic reaction?” cried Scott in alarm. “What set me off? I hadn’t eaten anything for hours, doctor, and…”
“Calm yourself,” said Dr. Parker soothingly. “Your allergy is not that serious and quite treatable, I assure you.”
“Might I ask what the allergen is?”
“Chatspeak,” Dr. Parker informed his patient. “It’s a rare allergy nowadays, but we still find a few cases here and there. The same way some people’s bodies are programmed to reject peanuts, your body reacts adversely to phrases like ‘ppl’ and ‘lol.’ There are multiple causes, but in your case, it’s caused by abnormally high levels of Linguistic Snobbishness.”
Scott’s head swam. Yes… yes, he had been doing fine until Jason started blasting him with “gr8s” and “U’s.” Jason wasn’t a bad sort— on the whole he was rather a marvelous fellow— but he did have deplorable habits in matters of language. “But it is treatable, doctor?” Scott asked desperately. “You did say it was treatable?”
“Yes,” Dr. Parker said reassuringly. “Oh yes. Quite treatable. I am prescribing to you,” he said, beginning to scribble furiously on his clipboard, “a month of solid country music. Three weeks if the songs have plenty of ain’ts in them. But you might want to start mildly.”
Scott clutched his forehead in despair. Country music? “Is… is there another way, doctor? Any other way?”
Dr. Parker glared severely at Scott. “Young man, you are lucky we caught you this early. Were you any older, your condition would have become permanent. There is nothing else. Unless, of course, you would like to memorize the entire works of e. e. cummings….”
“No,” gasped Scott. “No, thank you very much. I am grateful to you for what you’ve done for me, doctor, truly I am. May I be released to begin my treatment?”
Dr. Parker smiled again. “Certainly, certainly,” he said amiably. “Your sister is waiting in the lobby for you. Now off you go.”
“Thank you, doctor,” called Scott over his shoulder as he strode quickly down the sterile white hallways. “Yes… thank you very much indeed!”