August 10, 2020:

I'm struggling to stay awake.

Not boredom. Functionally impaired consciousness, like passing out from drugs, only I don't do downers and I'm neither high nor drunk. Something's wrong and I can barely stay lucid.

Fever, I realize, as my forehead dive-bombs the desk. I snap out of it before impact but I'm not sure what to do.

I should ask to see the nurse but that seems somehow embarrassing. Admitting a weakness, or some thoughtless atavistic machismo. More likely, reluctance to call attention to myself. It's already unusual to find me present. Finding me present and asking to leave seems like pushing things.

Present but passed-out would be worse. I watch the clock, thinking, OK, another minute passed, only 42 to go...

It's one of the most wrenching slow-motion struggles of my life. An epic exertion of willpower moment-by-moment. I will not pass out. I will not pass out. I will not pass out. Imagining minutes have passed only to discover it's been less than one. Thinking, This must be how people attempt to endure torture. Counting the time, congratulating themselves for holding out just thirty more seconds...

The bell rings, I made it, I see the nurse who tells me I have a fever of 103 and she's calling my mother to pick me up. "No," I tell her, taking charge. "She doesn't need to leave work. I live around the corner, I'll walk home. Just tell her I'm going."

One of the very rare times I was actually sick when out sick. With a witness in authority, no less.