Why I’m Missing Mindy Kaling’s Book Signing (More Proof I Can Never Be Cool)

So I’ve had this cold. It’s been going on for over a week at this point, which is ridiculous. Listen, if I go through all the trouble to be responsible and get the flu shot before flu season, I shouldn’t be able to get sick for ten days straight with anything. I should get credit for letting someone stick a needle in my arm in the back of a Vons next to the frozen food section.

Being sick has been a real pain in the ass, as it’s been a busy couple of weeks — the kind of busy where I can’t just cancel and reschedule. You know, the kind of day all of us have every day. But since it was just a meeting here or there in between long stretches where I could be in my pajamas writing, I felt like I had enough medications that I could soldier through an hour or two of looking like a normal, functioning human being.

But there would be a hard crash every night, worse if I’d felt better all day, flying high on medications. Every night I’d get kicked with a heavy exhaustion and cough and I’d wander the hallway moaning, asking aloud with a pitiful wail, “What if this is life now? What if this is it? This is how it’s going to feel every day for the rest of my life. This is all there is, now.”

Eventually I was successfully chasing the dragon with DayQuil and NyQuil long enough that I became unsure whether I was treating a cold or if I was going through a rough period of allergies. I switched out from DayQuil to Allegra (which was stellar for getting to the finish line on a script I had due), but I couldn’t quite shake the cough that would appear every night right around nine. Each morning I was waking up feeling like I was starting all over again fighting the thing.

Then the cat started sneezing. Every time he does it I feel the need to apologize to him out loud.

The final straw was yesterday, when one of my eyes went bloodshot and I was like, “I have coughed myself into crazyland.” This wasn’t like a couple of years ago when I was so stressed out and stomach-sick that I got blood eye. This looked like I’d been poked in the face with a stick. “Okay, if I’m not better by Thursday, I’ll definitely go to the doctor.”

My doc is a very no-nonsense doctor, and if you go all the way to his office looking for antibiotics when all you need is DayQuil, he will tease you, adding insult to injury, not to mention a two-hour drive, total. When I mentioned this cold to anybody they were like, “Oh, I just went through that. It’s terrible, but you’ll be better by tomorrow.” “Oh, that’s going around. Yeah, it’s no fun but you’ll be better by tomorrow.”

But last night, in desperation, I decided to consult my local doctor, the one I trust when I need confirmation that I am sicker than anyone will give me credit for. I pulled up my buddy Doctor Google.

“Jason!” I shouted, looking up from my iPhone in horror. “What if I have pinkeye?”

Having heard these kind of freak-outs from me before, he didn’t even let two seconds pass in which he could pretend to be debating an answer. “You don’t have pinkeye,” he said. “Put down the internet.”

“But I just put all my symptoms in here.”

“You’ve been coughing a lot, you’ve burst a blood vessel or something. You don’t have pinkeye. We both have a cold. My eye hurts, too.”

“Yes, because pinkeye is extremely contagious!”

“You don’t have pinkeye.”

I pulled up an image search for “pinkeye” on my iPhone and sat down next to him holding my eyephone (OH MY GOD, I JUST TYPED “EYEPHONE.” I’M LEAVING IT) next to my face.


And even though he was in the middle of doing a full-on Joaquin Phoenix over the couch, he still calmly said, “You don’t have pinkeye.”

He then zipped himself into a plastic Jasonsuit and refused to come anywhere near me for the rest of the night. Because I “didn’t have pinkeye.”

I woke up this morning with one eye crusted shut. I washed my face, freeing my eye from its old-goo prison. I looked in the mirror to see: both of my eyes were now red. I looked like someone had broken up with me just five minutes ago. Not puffy-faced, swollen-eye, crying-all-night-long. More like I’d been recently dealt some news I still couldn’t believe.

I canceled all my meetings. I called the doctor and left a message, “Hi, so I’ve had this cold I can’t shake for over a week now, and I thought maybe it was allergies but I guess maybe not because today I’m coughing a lot and also I think I have double pinkeye? Can you please find some time to see me?”

They called right back and asked me to come in immediately.

On the long drive over there, I called my mother. She’s coming to visit tomorrow with my sister, so I wanted her to describe exactly how she’s getting to the airport, which airport and what plane she’d be stepping onto. After she passed all of those tests correctly, I told her why I was going to the doctor.

“Mom! What if I have pinkeye?”

And she said, “Oh, Pam. You always think it’s the worst. You worry yourself and that’s why you get sick. Don’t tell yourself it’s pinkeye. It’s probably stress and you’re working too hard. You always make a bigger deal than it needs to be.”

My doctor took one look at me and then Joaquin Phoenix’ed himself to the other side of his office. He shouted out the door, “Throw away the pen Pam used to sign in! And we’re gonna have to hose this place down after she leaves.”

He wouldn’t come near me. This guy who is constantly unfazed, who is never without his smirky grin and his skeptic outlook on my self-diagnosis, was scared of me. He stood three feet away to check my throat. He kind of flicked a flashlight in my general direction as if he that could pass for shining a light into my eyes and screeched, “Oh, God! Oh, my God. You are soooooo gross and contagious and oh, I’ve got to get out of here. DON’T. TOUCH. ANYBODY. If you touch someone’s pen, throw that pen away. Wash your hands all the time. Did you touch things in the lobby? Do you want any magazines? Touch any one you want and it’s yours forever.”

I asked, “Do I need to cancel everything I have tomorrow?”

“No,” he shouted from way down the hall, no longer comfortable within six feet of me. (I’m not exaggerating.) “Just don’t touch these people. Don’t touch your face! Get out of here and go get that medicine! You’ll be fine! Keep in touch!”

So HA HA, boyfriend and mom! Take THAT for making me seem like a hypochondriac. Go ahead and tease me about my Doctor Google powers, now, suckers. Because guess who’s got double pinkeye? THIS SEXY BITCH. THIS ONE.

Woo!! Victory lap! (followed by coughing spasm, goop drips from one eyeball.)

This is what I get as a reward for being right. Double pinkeye.

It’s no fun being right all the time, you guys, it just isn’t. And the reason I’m writing it here is because I feel like the kid with lice. All day long when people would text or email with their news or concerns, I felt like it was all, “Hey! I got a callback on that audition!” and I’d be like, “I have double pinkeye.”

I texted my friend who works on the Rosie show to see how she’s doing and she’s like, “It’s amazing! I see Oprah every day! I can’t believe this is my job! How are you?” and I have to go, “I have double pinkeye.”

“Yay!” says Cat Davis. “I am at a table read for my first script! How are you?”
“I have double pinkeye.”

“Pam!” writes Dana. “Still want to go to Mindy Kaling’s book signing tonight?”
“I have double pinkeye.”

But Mom’s immediate reaction was, “Oh, no! I don’t get to hug you!” And if that’s not a mother’s love, I don’t know what is.

I’m at the pharmacy with my sleeves over my hands, holding out my wallet. “You should grab my health insurance card. And some Purell. I am the diseased. I am Patient Zero for double pinkeye. Don’t touch me.” And you guys, that pharmacist thanked me.

I panicked on my drive back, calling the producer I’m working with because we have a meeting tomorrow. “Uh, how bad would it be if we moved this meeting?”
“Well, it wouldn’t be great, but… why?”
“I don’t know how to tell you this, but this hot bitch has double pinkeye.”

Luckily that woman is also a mother, and I have to tell you the moms have been the best at calming me down from the double pinkeye ledge. Apparently you’ve all had pinkeye. You take your small children to pinkeye huts and then pick them up later, only to rub them all over your faces. Then you give your pinkeye to your loving partners, who sweetly give it right back to you and you spend weeks with swollen eyes, which is why all your friends think you guys fight all the time. Because this looks like you are trying to pretend you didn’t just have a screaming match in the parking lot with someone you love.

So she did what every great mom and producer should do. She said, “You will be fine. Those drops will heal you right up and tomorrow you’ll look better and feel better and the antibiotics will kick in and you’ll be great.”

Six hours after my first set of drops and antibiotic later, and I have to say she’s right. I can already tell I’m on the mend, and hopefully I will be better enough that I’ll look like I got dumped… maybe six weeks ago. Still fragile around the edges and don’t bring up the upcoming holidays, but I probably won’t have a meltdown in the craft services room if you give me a show.

So if someone sees Mindy Kaling tonight at the Grove, please tell her I’m sorry I’m missing her signing. I didn’t want to have to explain why I was wearing giant sunglasses and latex gloves as I handed her a book to sign. Hopefully she’ll write more so I can come to the next one.

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  1. Mike

    I have two kids, both of which have had pinkeye a few times each, and I’m stil terrified of getting it. I automatically feel my eye getting itchy as soon as the diagnosis comes in and know I am doomed. Don’t even get me started on lice. Once one of those notes come home that a kid in school has it my head starts to itch. My daughter had it once, only the eggs when it was caught, and I was trying to find a way to stay at work. I guess I’m saying don’t feel paranoid. That is me. You’re just cautious and usually right.

    Feel better.

    My eye is itchy now.

  2. Beth

    In the name of eye solidarity I’d like to share my Gross Eye story. I had a stye which just wouldn’t seem to go away. I don’t think I had insurance at the time so I called a friend’s pharmacist dad who said the only cure for a sty is time and all I could do is soak a washcloth in hot (“as hot as you can stand it!”) water and apply to the sty eye 4 or 5 times a day. I burned the crap out of my face but eventually I recovered.

    Then a few years after that I woke up with an eyelid so swollen, droopy and red I couldn’t really see out of it. I saw a doctor this time who said I had blepharitis. Which is the best and worst word ever but really just means “hey, your eyelid’s inflamed.” There is some kind of cream she could have prescribed but the best remedy is — wait for it — a hot washcloth on the eye.

    And then! Doc said there is a trick she learned for the best way to perform the hot compress. “You take a potato, heat it up in the microwave, wrap it in a paper towel and apply that to your eye.” A potato on my eye. A potato on my eye! Somehow, I can still see.

  3. Stephie

    Make some tea, then put the teabags in the fridge. Put them on your eyes for 10 minutes in the morning. It’ll help for those last few days when you’re almost healed but still kinda poofy.

    1. Pamie

      … like any tea? Because I feel like the kind of tea might be important.

      Are you just trying to get me to teabag myself?

      1. Stephie

        I use chamomile to help with the redness, though I’ve heard caffeinated tea helps with poofiness.

      2. Joanna L. Castillo

        I like how Stephie just ignored your question about what she was trying to get you to do. Nice.

        1. Joanna L. Castillo

          PS: Sorry you’re so sick. That sucks.

  4. Heather

    “Put down the Internet” is going on the list.

    P.S. Feel better!

    P.P.S. How does one acquire double pink eye? Can you ID your patient zero?

    P.P.P. S. Does that make you 2 for 2 with Dr. Google (after your Derby diagnosis)?

    1. Pamie

      I also correctly diagnosed a wheat allergy (via Dr House) and microscopic hematuria from running a marathon and not from having cancer.

      1. Pamie

        The pinkeye appears to have sprung from this cold. I know where the cold came from, but since she’s a stranger to me, I can’t *actually* make her pay by wiping my eyes on her eyes.

  5. Hollienoel

    LOL, teabagging is probably a great way to GET double pinkeye. Hey, wait…

  6. stacey

    My 6 year old niece has had double pinkeye a number of times – apparently, she’s hugely successful at contracting it. My sister was ready to just burn down the house the last time to avoid the cleaning (she also has a two year old – those kids are handsy, ya know). Hang in there, Pamie!

  7. MaryAnne

    Having had multiple diagnoses of “allergy-induced conjunctivitis” (i.e. non-contagious pinkeye) over the years, I have learned that the cheaper the tea, the better it actually works to reduce swelling. Something to do with the tannin levels, IIRC.

    Plus you’ll save on eye shadow because it stains your eyelids kind of a yellowish ecru shade …

  8. Abra

    Ugh… pinkeye suuuuucks. My son had it in both eyes twice when he was in kindergarten and gave it to me both times… and in both eyes. Do yourself a favor and replace your eye makeup and refrain from using the new until the pinkeye is COMPLETELY gone.

  9. Katherine

    Hey! I had that cold. And the pinkeye. No meetings to reschedule just the kid’s baptism. And a house full of guests. I wore my sunglasses and drank gin. Cleared up in no time. Hope you feel better soon!

    1. Helen Jane

      Sunglasses and gin! I love it!

  10. Heather C

    That’s the nice thing about colds, isn’t it? They’re like a sucky two-for-one deal. I am just getting over a cold that turned into the sexiest sinus infection ever. Sexy because it arrived when my husband and I were at a swanky hotel celebrating our wedding anniversary. Nothing says “Let’s get it on” like a fever, a skull-crushing headache, and having to blow your nose every 30 seconds. (Although, if you’re going to be sick, a hotel is not a bad place to be. Comfy bed, awesome pillows, and room service!) I have been sick for more than three weeks. Although the antibiotics are done and the infection seems to be over, I still feel like I have a cold.

    I hope the pink-eye resolves itself soon!

  11. Rhonda

    Oh Pamie! I could just kiss you for writing this*. I developed pink eye from a cold and no one (but my awesome doctor) believed that was possible. You basically caught a cold – in your eye!

    Feel better!

    *but I won’t because of the pink eye.

  12. Hellcat13

    Don’t listen to those “you’ll feel better tomorrow” people. They lie. I am on day 14 of that cold and still can’t go up a flight of stairs without wheezing. I figure eventually my lungs will get back to normal…by Christmas maybe?

  13. Scott Schulz


    First, there was Typhoid Mary.

    Push in over the shoulder of a Ninteenth Century cook working at a large commericial wood stove horking into a goulash.

    Then came SARS Jianlun.


    Handsome older doctor in business in front of an opening elevator door steps back as a cute young mother pushes out a stroller out with two additional toddlers in tow.

    Close in on doctor’s hand leaving glowing green finger prints on the elevator botton.

    As the world teeters on the brink of epidemiological destruction comes one more.


    Close in low up on a Kleenex box on a nightstand. Young female hand reaches down into frame and pulls up tissue.

    Can the world survive?

    (Outrageous sneeze.)

    Pinkeye Pamie.

    Comng soon to a theater near you.


    Here’s to a swift recovery!

    1. Pamie

      I don’t need another nickname, Scott.

  14. Scott Schulz

    Sure you’ll try to distance yourself from it now, but when it becomes the sleeper comedy hit of the summer of 2015, you’ll be singing a different tune. The climatic scene in which PAMIE (Patricia Arquette) runs across the tarmac to get the serum onto the last plane out of LAX while being chased by zombified Jollibee customers wielding biohazard green and orange cups of pearl tea will receive favorable comparisons to the steamroller scene in A Fish Called Wanda. And Variety will say of the moment when the zombies are hipchecked out of the way by the group of Derby Dolls who PAMIE thought she infected and killed in the first reel, “There won’t be a dry seat in the house.”

  15. Paul Tabachneck

    I’m surprised you don’t just, like, know Mindy Kaling. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least if she’d read your books, since she mentions frequently how much “chick lit” she reads.

    Anyhow, get better. I spent the last two weeks with an awful post-cold cough, assuring myself that it was getting better (while spending full gigs having coughing fits between verses), and am now on the third day of my long-overdue Z-Pac, my chest goblins protesting strongly to their eviction notice.

  16. Kristina

    Uggh, pinkeye is the worst and yes, it absolutely works in legion with daycareitis.

    I worked at a cosmetic counter in college and I had a lovely mom tell me she had her daughter out of school for the day with pinkeye. This was right before I rounded the corner and saw her kid elbow deep in our eyeshadow testers. I did not have a good reaction, in fact I think I actually yelped. I had to shoo them away and then explain to my manager why I had to replace every single tester in the tray, because, well , ultra-contagious.
    I am now the mom that keeps her son home with a sniffle because I do not want him to be patient zero.

  17. Stephanie

    I think your stories about being ill or injured might be my favorite, Pamie.

  18. Heather

    Last month, every kid at my NGO had pinkeye within days of each other. Here in Thailand, they don’t treat it. They just stay home a day or two and wait til their eyes are not red. Why do they do that?! And i just deloused a girl the other day with a metropolis of lice on her head. I didn’t even start to tackle the eggs yet. This NGO lifestyle is crazy glamorous. Glad you got treatment.