Beware the Propu!

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The propu, perhaps.
The propu, perhaps.

I have caught a mild cold.

Unless you count the formidable health issues related to my intestines, I am a healthy gal. Yuri gets colds all the time and suffers from allergies, but I haven’t had a cold in years. When everyone else is moaning in bed with an achy body and a ring of dried NyQuil around their mouth, I’m peppy. I attribute this to washing my hands many times a day and being my mother’s daughter. That woman is invincible.

But then I went and did something stupid. I let the in the propu.

My ex-husband came from a Croatian family. In Croatia, there’s something everyone knows about called the propu. The propu is a draft, essentially, but a draft with a malevolent personality. If you leave a window cracked, the propu comes in and makes you sick. Croatians believe that if you’re sick, it’s probably because of the propu. The worst thing ever is to sleep with a window open in a room where you might be directly hit with the propu. From sore throats to back pain, if you’re feeling unwell, the propu is likely the culprit. And of course it sounds silly; clearly this is an old wives’ tale. It just smacks of superstition. But I’m telling you: there is truth to this propu business.

I’ve seen it. When someone has a cold, I will ask them if they had a window open in their bedroom. The answer is usually “yeah, so?” And I will tell them of the propu. Why, just this morning, I was on the phone with my publisher. She was out sick two days this week. I told her of the propu.

“Holy cow,” she said. “Mary, I wish you could see my face right now. That is so crazy. It was super stuffy in the house the other night, so I opened a window in the bedroom… And I woke up with a horrible cold!”

I nodded, solemnly. “Well, there you go, Kristi,” I said. “Propu.”

And yes, yesterday afternoon, I tangled with the propu, myself. I lay down for a disco nap around five o’clock. It was cold and drizzly in New York; an autumn day straight out of central casting. I wanted to hear the sounds of the rain. I wanted to snuggle under a quilt and smell that autumn air and dream about having a pumpkin latte, which I can never have because of the milk and sugar. I fell asleep. The propu came in. This morning, I woke up with a scratchy throat, an itchy nose, and a mild fever. Damn you, propu!!

What’s also fascinating about this propu business is that the prevailing wisdom of the Croatians is that if you open another window in the house or the room, you are safe from the propu, the idea being that the wind/draft has a way to escape and therefore ignores you, I guess. Again, crazy but with some validity. You can open a window in your house as long as you crack open another.

I tell you these things because I care about you. It’s like baking soda in your armpits. All I’m suggesting is that if you read PaperGirl, you will probably live a long and happy life, that’s all.