OPINION: The most work-shy guy you know will swear he picked it up on the job and people who've never darkened a church door will say they caught it last Sunday while complete teetotallers reckon they got it at the pub.
Not good luck, a come-on, a smile or a million dollars.
What they are talking about is the common cold which invariably is translated into flu if not swine flu, pneumonia, bronchitis almost everything but colic and that does come sometimes along with whooping cough.
Look, it is June, winter, lowered skies, lowered temperatures, lowered brows, lowered voices, lowered moods - even corners of mouths turned down.
But what do you expect?
All the above and more with claims now of seriously affective disorder, the SAD disease said to come in a southern winter.
Of course we get colds, everybody does even Her Majesty with very occasional bulletins from Buckingham Palace mentioning a slight indisposition due to a cold, sometimes defined as a summer cold (for colds come in all shapes, sizes, strengths and seasons).
It is the search for origin and eventually blame-placing that's a bit depressing, more so than the cold itself.
We may forget names, dates, other people's problems.
But we'll track down a remote sneeze, the memory of someone saying they knew someone with flu, and the barking cough that does startle.
Told we must not have antibiotics, or they won't work or something, we haunt supermarkets and pharmacies with coughing strangers, seeking the cure-all. All round people smell of winter, the nostalgia of Vicks, the warmth of Irish Moss, and the horrifying image of Baxters Lung Preserver.
Sales of tissues and lemons soar, whole new industries will develop - maybe a cold jab which, like the flu vaccine, lets you get it but not as bad.
Probably healthier than trying to track down who gave who "gave" you a cold.
No one gives it to you. It is just out there waiting, for the taking.
It is winter. Enjoy . . .
- The Southland Times