It Hurts When I Do That…
Everyone has a touch of hypochondria in them. I have more than a fair share; for me the constant certainty that I am dying began in the third grade.
Our teacher, Mrs. West, assigned desks in alphabetical order. With an “A” surname not only did I usually set the bar for futility in P.E. (for I was and remain as athletic as a cactus), but when the subject was arranged-seating, I’d be in the first row, close to, if not in front. For five years (until her family relocated to California after the fifth grade) I could count on Veronica Allen to be seated in front of me. Ronnie and I were friends because I made her look like Wonder Woman when we had to fall in line for chin-ups in second grade (she sort of did one, then I began my athletic career as The Reliable Zero–I considered it my way of making the other kids feel better about themselves).
Mrs. West was a very good teacher. She wound up making the paper for retiring after fifty years at Pleasant Valley Elementary (real name, just like the Monkees’ song). She was about thirty years in at the time, thus omnipotent. Soon, she detected the children who needed to be close to her–i.e., the troublemakers. Such as Les Martin–who moved from the middle of the room to the head of my row. So, there was Les, Ronnie then me in my row; Heidi “Hammerhead” Baxter sat behind me (I should point out that the names of my classmates are close proximities to what I have written–in case there’s a coincidental Hammerhead Baxter reading this). I remember this arrangement only because of events that transpired shortly before and after Christmas Vacation.
About a week before Christmas break, Mrs. West announced that Les (an unfortunate looking boy whose face appeared to have been conceived by Dr. Seuss) was in the hospital due to an emergency appendectomy, and would be out till January. We spent the last hour of class making the quality of giant “get well card” one should expect from a group of extremely average, mostly disinterested-in-the-health-of-Les Martin third graders.
I doubt that this would have lasted very long in my memory if not for upon the return from break I had an unobstructed view of the since recovered Les Martin–which meant there was no Veronica Allen in the way. Mrs West later informed us that Ronnie had also come down with appendicitis, had the thing removed on New Year’s Day and wouldn’t be back for a couple of weeks (I can’t recall if I visited the slacker or not). While we were again put to the task of creating a sub standard work of get well art, Hammerhead Baxter (who achieved her nickname a year earlier because she got drilled in the face with a batted softball and didn’t flinch) smiled at me and said, “Looks like you’re next.” I should have pointed out what that meant for her if true, but being nine it wasn’t in the cards.
As established in previous narcissistic posts, I was a child extremely susceptible to suggestions. Although I still have my appendix (which has never spoken up at any time), I quizzed both victims about the symptoms until the end of the term–and naturally, I was convinced my appendix was flaming up now and then, just toying with me until the worst possible time to go haywire came around. I finally forgot about it as third graders do–but ever since I have remained troubled by diseases that I have never had.
So Don’t Google It…
The Information Age has been a boon for hypochondriacs. Google has given me every disease from dropsy to the Vidiian phage. I know, I know already, but I am addicted to Googling symptoms to see if I am suffering from anything more interesting than a nasty case of self involvement.
Sometimes I will catch something so scary on Google that I will actually confess to fudging my complaint. No Google, I lied, my knee caps are not spontaneously unscrewing. Coming clean to a search engine is humiliating, but it’s better than the 24-hr leprosy.
It is at best inappropriate to be amused by the diseases suffered by others. That is as risky as showing up drunk to a dinner party at Karma’s house and spilling red wine on the good table cloth. But a few years ago, when I commuted to work by ferry, I overheard the following spoken by a woman with a Texas drawl: “Never mind Roy, honey, he’s got the dementia.” I strained a gizzard stifling my laughter. Google later informed me that it was impossible for a human being to strain her gizzard.
So, at long last I have decided to do something productive with my hypochondria, other than depart from it. At the end of this post are my top nine disease songs–slot ten once again open for suggestions
Five Catchy In a Good Way Stories
This week saw the site debut of four writers plus the return of the prolific Mr. S. Topics involved doing the best you can when in over your head; the past and future fighting for custody of the Now; a realistically/surreal family dynamic; dystopian never having to say you are sorry and Lovecraftian doings in the woods.
Naga Vydyanathan led off the week with The Kumari, on Monday. It is Naga’s first story with us and is the tale of an appealing little girl who has immense, spiritual responsibilities. The opening scene with her doll is a charmer. Naga placed a great deal of extra editing into this piece and it shines beautifully.
Tuesday saw another new one by Tom Sheehan–who is rapidly approaching 200 stories with us. Flashing Mirrors at a House Built in 1742 underscores Tom’s ability to find something new to say about subjects that do not typically yield fresh observations.
Debut writer, Young Tanoto’s, Home Remedy is one of those stories that reads brilliantly but sounds, frankly, pedestrian, when described–you know, the family dynamic, odd Mom. But a little magics accumulate as it progresses, and the odd angles and viewpoints all add up to a satisfactory experience.
Mark Saba contributed to the fact that the future isn’t what it used to be with his first site piece, Sexed, on Thursday. Despite the inexorable push of the race by the corporate structure (that atomized vapor which dissipates when one seeks the responsible party) toward the annulment of the human spirit, some of it survives in Mark’s story. The day writers stop writing pieces like this one will be the day that the corporate objective is met.
Thank God it was Friday, unless you were dragged into the meadow by a monster. Lee Stoddart’s Jack in the Green is a fresh and entertaining version of That Thing Out In the Wood. Dark emotions and base wants are explored beautifully by the author.
Five stories, five voices, five aids to ease the hard parts found in every day. If you haven’t done so yet I entreat you to have a look at these tales before they take their places in the honored past.
My Nine Diseased Songs
Fortunately for me (for I’ve run low on sense making words) not a hell of lot of explanation needs to precede the following list! Suggestions for the non-extant tenth slot are encouraged.
- Poison Ivy–Coasters
- It’s a Heartache-Bonnie Tyler
- Rockin’ Pneumonia and Boogie Woogie Flu– “Piano” Smith (Deep Purple has a good version)
- Paranoid-Black Sabbath
- Werewolves of London–Warren Zevon (hey, Lycanthropy is a disease–and there’s the whole ripping your lungs out thing as well)
- If You Are Happy and You Know it Clap Your Hands (sue me)
- Come Together-Beatles (perhaps the longest list of esoteric diseases ever conceived. I think I had toe jam football as a teen. Definitely joo joo eyeball. Uncertain about Walrus Gumbo)
- Addicted to Love-Robert Palmer (maybe he should have had at least one cardiologist model in a black dress in the band)
- I’d Rather Have a Bottle in Front of Me than a Frontal Lobotomy– Randy Hanzlick, MD