Friday, December 7, 2018

My doctor is trying to kill me!

Oh, you're exaggerating, you're thinking. Well, you decide.

My doctor is old school. He definitely fits the "old" part of old school, but I'm not sure he went to school, at least not medical school. (Okay, he probably did, but you'll soon see what I'm saying.)

Not that he's not a nice guy. He's a super nice guy. And he shares this nice little office in the Chicago suburbs with a chain smoking cardiologist, so his office smells like a casino at four in the morning. But the secondhand smoke, while unpleasant, isn't the issue. The danger is much more direct.

I'll just tell you about a recent visit. I had two things I was concerned about: a boil on my chest and a little lump on my forearm. So there I was inhaling the secondhand smoke in the waiting room. I was nervous because I knew what my doctor was like. But the thing is he got things done. He wasn't afraid to do just about anything in his office. Once he cut a mole off my cheek. (I said, "Are you sure you want to do this in here? I mean, it's my face and all, so I want it to look okay." He smiled and said, "I'll make you look interesting.") Really, I think he would do anything short of a heart transplant. Or maybe he'd do that too. He'd just have the cardiologist assist him. But back to this visit.

So yeah, I was nervous. But I figured it was best to get this over with. So there I sat with my thigh bouncing like a diving board after a cannonball, and that's when I heard the first cry. It was the patient currently in with my doctor. I thought, No, I probably just imagined I heard that.

"Aaaaahhhh!" came another cry.

There was no denying that one. And the one that followed. And all that followed that. I was like, I gotta get out of here. But I sat there transfixed, second by second, my body trembling with each blood curdling cry.

Now I was next.

Using the babiest of baby steps I made my way into his office—and he was cleaning blood off the curtains! Yes, blood! He had a rag and he was wiping them down! (And his curtains were plastic, like this happened all the time!) I know, I know, I should've left, but it was too late—I was mesmerized and in his Svengali-like power.

He tossed the bloody rag (I was tempted to ask him about the bio-hazard risk but couldn't speak). Then he told me to take off my shirt and lay on my back on the exam table. What could I do? I obeyed.

Now I think it's important to point out that I like to do health things slowly. Very slowly. Some would say too slowly. Like, my typical approach would be to say to him, "let's consider this visit a consultation, doc, and maybe we'll do something in the coming year."

I barely had time to see him as he appeared over me with a lance and stabbed it into the boil on my chest.


"There, that takes care of that. Now where's that lump on your arm?"

Seriously? I was so tempted to tell him it went away, but then what if he found it on his own? He'd probably amputate my arm. In abject terror, I pointed to the lump.

I could feel the cool of the alcohol prep cloth as he shimmed it over the area. Oh God. I closed my eyes. Let him do what he's going to do, but I just don't want to look at it.

Now, he was saying things like, "I bet it's a lipoma. It's probably a lipoma."

(Like I'm supposed to know what a lipoma is!)

I felt the scalpel slice into my forearm. It hurt but it was manageable.

"There. That's it," he said.

I breathed my first clear breath since I'd walked into the office.

"See?" he said.

See what? I opened my eyes.

A strange, lima bean-shaped thing was only inches from my face!

 "Aaaaaaahhhh! Get that thing out of here!"

He did. Getting sewn up wasn't bad at all, and I was in and out of there in fifteen minutes. Like I said, he gets things done. When I arrived home, I checked my phone, and there was an email from his office.

It was one of those surveys. The first question was:

"Would you recommend doctor to a friend?"

I started thinking about the people I hated.

Friday, November 16, 2018

My car is trying to kill me!

Okay, maybe it's not that bad, but I swear my car is trying to kill me.

It started subtly. I bought my car at one of those re-seller places, which I won't name so I don't get sued. This was 2007 and after trying out sitting in about a hundred cars where my right knee banged into the console or my head hit the roof, I came across a big, really big, beautiful American car that was only a 2004, and get this, it only had 4,000 miles on it!

My internal scam detector of course went off. 4K for three years! Something was fishy. An old lady who kept the car in the garage except for when she went to church (once a year on Christmas!), or on the other hand, maybe it was a mafia scumbag who turned the odometer back from 4,000,000?

But there was so much room in the car. (I know, I know, maybe not the best reason to buy a car, but it was like sitting on my living room sofa.)

Ok, I bought it. And in the beginning my car's homicidal tendencies were latent. For a couple of months everything seemed okay. Yeah, I was digging the car. Thinking I'd made the deal of a lifetime. But then little things started going wrong. After a heavy rain, my passenger door filled with water. (I only realized it while driving. When I'd brake it was like a fish bowl was in the car door.) Then my windshield started to leak. Slowly at first, then more, then more. Not quite a fire hose, okay? but it was getting there. (I should've seen the writing on the wall at this point—was my car trying to drown me?)

I fixed those potential flood risks (quite costly) and soldiered on, but clearly my 'garage kept by a church-going old lady' theory was kaput.

Now, it's not my car's fault that it has huge doors. That I'm not arguing. My golfing buddy won't park next to me in the golf course parking lot because he's sure if I open my door even half way, I'll dent his nice Toyota Avalon. And okay, okay, so I can take a little vehicular rejection, but the thing about the big doors is—I'm convinced they are trying to kill me.

How? Every time I open my door and get into the car, the door swings back and crushes my legs. Although the door hasn't broken my legs yet, I'm sure if I had osteoporosis it would have. Nevertheless, my legs are bruised and battered, and okay if the door hasn't killed me, besides making it very difficult to walk eighteen holes, it has weakened me to the point of being vulnerable to my car's most recent attempt at homicide.

I smelled gas. Not a lot at first. In the beginning, I thought it might have been the car in front of mine's exhaust. That sort of thing. But over time it became clear that it was my murderous car's latest try to get rid of me.

Well, you know how the story ends because I'm writing this. And I haven't sold the villainous car. How could I palm it off on someone else? For all practical purposes, I would be committing murder.

So now I keep a very suspicious eye on my car. Now if the car is going down a hill, I'm anticipating brake failure and preparing to eject. I have a fire extinguisher in the back seat for when the engine inevitably catches on fire. Lastly, for when that terrifying 'check engine' light comes on, I have a defibrillator to restore my heartbeat after the massive heart attack I'll surely have.

I honestly hope your car is better than mine (not all cars are evil), but at least now I know for a fact that my car is trying to kill me, and I'm preparing for its next attempt.

Friday, October 26, 2018

My hair dryer is trying to kill me!

Okay, full disclosure: that is not me in the photo.

And secondary full disclosure: I'm a guy.

Okay, I used to have this little hair dryer. It was so tidy. It was like a gun but a gun with a very short barrel. And it even folded up so it fit easily in a suitcase (for trips I never took). Here's one similar but mine's barrel was even shorter (and it was blue). Not that being blue was important. I'm not color blind or anything.

So life was good while I used that hair dryer. I'd get up groggy in the morning, shower and then dry my hair. It all seemed to take a long time but at least I wasn't injured.

Until the nice little hair dryer broke and I had to get a new (evil) one.

See the new one had a longer barrel. (I just got the cheapest one I could at Walmart.) So yeah, it was really long like this one this barber is using. Again, that is not me in the photo. I don't know who that guy with the mohawk is or who the barber is (or why he's wearing a construction worker's overalls with a bow tie).

So what was the problem? Well, the problem was I was used to the short barrel on the old hair dryer. So now when I get up groggy, shower and use the long-barrel dryer I smack my head because the barrel is longer than I'm used to.

Okay, I don't think I've fractured my skull or anything, but I have repeatedly given myself substantial smacks with the dryer, and that is not a pleasant way to start the day.

And you know what they say about it taking thirty days to break a habit? Well, it's true! So for thirty days I smacked myself in the head with the stupid too-long hair dryer. (Something similar happened when I visited my friend in Missouri and bought a cowboy hat, which kept getting knocked off when I'd get in my car.)

I considered suing the manufacturer (At least to recoup my medical bills for head contusions, cuts and burns.), but then the thirty days passed and I sustained injuries much less frequently.

So learn from me! If you've got a snub-nose hair dryer, don't get one with a long barrel or you'll pay dearly!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Why you don't want to go shopping with me!

Okay, full disclosure—I'm a guy.

Now that I got that out of the way, I'll tell you why you don't want to go shopping with me. Actually, an example might be even better.

The other day I went shopping to Kohl's. Kohl's is the perfect guy store because they have all these discount racks, where guys can buy at really cheap prices shirts that are too big, colors that are too garish and pants that even golfers would be embarrassed to wear. But on a Saturday a couple of weeks ago I was shopping for shoes (and there is no discount rack for shoes).

I know all about shoes, as my neighbor is a podiatrist. So I know you need a thumbnail's amount of room at the toe, that the shoe's dome should be big enough so that the toes can move freely, that the foot shouldn't touch on the sides. Yeah, I'm a veritable Dr. Scholls.

So I found a pair of shoes I liked. As a bonus, a really nice twenty-something female sales associate was there to help. I had already done all the self testing described above, but it was good to get a second opinion and the nice clerk obliged, confirming that this pair of shoes was a perfect fit.

So the next step was on to test the shoes around Kohl's store. (Buying shoes is the ultimate in a tricky purchase. Shoes are designed by their manufacturers to fit perfectly in the store but then change shape on the drive home and pinch your feet once you've worn the shoes on asphalt and scuffed them up—ie. when you can't return them anymore.) And boy, am I glad I did the tour around the store because I felt slight pinching somewhere. At first I thought it was in the toes on the right shoe, but by the time I got back to the shoe department, I felt the heel was slipping on the left shoe.

With such terrifying reservations, it was clear I needed to find a different pair.

I did. I was excited and by now I really wanted to get out of there too. I enjoy Kohl's but it was a Saturday, after all, and I had things to do. So I chop-chop ran through my self testing of the shoes and determined them to be another stellar fit. I told myself I should just buy them and get the heck out of there, but the nice clerk that helped me before was still there and it wouldn't hurt to have her—real quick—check them.

She seemed surprised to see me, as I'd already been there an hour and a half, but she dutifully confirmed that indeed the shoes were a 100% foolproof failsafe perfect fit. I was thrilled! But still the floor test awaited.

So off I went walking through Kohl's again. I was getting familiar with the store layout by now and was a little embarrassed to be walking through the lingerie section so regularly, but it was part of the path around the whole store and what was I going to do—backtrack? So round and round and round I went. This pair of shoes was a real hands-down winner. But maybe one last trip around the store would discover a latent flaw.

I was getting really tired. I'd been there over three hours, and I just decided to buy the darn shoes. I went back to the shoe section to get the box and get out of there. As fate would have it, the same clerk was there (I hadn't seen her on my rounds in a while—I think she must have gone to lunch or something) and when she saw me, her face flushed and she said, "Are you still here?!"

I was like, "Well, yeah, you see, I'm kind of mentally ill actually."

(I didn't really say that.) No, I just smiled, thanked her for her help and ran out of there as fast as I could.

And that is why you don't want to go shopping with me.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

How I single-handedly changed VISA corporation

It's true! I single-handedly changed VISA! How? you ask. (Well, okay maybe not out loud but in your mind.) Well, I'll tell you.

For months I kept dutifully paying my VISA bill. Boring. But it had to be done. Well, finally the boredom got so bad I remember one day really examining the VISA statement. I noticed that in one little area it said:

List changes below

Well, of course, they meant address changes or other changes that would apply to my account. But they didn't say that. Ha ha.

They just said:

List changes below

So I wrote in the allotted space:

Bought a new toothbrush

And then on the next month's bill (again in the allotted space under 'List changes below') I wrote:

Lost five pounds

And as the months (and statements) rolled by I continued to inform VISA corporation of all the little changes in my life. I must admit I figured I probably wasn't being heard, but it felt good being able to share my life with at least something that wanted to know what sort of changes I was going through!

But then one day lo and behold a VISA statement came and rather than it reading:

List changes below

it read:

List address changes below

And I knew then that I had single-handedly changed VISA! Ha ha. Oh sure, it had taken a while, but it felt so good to know that I had the power to change a mega-corporation!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Why I don't like reading modern books

I developed an interest in Isaac Newton. Then I came across this book called Dark Matter by Philip Kerr, which is a fictionalized story of Isaac Newton's life. Issac Newton—the apple falling on his head guy. Mathematician. Scientist. He discovered Calculus. A towering intellect, a scientific genius.

Okay, a little bit about my reading interests. I don't like reading sleazy stuff. It's just not my thing. And I don't write it either. A couple of my books have some sex stuff, but it's always pertinent to the story and never explicit or titillating. Same thing with profanity—my books don't have any profanity. I don't like to read it, so I don't write it.

But back to Dark Matter. Isaac Newton. Isaac Newton! Certainly there wouldn't be anything sleazy in a book about Isaac Newton, right? Guess again.

217 pages into the book it got really sleazy. And so now I've invested a lot of time, and I want to know what's coming. But if I want to continue, I have to read trash. Nope. Not for me. At this point I don't trust the author anymore. I put the book down.

That's why I wish books had ratings like movies. But at least, for the most part anyway, it's safer to read older books. They just don't have the sleaze modern books have.

Friday, May 25, 2018

My Navy Seal book started as a joke

My newsletter list, the people who help me with many things (thank you!), was giving me suggestions for overcoming writer's block. Which I was suffering massively from. Amongst the many great suggestions was 'write whatever you want.'

So I started writing this insane story about two Navy SEALs in Hawaii. And I started sharing it with my newsletter. Some hated it. (One guy told me I knew nothing about Hawaii. Which wasn't true, I knew about Don Ho music.) But a lot of people enjoyed the loony humor and I was enjoying writing it, so I just kept going, figuring it wouldn't amount to much.

Oh, some of it had to go. I got rid of the first scene where the protagonists latch onto a shark that swims 15 miles out to sea and then they're saved by a Navy SEAL helicopter that 'just didn't happen to be doing anything at the time.' But a story started taking shape. Yeah, the new SEALs were loopy, but they were given a big mission--to find a US Senator who disappeared in Cuba playing golf.

One thing led to another and before long I realized I was writing a novel.

Like my buddy Plato said:

The beginning is the most important part of the work.

Old Plato knew what he was talking about. ;)