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As Long as We Remember...

April 24, 2005

The Disease

Tom McLaughlin

Humor by Tom McLaughlin

I blame it on the disease! Any of my faults and mistakes, I say there goes the disease again!

I was pulled over by one of Maryland's finest for speeding. I tried to get out of the ticket by explaining I have a rare illness and could not be blamed.

"Then what are you doing driving a car," the trooper asked. I decided to let that one alone.

Instead of just paying the fine, I chose to go to court and fight the ticket. I went to the local Lions Club and borrowed a wheel chair. Next I got a baggie and filled it full of an awful body fluid colored green stuff. This was concocted in my kitchen using food coloring.

I acquired some tubing used in aquariums and ran it down from the bag to under my sleeve. Red contact lenses helped with the effect. I used some of that stuff teenagers put in their hair that makes them look they have seen a ghost, like in the old time cartoons.

Then I proceeded into the courthouse looking like something raised from the grave.

All rise! The bailiff intoned. The judge wheeled in and pulled himself up to the chair behind the bench.

To help me walk, the doctor wanted me to use a cane. I wanted a Penang walking stick where James Bond would carve the name his female conquests.

Or something like Moses carried down the mountain.

Or one with a cobra's head carved into the top.

No, he prescribed one of those little ole lady ones with a gray handle and steel pole. The problem was I kept loosing it. I would go to a department store and use the counters as support, wandering away from the horrible stick until I totally forgot where I left it.

Or I would grab the shoulder of my companion and follow him/her through the place. It wasn't until I had passed through the exit doors and out to the car that I remembered the hideous thing.

My friend - being way too helpful - and I would return with me praying it had been shop lifted by a fiend. I really couldn't remember where I had left it and would pick an unlikely spot like the weight and bar bell area. I hoped it was gone for good. The sales clerk provided too much assistance, way beyond the call of duty. Attention associates! Please look around your department...

I hate fish! This comes from my being raised Catholic and having had to come home every Friday and eat those smelly sticks, the ones that stink up the whole neighborhood.

When the Pope declared we could eat meat, I was overjoyed until my mother and the rest of the extended family decided to continue the tradition.

Why, I don't know. Some kind of personal theological reason, or just plain halibut.

Anyway, sometimes when we would go visit some of well-meaning acquaintances who knew of my affliction but not my abhorrence, they would serve fish. Not the ones in a creamy sauce or rich tomato base. I could pretend to eat and enjoy that as I have had a lot of practice, but a broiled whale with head and tail. To me it was a stomach churning nauseating sight.

When that occurred, I would get out my many pills and inform the host the medicine badly interacted with the amino acids in the fish and I was sorry I could not partake.

He/she would have the offended look of major disappointment because they were convinced they had just baked or broiled a cure for my malady.

I assured them that what ever else they served with the meal would be fine. At least they didn't come out with the magnets, massages, foot therapy, meditation, vitamins, plant derivatives and other stuff similar to the snake oil salesmen in days of yore offered by well meaning "friends."

I prefer modern science to that nonsense. What does one do when he has a rare, chronic, progressive incurable disease?

I became a humor columnist, among other things!! And to quote the song, "I got me a pen and a paper, and I made my own little sign, I said thank you Lord for thinking about me, I'm alive and doing fine"..

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