I need a career which requires creativity, style, and flair, rather than actual vocational skills, of which I have few.

Something like marching body organs. One year the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day Parade featured a person dressed up as a human kidney. At least, I assume it was a person in a kidney costume and not a genuine kidney. I have enough to worry about without considering the possibility that my kidney may suddenly leave my body and scamper down Main Street between the marching band and the Daughters of the American Revolution float.

I spent weeks designing and sewing a costume representing a bleeding duodenal ulcer, which, when I pressed a button, oozed like the working model of a volcano I built for the eighth-grade science fair, only to be told by the parade organizer that it was in poor taste. Another potential job down the drain.

That’s when I saw a car with a magnetic sign on its side which read “Queen City  Strip-O-Grams.” It was parked in front of the Institute for the Blind. What was it doing THERE?

That could be the job for me! Stripping for the blind! A gal would not even have to remove any clothing. How would they know the difference? They would not know or care that I was a fully clothed senior citizen. I could show up in a ratty old bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, play some blaring bump-and-grind music, then relax in a lawn chair in the front of the room and read a good book.

At regular intervals, I could yell out, “Woo-hoo!” and toss an item of clothing into the crowd. I will have to buy some skimpy undergarments if I am to pull off the illusion. My own bloomers are the size of a revival tent. If I pinned the leg holes together, I could use them as a parachute.

They would make a dandy drop cloth for the sofa if I were painting the living room, but if I toss them into a crowd of blind people and they land on someone’s head, he could be suffocated by the billowing yards of fabric. I can just imagine the next day’s headlines. “Sight Impaired Man Killed in Tragic Pseudo-Erotic Dance Accident.”

The Strip-O-Gram company was not interested in my services. There must be a job out there for a person of my unique, although elusive, talents.

That is when I saw that ad recruiting research scientists to participate in a study of the influence of the MMP-1 gene on human skin. This could be it! My name in bold letters on the pages of prestigious medical journals! All I had to do was print up a phony degree and a fictional resume, and I was in!

The other researchers had found 33 people willing to expose the tender skin of their bare bottoms to direct sunlight.(Go figure. The pay must have been great. Not great enough for me to volunteer for that part of the experiment.)

No, they told me my assignment, should I decide to accept it, would be to stand by, clad in my official white lab coat, clipboard in hand, and discern whether there was a difference between smokers and a non-smoking control group.

The scientists had already discovered that the MMP-1 gene was very active in some bottoms exposed to ultraviolet light but undetectable in others. Why the difference? Was it the smoking habit?

For months I observed the bare bottoms, turning towards the sun, rotating and sweating like stadium hot dogs waiting for customers. Then I meticulously recorded my observations. As the experiment drew to a close, I was summoned to make my report.

“Well, Doctors,” I began, “I studied those bare bottoms closely and it is my considered opinion that none of them was smoking, although several were severely sunburned. The burning flesh smelled a bit like bacon sizzling in the skillet, but there definitely was no smoke arising from the bare bottoms of either group. I would stake my phony career on that. Yes, sir, I …what’s that? You meant that I was supposed to find out if the bottoms’ owners were cigarette smokers? Oh. Sorry.”

They did give me another chance, but this time I had to be a research subject instead of a research observer.

The researchers first withheld food from 50 of us hungry subjects for 12 hours. Then they presented us with a platter of freshly baked cookies. Half of the group were given the cookies, after which they worked cheerfully on the puzzle. The other half, of which I was one,  were denied the cookies and offered a radish instead. My researcher was later found dangling from the nearest light fixture with a radish stuffed up one nostril and a geometric puzzle shoved “where the sun don’t shine.”

Fired again.

The next morning I heard a radio ad in which a modeling agency had several open positions for large sized models. I couldn’t wait to call!

“Hello?” I said, “Is this the Heifer on the Hoof Modeling Agency? I heard in your ad that you were looking for ‘big, bald, beautiful women interested in highly paid careers in the glamorous world of high fashion.’ I am your gal! It wasn’t easy shaving my head. I missed a few spots and my scalp looks like a moth eaten fur coat. Also the razor slipped and cut off my left eyebrow, so I don’t know about the ‘beautiful’ part, but I have the ‘big and the bald’ part down pat. When can I start?

What’s that? you said ‘big, BOLD, and beautiful,’ not big, BALD, and beautiful?’ Oh. Never mind.”




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