“So,” said the doctor,”You say that you are troubled by insomnia. Is there something on your mind that is keeping you awake?”
“Well,” I said, “it is the aging thing. I am not accepting it well. Yesterday I put on a light jacket that I have not worn in a few years, and look what I found in the pocket,” I said, handing him a scrap of paper.
“It’s just an old grocery list, isn’t it?” he asked.
“Yes,” I said, “but look what is on it. “Bacon, eggs, sausage, ice cream, whole milk, cheese, hot sauce, green peppers, and onions.”
“I don’t get it,” he said. “What’s the problem?”
“Here, take a look at this week’s grocery list,” I said. “Mustache bleach, bran flakes, hair dye, hemorrhoid cream, skim milk, egg substitute, rice cakes, and antacids. It’s official; I’m old!” I wailed.
“What do you mean,” he asked.
“Take another look at that old list. I can’t eat any of that stuff anymore. I used to be able to digest anything. I could eat the chrome bumper off of a car and defecate steel wool a few hours later. Now if I eat a grilled cheese sandwich for lunch, everything shuts down. I ran out of bran flakes a few weeks ago and (how shall I put this politely?) I may have to add dynamite to my next grocery list if something doesn’t happen soon.
“The last time I ate out with my peers, we spent the entire meal commiserating about our bowel problems. At first, I thought they were saying ‘vowel problems’ and I said, ‘Yeah, I can never remember if it is ‘i before e or e before i.’I guess my hearing is going, too.
“I keep a fancy dish of antacids on my table like after-dinner mints,” I added. “Did you see the hot sauce, green peppers, and onions on that old list? The last time I ate at Casa de Pedro’s, I belched and flames shot out of my mouth like a ruptured gas line. It set Pedro’s serape on fire and I have been banned for life.
“Furthermore, whole milk, ice cream, butter, and steak are now out of the question. My youthful blood used to flow through my pliant, pristine veins like water through a firefighter’s hose. Now it is so cholesterol-laden that it has the consistency of industrial sludge. If I open a vein, I bleed candle wax.
“Yesterday I stepped on a piece of glass and cut a three-inch gash in my foot. The sluggish blood oozed across the floor like The Blob in that Steve McQueen movie of the same name.
“Did you hear that? I am making cultural references to 50-year-old movies and dead actors,” I wailed, dabbing at my teary eyes. “Now look what I am doing! I am wiping my eyes with an embroidered hankie and then stuffing up the sleeve of my cardigan! I am old, I tell you!”
“Now, now,” said the doctor. “You are just overtired from lack of sleep. Do you have any other physical symptoms?”
“Yes, my internal thermostat seems to be out of whack. First I am too cold, so I turn the furnace way up. A half-hour later, the house is so hot that the miniblinds melt, varnish drips off the furniture, and wallpaper falls off the walls in strips. So I turn the furnace down and then I get so cold that frost forms on my mustache. I just can not get comfortable.”
“I am going to write you a prescription, Mrs. Thiery,” he said. “But the best advice I can give you is to keep a positive attitude. Keep telling yourself that you are a young and vibrant woman. Here is my bill. You can pay the receptionist on the way out. You are eligible for Medicare, right?”
“Medicare! I’ll give you Medicare, Mister!”
I decked him with one punch. Doc was right; it is important to have a positive attitude. I am positive that he won’t regain consciousness until sometime next week.