Going from bad to worse to . . .
When it comes to health, I have always considered myself a lucky guy. When I tell my family that, they roll their eyes and ask if I’d forgotten that my heart was laying on a table while some nice medical folks played around inside my chest earlier this year.
Oh pshaw, I say.
My daughter says that’s like saying, “other than that, how was the play Mrs. Lincoln?”
And like a lot of guys, I do tend to ignore some things. I’ve always figured if it’s serious enough we’ll figure it out sooner or later. Until then, I don’t want to dwell on every little ache and pain.
Except the other day. I had this pounding headache that hurt all the way from the top of my head down to the corns and bunions below.
I opened my desk and was looking for the bottle of aspirin – nuclear strength – when the phone rang so loud it rattled my wisdom. (No, I didn’t leave out the word teeth.)
“This here is your lucky day my good man,” a very loud and very twangy voice boomed into my ear. “This here is Bob Eubanks and we are calling some of the original contestants from The Newlywed Game with a free prize! All you have to do is answer the following question, when is the best time to make whoopee?”
Good Lord! That twang and the stupid gimmick could only mean one thing. Bubba Castiron was calling me . . . again!
Did I mention how badly my head hurt?
“Bubba, first off – the Newlywed Show was on in the 1960s. My wife and I may have been together for 40 years, but we didn’t even know each other back then. And second off, when we make whoopee is none of your business.”
“Don’t happen very often, huh?” Bubba cackled. “Doggone Timmons, I thought for sure the Bob Eubanks thing would get you. I figured at your age you’d just believe you forgot being on that show.”
“Bubba, listen, didn’t we just talk a couple of weeks ago? You only call every few months, if that often. Why are you calling so soon?”
“I got to tell you, Timmons, that hurts my feelings. I mean I think a lot of you and value your opinion and all. Why you got to be so cross?”
Inside my head a thousand tiny men with jackhammers were pounding away on the back side of my eyeballs. And now, on top of everything else, I was feeling guilty about being short with Bubba.
“Ah, look, Bubba. I didn’t mean to-”
“Ha!” Bubba shouted. “I was just yanking your chain. The only time my feelings get hurt is when the store is out of Falstaff beer.”
“Bubba! Listen, I really am busy and it really is a bad day for this,” I steamed back. “Exactly what is it I can do for you?”
“Dang, Timmons, you really is in a mood today, huh? You know what you need, son? What you need is what my great-grandpappy used to call an altitude adjustment.”
“Timmons, you just got to open your eyes to the wonders of the world, to a meridian of possibilities.”
Why do I bother?
“Look, I’ll tell you what Timmons. You play along with me on this and I will stop bugging you for the day, AND I promise you that you will feel better. I am going to pry your eyes open to the wonders of the world like a metal key opening a can of Spam.”
Prying my eyes actually might help with the pain. And even though I had no illusions that whatever Bubba had up his sleeve would be worthwhile, I was willing to do darn near anything to end this conversation.
“Fine, Bubba. I’ll play your silly game. What is it?”
“OK, Timmons. Good deal. Now, what if I could show you something that you have never, ever seen before and will never, ever see again. Would that make you change your crappy outlook today?”
Bubba, I am old enough to be on Medicare. I have worked from one coast to the other and have seen an awful lot. I seriously doubt that you can show me something that A) I have never seen before and B) will never see again. It just isn’t possible.”
“Yeah, OK, Mr. Know-It-All, that’s just fine,” Bubba said. “If I can do that, will you admit you’re wrong and adjust that attitude?”
I just wanted this to be over. “OK, fine, Bubba.”
“Then here’s what I want you to do, Timmons. Close your eyes.”
How would he know? I just sat there.
“Dang it, Timmons. No cheating. Now close them eyes!”
Sigh. I closed them.
“OK, now I want you to imagine we are in a movie theater. And imagine me holding a big tub of hot buttered popcorn. Got it?
“Yeah, yeah, I got it Bubba. But if you’re thinking about a movie, that won’t work. You said that you’re going to show me something I’ve never seen before and will never see again. You can show me a movie I’ve never seen, but nothing would prevent me from seeing it in the future.”
“Would you relax, Timmons,” Bubba said. “Stop getting ahead of yerself. Just keep those eyes closed.”
The pain in my head wasn’t getting any better.
“OK, now focus on the big ol’ tub of hot-buttery popcorn. Can you smell it, Timmons?”
I’ve got to admit that I was starting to think about how good that would taste. Warm butter/ A little salt . . .
“OK, Timmons. Now I reach my hand way down in the tub and pull out one popped kernel from the bottom. Can you see it?”
“Yeah, Bubba. I know what a popcorn kernel looks like.”
“I pop that puppy in my mouth and there you go! You never saw that kernel before and you’ll never see it again! Now open them eyes Timmons and stop overthinking everything. Maybe you just oughta be thankful for what you got!”
Just like that, Bubba was gone. The pain wasn’t, but it didn’t feel quite as bad.
Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.