February 27, 2014


Have you ever gone to the doctor just because you didn't feel quite right, but weren't sure exactly what was wrong with you? 

Prepare yourself.  A problem that would have been cured in your grandmother's day by a strong dose of tonic will now cost you in the neighborhood of three months' salary, the antique clock in your dining room, and all the fillings in your teeth. 

There is no such thing as a GP anymore.   The General Practitioner has been reduced to bones in the La Brea tar pits, along with the rest of the dinosaurs. 

"I'm feeling weak and tired," I told a Doctor of Internal Medicine.
He put his hand on my wallet and told me to cough (Henny Youngman wasn't kidding!), after which he recommended that I see a heart specialist. 

"That's it?" I cried.  "No blood work?  No EKG?  No stress test?  Just 'go to a heat specialist'?" 

"Yes," he replied, while counting out my life savings. 

So I went to a "heart man,' as he's known in the biz. 

He presented me with a bill before he even examined me, then said, "You have six months to live." 

I looked at the bill.  I'd never seen so many zeroes in one place before in my life.  "I can't pay this!" 

"OK, then I'll give you another six months." (Did Henny Youngman go to medical school?) 

"Oh, and I'm sending you to a respiratory specialist," he said. 

When I showed up there, the respiratory specialist sent his secretary out to give me my bill in the parking lot!  On it was scrawled the name of a neurologist and the time of my appointment. 

The neurologist's office called me and gave me my bill total over the phone.  I was then told to report to the ICU. 

At the hospital, still not knowing what was wrong with me, I was placed inside an oxygen tent and put on suicide watch.  When the doctor finally came in, he looked just like Henny Youngman. 

I took one look at him and said, "Take my life...please."

February 20, 2014


I went to my doctor the other day to get my yearly check-up.  I was not worried.  I walked in with my head held high, feeling confident that, in the intervening year, not much could have changed.  Last year, I was, if not in the pink, certainly rather far removed from the red.
“Ms. Buckingham, the doctor will see you now.”
I followed Florence Nightingale back to the examining room.  I actually don’t mind going to see my doctor.  He’s one of the good guys, and also happens to be a friend.  I’ve been his patient for 25 years.
After I undressed and put on that “Too thin for paper towels, too thick for toilet paper” Paris original with the open-air back, ‘Doctor Rick,’ as I like to call him, sauntered in.
His usual salutation is a peck on the cheek.
But not this time.
This time, I was greeted with gales of laughter.
When he finally guffawed his last guffaw, he said, “OK, who are you and what have you done with Carson?”
“You’re a funny guy, Doc.  Maybe you should be writing comedy and I should be laughing at patients.”
“You look terrible,” was his witty rejoinder.
“I’m just a little tired.”
 “A little tired!  Run over by a tire, maybe!”
Keep in mind that I’m paying him for this.
“Well, let’s get some blood work done,” he sighed.  I’ll be back in 10 minutes.”  Then he stepped out and sent his nurse in to draw the blood.  I finally figured out why he does this.  I think he faints at the sight of the stuff.  Whenever he has insomnia, he just drives to the local emergency room, and doesn’t wake up until the next day.
Anyway, the nurse, or ‘Nosferatu,’ as I have dubbed her, appeared with a needle and two-dozen empty vials.
“Are you really going to take enough blood to fill all those vials?” I asked, alarmed.
“Hmmmmm,” she hmmed, appraising me as an antiquarian would a badly worn sixth century ottoman, “No, I don’t think so.  With the shape you’re in, it just might cause cardiac arrest.”
Another comedian.
After the blood was drawn, she brought me a rare steak to eat while the analysis was being done.  Twenty minutes later, Doctor Rick returned.
“What’s the black armband for?” I asked.
“Ummm, I just didn’t want to wait until the last minute.”
“I really think you ought to stop watching those M*A*S*H reruns.”
“Get dressed and come into my office.  We’ll talk.”
Trepidation began to creep into the proceedings.  I dressed and joined him in his office.  On his desk were scattered tasteful pamphlets about funeral pre-arranging and burial plot availability.
Doctor Rick took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes.  “To start with, your cholesterol is a little high.”
“How high?”
“800!  At 800 my circulatory system should be composed mainly of what . . . cement?”
“Actually, everyone’s amazed that you can even think coherently at all.”
“I’m a humor writer.  I don’t have to think coherently, so this is not a problem.  What else?”
“Well, your blood sugar is a little high, too.”
“How high?”
“You shouldn’t be eating any foods that begin with any letter of the alphabet.”
Let me tell you, it only got worse.  I finally left with 35 prescriptions, six Medic Alert bracelets, a lifetime ambulance pass, and a strict diet that was comprised mostly of tree bark.  I am spending the rest of my days sounding like a maraca when I walk, a sleigh bell when I write, and a banshee when I move my bowels.
Medical care after fifty doesn’t really make you live longer . . . it just seems that way.

February 15, 2014


People are always asking me, “Do blondes have more fun?”  I have to make things up!  If I told them how I really spend my evenings, L’Oreal’s carefully built reputation would go right down the toilet, let me tell you!  They’d have to change their entire advertising campaign to something like this:  “Want to spend wildly entertaining evenings grooming your guinea pig, snacking on gummy bears and watching Leno?  Why not be a blonde and find out what ‘bored to death’ really means?”  The TV ads would show a blonde in a food-stained J.C. Penney sweat suit watching a golf game.  On the table next to her would be a nearly empty bowl of taco chips and an open quart of milk with lipstick stains on it.  Basically, it would be my life flashing before millions of eyes.
Do blondes have more fun?  Give me a break.  I don’t need that kind of pressure put on me.  I get enough from people I know—who needs it from Heidi Klum and Cosmopolitan magazine? 
And this is only a small example of the stress I go through, as a blonde, on a day to day basis.
You know the poster, “STRESS KILLS”?  I wish that’s all it did, don’t you?  I do pretty well at the start of the week.  I can cope.  I can deal with things.  By Wednesday, I start to get a little shaky in the control department.  I begin answering the phone with, “What now!” rather than “Hello.”  The paperboy tosses the paper at me, and I toss it right back at him, but I aim for the head.  I’ve been through three paperboys this week alone, AND I got a call from the Yankees about a relief pitcher job.
At any rate, by Friday, I’m a total wreck.  Gone is Monday’s quiet grace under pressure.  Here’s how my Fridays generally go:
The first thing I do is climb the tree in my front yard to get my paper.  This is where the new paperboy throws it now.  It gives him time to get out of range.  Scratched and bleeding, I climb back down, ripping a Pierre Cardin robe to rags.  I then totter back into the house and read the obituaries.  If my name isn’t there, I continue my day.  If a paperboy’s name is there, I throw a party.
Next on the agenda is a trip to the grocery store, which is so crowded that I can’t see what I’m grabbing.  All I know is that I usually end up with four grocery bags stuffed with Pop Tarts and kumquats.  I’m still not entirely sure what kumquats are, but I have a lot of them!
Then I drive home and back my car into the garage, remembering, too late, that I don’t have a garage…or a car.  What I do have is a return bus token in my pocket, somebody’s smashed up Toyota in my driveway, and an open-air bathroom.
So please, people.  Lock your cars.  Take your keys.  Don’t help a good blonde go bad.

February 9, 2014


        I have spent the past two weeks worrying about housecleaning.  Not doing it, just worrying about it. 
You see, we are those “lower than whale poop” types of folks known to the surrounding homeowners as “renters.” 
I don’t know why renters are regarded this way.  Stij and I are kind, considerate people and have not received so much as a polite “your front yard sucks, it is a weed-ridden mess, clean it up or else” note from the HOA.
Perhaps it is the former renters of this house who we are paying the social price for.  From what I understand, before us, there were a group of Harley guys who would laugh out loud upon hearing the word, ‘muffler.’  They shouted when they spoke because they had no hearing left. They worked the graveyard shift, presumably at a home for the deaf, and would pull out of the driveway just as the entire neighborhood was drifting off to sleep. 
Or maybe it was the renters before them.  People still talk about the family who never went outside wearing anything but head-to-toe  Ewok costumes…at least everyone thought they were costumes.  Some people assumed that it was in protest of the ‘no dogs’ rule, but there is far from majority agreement on this.
We’ve been living here for nine years now.  Never missed a rent payment.  Quiet, keep to ourselves.  Maybe they think we’re serial killers.  And we did rebuild the house at our expense after the giant bread mishap and actually added improvements previously absent, so no harm, no foul there.
At any rate, I was discussing housecleaning, wasn’t I?
When one rents, you see, one is subject to a demeaning little visit every so often from the Property Manager (we have one of those, too, making us overseen by the owner, the HOA, and the PM.  San Quentin is less surveilled.).  They send someone out to do a walk-through to be sure you have the required safety features, and aren’t hiding any dogs on the premises.
So I figured I’d better start cleaning.  We are not slobs, but there is a bit of clutter around, and I really could rake the living room a bit more often than I do.
Stij entrusted the cleaning to me, since he had to spend time making a living.  He walked into the living room just as I was finishing up.
“You’ve been doing this for over an hour and it doesn’t look like you’ve picked up a single thing,” he remarked.
“I haven’t.  I drove to the store and bought this,” I said, indicating the brand new easel, canvas, tubes of paint and jar of brushes.
“I see.  You’re going to do a painting called ‘Still Life Among the Ruins’ are you?”
I smiled and shook my head sadly because he had completely missed the brilliance of my cunning plan.  “I can avoid cleaning this room entirely!  If people think you’re an artist, they forgive a mess!”
“And exactly how much did today’s scheming set us back, Lucy.  You have some ‘splainin’ to do.”
“$167.00.  But look how much time it saved!  I can do other things, now.”
“Such as?”
“Well, I bought some cactus plants to put in the den.  It will make the layer of dust look like part of the d├ęcor.”
“You’re going to have to do some cleaning, you know.”
“Oh, what for?  I like the house to have a ‘lived-in’ look, don’t you?”
“This one has a ‘no survivors’ look.”
“You’re very funny for someone with no teeth.”
“I have teeth.”
“Not for long.”
“I’m going back to my shop. The inspector is due at 4:00 today. You have six hours. Will you be ready with a house that will pass?”
“Of course.”
“Oh, and by the way, I think the refrigerator needs to be defrosted.”
“Because I don’t think there’s supposed to be frost on the outside.”
“And there is a bunch of stuff—I say ‘stuff’ because I can’t identify it—that needs to be thrown out in there.”
“Is it ripening green or rotting green?”
“Let’s put it this way:  When I say I am going to raid the refrigerator, I mean that that’s what I intend to spray it with.”
Stij glances around the living room, shudders, then goes back to making cabinets.
I went back to work.  I pulled out every souvenir from every place we’d ever traveled and festooned the bedroom with them.  This tells the viewer that we are world travelers and have little time to clean.
The kitchen was next.  I blowtorched the outside of the refrigerator to melt the frost, then blowtorched the floor to evaporate all the water.  It gave the linoleum a really interesting look, too.
While sorting through my pots and pans, I discovered a really filthy roasting pan that I absolutely couldn’t get clean, so I filled it up with fresh apples that I bought earlier in the day, and brought it over to my neighbors’ house.  Neighbors always return pots and pans sparkling clean, so that problem was now taken care of, since I wanted to make a roast later in the week.
I thought about cleaning all the light fixtures, but then decided to just opt for stronger bulbs.  Much to my delight, I discovered that it’s possible to buy 5000 watt light bulbs!  The fixtures looked great after all the dirt burned off.
As far as the bathrooms went, I just bought a huge piece of limburger cheese for each and closed the doors.  One sniff and no inspector in the world would want to venture in there—especially after I tell him that Stij has Irritable Bowel Syndrome and has been having bouts of explosive diarrhea.
So that was that, and it only took me a couple of hours.  I sat down and watched a movie.
At 4:00, the bell rang.  I dashed to the door and admitted the inspector, who seemed reticent to enter, but I chalked that up to shyness.
The tour was completed in record time, and the inspector left, giving us a passing grade.
Stij walked into a house that didn’t look much different from when he left it.  “I hesitate to ask, but did we pass?”
“Well, he didn’t buy a lot of my explanations, so I finally told him that  he had to keep it a secret, but that this house had been chosen for next month’s ‘Better Homes & Gardens’ layout on quick and effective cleaning methods, and they had to take the ‘Before’ pictures before I could do anything to the house.”
“He bought that?”
“After I told him he could be part of the photo shoot, he did.  Evidently, his mom is a big fan of that magazine.
“So what happens in a month?”
“Oh, I think we’ll have moved out by then.”

February 4, 2014


Did you ever find yourself roped into tending bar at a party?  Now, I don't know about you, but if it's anything but a glass of wine, beer, or something straight, I'm at a total loss.  But I'd made the mistake of asking the hostess if there was anything I could do to help, and KAZAM!  I was in charge of libations.

Of course, the first person who walked up wanted some ghastly concoction called a "Sea Breeze."  Not wanting to reveal my ignorance, I mixed up a glass of salt water and sand and handed him a paper fan.  He gave me a funny look and walked away.

"I'd like a 'Harvey Wallbanger,' please," a rotund little fellow said.

"OK," I replied cheerfully.  I gave him a glass of half orange juice and half horseradish.  I didn't know if his name was Harvey or not, but he sure was banging on the walls after he gulped that down!

"A 'Fuzzy Navel,' please."

"Sure!"  Orange juice and cat hair!  Next!

"Vodka and tonic, please."

Easy!  Stoli and Geritol!  Who needs bartending school?

"A 'Pina Colada,' if you would."

"Comin' right up!"  If I recalled my Spanish correctly, "pina colada" translated to "spastic colon," so I gave him a glass of six squares of Ex-Lax dissolved in hot prune juice.  No one saw him again after he drank it, but looking out the window, I could see lines forming at the service station restrooms across the street, since no one could get into the bathroom here.

"I'd like a 'Mai Tai.'"

"You already have-a your tie," I replied, trying to sound as Italian as he did, so he wouldn't feel uncomfortable.  He walked away looking confused.

"A 'Boilermaker,' please."

"Right!"  A glass of apricot juice, Night Train, and sterno.

"What IS this?" he gasped after his first sip.

"Your 'Boilermaker.'  I get boils every time I drink it."

"Okay, let me rephrase," he said.  "I'd like a shot and a beer."



 I shrugged.  "Okay."  I punched him in the nose and handed him a beer.

A young woman stepped up.  "I'd like an 'Orgasm,' please."

"Who wouldn't?"

"I mean to drink!"

"Honey, what you do behind closed doors is your business.  Who's next?"

"A 'Rusty Nail,' please."

"No problem.  If you'll just step out into the garage…"

Am I a great bartender, or what?