Hey, where'd that cheery 26-year-old world-beater go? Oh, THERE you are, you little rascal: sitting in your cardiologist's office, trying to remember the meditation tapes your cousin who had the same blood-pressure thing gave you! That's right, just try to remember the "Calm" section: "Imagine a forest brook flowing gently..." But shucks, you've never been near a forest brook in your life. You're in a fifth-floor cardiologist's waiting room, and you can smell death on the grimy cover of every old Reader's Digest on the table. Every article in the August '97 issue is about somebody in the Midwest who had a worse disease than you and overcame it with positive thinking. Somehow you know there won't be an article on you in the upcoming issues. The best you can hope for is an obituary in the classifieds.
Worse yet, you know the cardiologist is going to tell you it's all your own fault. And the funny part is...it IS all your own fault! Who finished off that whole roll of Pringles? Who was proud to look "a lot like Rush Limbaugh"? You, thass who, you scamp, you!
And now you're going to die! What a hoot, huh? Hee hee! Ha ha!
And you're going to pay this cardiologist half your savings...just to tell you the bad news! Oh well, Rush was still probably right about socialized medicine...and you can't take it with you, can ya?
After all, who'll inherit when you kick -- that bitch Laura and the two kids? You still love the kids, of course. Yeah. Sorta. Except when they visit. But Laura? Fuck it, you'd sooner leave it all to a cat hospital.
There's no afterlife, right? Jesus, there better not be. An eternity with Laura and those two. Anything but that.
"I'm not ready to die...I haven't finished reading the club guide!"
But what hurts the most is the ones who aren't dying. The ones as old as you who went into an age coma, like Michael Douglas. You can't tell if they're a bad 37 or a really good 70. Either way, you hate them. They cheated somehow...maybe one of those health fads was for real, melatonin or sesame oil. And they knew, the pigs. They had some kind of insider information and they bought the right supplements. And now they're going to go on living, sunning themselves in the desert or down in Florida, one of the hot places where old reptiles like to bask. They'll be constipated...they'll be flabby...they'll be forgetful and tell the same stories to the checkout ladies at the Scottsdale Safeway...but they'll be alive.
Maybe there'll be a big plague, like in that Stephen King novel, and everybody'll die-especially the health freaks. That would be so wonderful -- too good to be true. They'll live. What a gyp. It's not fair.
Of course there's a little voice that says, "Fair? What about that spina bifida girl in fifth grade?" Yeah, but she was real happy, everybody said. She'll probably live to be a hundred.
Rush isn't as funny; you know he'd tell you it's your own doing, just as every bum's lot in life is his own responsibility. You don't like Rush any more. It's his fault you never lost weight, somehow. If HE had, YOU would've. He should've set an example, damn it.
Wait...is that Socialism? Well, even if it is!
You call Laura and try crying. You mess it up and hack up a lot of phlegm; she tells you to hold the phone away from your mouth, for God's sake. It sort of goes downhill from there. Definitely leave the money to somebody charitable. Not liberal, just charitable. Orphans...are there still orphans?
And so we die. And look bad doing it, most of us. Why? Why must there be death and disease in this world?