Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Great Ear Ache of 09'

After finding out the cost of ear drops I decided to drop the President a note. It went something like this:
Dear Mr. President,
For seven days now I’ve been through the nightmare of an ear that can no longer hear and only ache. I’ve stuck everything I can think of in there to no avail and as a last resort must resort to appealing to a higher power for help. This all started with my irresponsible behavior at the lake, swimming with reckless abandon underwater with no ear plugs. After that it was first one thing and then another as I began the process of prodding my ear into hearing again. I’ve drained, flushed, pulled, blow dried and speared my ear with cue tips in an effort to get some relief but like the Katrina survivors, the water just won’t go away. I’ve spent seven days listening to my dentures rattling around in my mouth, my heart beating and echoes from noises I cannot describe but know are there. I’ve chewed food in a state of torture similar, I’m sure, to what the CIA must have done to numerous suspected terrorists, as I hear my teeth coming together with each bite, a grinding hollow sound followed by swallowing which I will not attempt to describe here for fear it would offend. Suffice to say, if your health care program can give me relief, count on my vote in the next election. The last time I heard, ear drops were running about a hundred seventy dollars without insurance and a hundred and six with it.
A potential supporter when you run for re-election

So, there it is, and I didn’t even mention the hemorrhoids, which I’m sure will be covered somewhere in that one thousand page bill. If they’re not, our political geniuses would be woefully neglectful voting “yes”. I wonder what hemorrhoid would come under. Probably hidden somewhere under “recoverable assets” or something like that. Well, we bailed out the banks, what’s the problem?

I don’t know beans about the healthcare debate. All I know is when I was growing up my dad made many a decision based on security for his family and that included health care. Any job he chose to take, after Air Force retirement, had to include health care for his wife and five children. Oh, he had many an opportunity to speculate on various employment opportunities, make no mistake. Ol’ Bill Slater would come by at least once a year and dangle a financial karat in dad’s face. “Harmon, he’d say, this cannot miss!” Whether it was trampolines at the beach or a goofy golf course in some remote area next to a Dairy Queen, ol’ Bill had it going on. Dad never bit. He always put his family ahead of the karat and made sure health care was in the package.
We all grow up looking at security, money and jobs in different ways. Some take chances, some find security with education, and some just work their tails off looking for a better life. Some of us are chance takers and some just aren’t and just like dad, I’ve always opted for the security of a job that carries good health insurance. I figure most of us are like that. But then we have others of us who, for whatever reasons, just can’t seem to get a handle on a job that carries health benefits. Oh I know those of us who have it pay a lot for it but it’s where we want to be with ourselves and our family’s wellbeing. A fundamental difference between a liberal and a conservative might be in their view of security and its source. I’ll leave the rest up to the voter. Now, as for that ear ache. I’d actually had it for so long the experience of hearing out of one ear was beginning to grow on me. It’s amazing what you can hear when you only have one ear working. Some call it selective hearing. With only one ear you’re very careful about what goes in the ear and what comes out your mouth. I suppose we all could use a little more of that.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Of Mice and Men

They said it was “the worst one we’ve ever seen”. And as I sit here now I still cannot believe there was more than just one. It’s called denial and we do it all the time around here. The car begins to sound funny when you start it up and you think after a while, well, it’s still starting, must be normal for this time of mileage. A mouse runs across the kitchen floor and you think, well, he’s probably just trying to beat the heat. Denials always start with the word, “well” for some reason. You see this dark little shadow scurrying along the baseboard in the living room and think, well, I must be seeing things, there’s no way that mouse could have made it in here. Well, he didn’t, they did and according to the “experts” we have a problem and they are partying in just about every room in this house. I thought we had just one, sort of a pet you might say, and even wondered why the dogs (who couldn’t catch a mouse) would, for no apparent reason, go into a barking frenzy right there in the living room but figured, well, they hear a lot better than I, maybe there’s a deer outside. Mouse pellets were found in the pantry on the third shelf and in my denial it became obvious to me that we had a gifted little fellow capable of climbing and squeezing between shelves until he found what he wanted. Well, I thought, he’s quite the circus mouse, this one is (so I named him Barnum). I thought of Steven King’s cute little fellow in The Green Mile. Well, there is no way I am going to risk harming our gifted little visitor who, after all, is only one and just trying to stay cool. Enter the daughter and a friend from Tennessee, who has had extensive training in mouse affairs and in fact may be considered a czar in these matters. She says, “Daddy, according to my friend here, who’s considered a czar where mice are concerned, we are experiencing an infestation.” “Really, I say, is he an exterminator?” “No, but he’s worked on oil pipelines”, she says. Well, then what could he possibly know about my circus mouse. “They’re stealing the dogs’ food, bringing in pine straw and paper and setting up house in the attic, for Pete’s sake! We could start a pellet farm in my old bedroom”, she says. Well, maybe he’s got a girlfriend like ol’ Mickey…wouldn’t want to deny him one of life’s necessities. We could handle two. “We’ve got to get a cat, she says, and it would have to be a wild one.” “That won’t work, says the pipeline exterminator trained mouse czar, there’s too many now for just one wild cat.” Well, I’ve never seen more than one. “Do you guys have insurance for this sort of thing?” he says. “Mouse insurance?” “We’ve always been more concerned about termites, if you want the truth, I lament, looks like we put our eggs in the wrong nest.” “You’d better call an expert”, he says. “Well, why do that, I seem to have two standing right here.” “We did put some poison out last night”, he says. Well, it appears these two are determined to kill Mr. Barnum Trapeze and his significant other by any means available. “You might see them acting weird, going in circles and looking for a drink.”, he says. Well, that’s pretty much normal behavior around here after five.
Tonight I found my Barnum and Bailey pride and joy lying on the kitchen floor. Got there just in time to see a tear in his eye and a look that seemed to say, “Thanks for a couple of months of leftovers in air conditioned comfort. Take care of the family (not sure if he meant his or mine) and for Pete’s sake, get some dogs with a sense of smell!” Little fellow had one hell of a vocabulary for a mouse.