Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Cancer is the One Shaped Like a Crab

“Ralph and I liked to play an awful joke on people. You see we’ve got neuromuscular syndromes the doctors haven’t even named yet. His will probably be Ralph Syndrome, if his doctor doesn’t steal it and name it for himself. But these syndromes cause us excruciating pain, wreck our immune systems, and if we don’t take our pills, we shake like fish out of water. It’s a fight just to appear normal, and since you can’t point out your neuromuscular system on a skeleton, everyone thinks we’re making it up. Instead, we say we’ve got cancer. Cancer is horrible, so horrible that it’s got an amazing social debit account. You can blame anything on it. One time Ralph was spazzing in the bus depot and I accidentally said he had cancer. My tongue slipped. The thing is, everybody turned helpful. Cancer doesn’t do that to somebody, but the mere word gave everyone sympathy – the sympathy they probably should have had for him anyway. Then things got away from us. We mentioned dying of cancer at this one restaurant, then noticed free desserts coming our way. Free rounds at bars, too. One time a guy drove Ralph and me all the way home, from out of state, thinking I had kidney cancer. I don’t know if all people with cancer get this treatment (maybe they get it by claiming they have neuromuscular disorders), but I hope so. I know I always buy rounds for anyone coming out of the hospital, so long as they aren’t coming off a liver transplant. This one’s on me, too.”

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