I have a remarkable record of avoiding places I don’t want to be.
The only times I’ve been in a police station were work related.
The one and only time I spent the night in the hospital I had a reaction to getting my tonsils out. I was about 12 and the kid I was in with, a couple years older. Since my parents were in the biz, I was assured extra eyes would be on me.
The kid was a juvenile delinquent. During the late shift, his friends were in the room with a bottle of hooch and a deck of cards. I don’t know what became of the orderlies charged with protecting me, but my wallet, and all the change I had for the vending machines, was gone. Still, I was smart enough to play dumb when the powers-that-be questioned me. There was no squealing allowed in Brooklyn, then or now.
I never go to the doctor. My last checkup I was standing on a line full of nude boys trying out for Little League and when the doctor got to me, he grabbed my scrotum and said, “Look left and cough.” I executed perfectly.
Growing up, I took to lying, especially when getting healthy was all the rage.
“How’s your cholesterol?” Karen would ask.
“Good!” I’d say, despite my breakfast of choice on weekends: sausage, bacon, buttered rye toast, eggs, and home fries.
“How’s your blood pressure?” Karen would ask. “Cool,” I would reply. I really had no idea, but since I drank and partied like a Viking.
This went on until my mother, on her deathbed, called me on it.
“I want you to have a prostate exam before I die, and I mean it!”
Ouch. Not only did she call my bluff, but she also picked the worst hole to be violated.
My dog Rudy instinctively had a remarkable will to live. You could bring Rudy to the vet’s office unable to walk or breathe, bleeding, knocking on heaven’s door, but when he saw the place, he would straighten himself and appear completely normal.
I took the same mystical approach to my checkups, thinking, like Rudy, I could summon my inner being to produce harmony.
The nurse tightened the blood pressure gizmo and then released it. Unbeknown to all, I was chanting soundless mantra, which loosely translated, means please don’t pee in my pants.
“What is it?” Karen asked, bracing for the worst.
I expected to hear “Vodka Over Infinity Squared” or something like that. But it was 135-82, from what I understand, pretty good.
My chest X-Ray must have also looked good, because the doctor called it a “chest” X-Ray and not a “tumor survey.”
No one looked in my head yet. Insiders will tell you, therein lies most of my problems.
“I am better looking than a lot of men my age. Gene Simmons, for example, who suffers from Swollen Tongue, and Richard Gere, who can’t hold onto a babe. Consider the plight of Martin Short: His real name is Short, and he is extremely diminutive. How do you NOT see that coming? It’s like the old joke about Lou Gehrig, who died from, you guessed it, Lou Gehrig’s disease. You would think the doctor might have caught on.
Lou: “I don’t feel good, Doc. I feel like I’m dying.”
Doctor: “Hmm. Weird. I can’t imagine what could possibly be wrong with you.”
Deadheads used to wear T-shirts that read: “If Jerry can turn 50, so can I.” Garcia dropped dead at age 53.
Let’s face it. We fear death and it rolls around in the recesses of our mind like bad acid. When we are 15, we simply do not believe it is possible. When we are 30, we think it will happen someday, but too far away to matter. By the time we are in our 40s, we figure if we act like jackasses in a college dorm we can fool Doctor Death from stopping at our door.
Take my word for it. That’s the day you turn the corner — when you delude yourself into thinking you haven’t lost a thing and start acting like someone you are not.
I am happy to report the only medication I have been prescribed is called Viagra Falls.
By the time you reach my age, your friends are beginning to go and you find yourself wondering what those that remain will say about you when your day comes.
Phil: Hear about Murf?
Mike: That prick owed me 100 bucks!
Phil: Me too!
When Davy Jones met his second wife, she said, “What do you say we run upstairs and make passionate love?” and he said, “At my age, it’s one or the other.”
Bottom line, to paraphrase Jack Nicholson, is there’s ample reason for me to assume another decade of bad behavior is in the offering. I just have to understand the old tongue ain’t what it used to be.
Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.