A DISCLAIMER FOR THE DULL-NORMAL:
WHAT FOLLOWS BELOW THE JUMP IS A
IT IS ALSO A WORK OF
IF YOU ARE OF A MIND TO GET ALL WHINY AND BUTTHURT ABOUT SOMETHING THAT DOESN’T EVEN HAVE YOUR NAME IN IT,
THE REST OF YOU ZOMBIES…PLEASE ENJOY.
I was up early and at the computer when my wife came home from work that morning last week. I was feeling pretty good, prepping for a new podcast by going through the Twitter timelines and blogs of my most hated enemies. It was going well. I had screen-capped about 140 new hate-filled comments since I went to bed last night. It was easy work because I had a fresh F5 key and the V and C keys were less than three days old.
My woman came into my bedroom where the computer is and dropped her cash on the corner of the desk. It’s a big slab of particleboard balanced on two of those orange and white sawhorses you used to see in construction zones before they went to the ugly, squat orange cone-barrels you see today. She stole the particleboard from a construction site one night, and the sawhorses came from an “excellent friend” I know. I didn’t ask where he got them. My “desk” is so big we had to move her bed out of the room. She sleeps on the couch now. I love her so much.
It actually works out better because she can close the door when I’m doing my podcast instead of having to hear me screech out vile, unfunny parody songs in my horrible, unmodulated voice that used to be kind of mellow when I pretended to be on the radio for the government and even before that when I was a festering online hemorrhoid on a satellite radio forum, and in my spare time they let me host a shift playing show tunes. I like to make it sound more important than that, but in truth it wasn’t even as important as it sounds here.
Anyhoo, Little Missy seemed down after I collected her pay, separated the singles out from the big bills and pocketed the bigger pile. Only $56 today, but she got to keep four Lincolns, which is actually a very good night for her. I turned back to the screen and she kissed my bald, dented head and whispered “’Night, daddy.”
I started to say “Sleep tight, baby,” like I always do, but something in her voice wasn’t right. I turned and said, “Hey.”
She looked at me, her face lobster pink. Tears welled in her eyes. This was odd because I had always been the crybaby of the house.
“Are you okay? You look like you have a fever.” I said.
“I’m fine,” she said wearily. One tear rolled out, picked up some of the eye-liner she wore at work, at dripped a thick black trail down her cheek. Then another.
“Are you sure? You never cry until after-”
“I said I’m FINE!” She stomped out to the living room.
I called after her, “Well, make sure you take your medicine.”
Every day I pushed my rolly-chair out to make a couple hot dogs for lunch while she slept on the sofa. There was always an empty pint close by. On the floor, the TV tray, tucked in the potted plant. Bourbon. Always with the bourbon. She called it medicine. I don’t know what it cured.
She didn’t answer.
After I finished a couple hours of pre-recording bits for my radio show, I headed for the kitchen. She wasn’t on the sofa. I poked around the couch and didn’t find her medicine bottle.
Where was she? It wasn’t like her to just go out and not say anything to me. I looked behind the couch, but she wasn’t there. I opened the front door and peeked outside, but she wasn’t there, either. Just the seventeen neighborhood cats sitting on the hood of the neighbor’s Subaru…all staring right at me. Spooky. That big Siamese in the middle obviously runs the show. That one’s a fucking creepy bastard. Those cats are going to sneak in the house one night and suck my breath away. I just know it.
She wasn’t in the kitchen making me lunch.
I should have called the police to report her missing right then and there, but it was lunch time, and those footlong weenies weren’t going to make themselves.
We had signed up for Peapod grocery delivery last spring after my sweetie forgot to get mayonnaise that one time.
Now we never have fewer than 10 full jars in the house at a time. It’s great because, in case you haven’t heard, I can’t leave the house when it’s under fifty degrees because the cold exacerbates my condition, and my honeybunch has deteriorated so much she can barely grip the bills to pull them from her G at the end of the night. She can’t hold a mayonnaise jar at all. Peapod saved our marriage.
So I made my regular lunch – two footlongs with Hellman’s creamiest, dreamiest mayo, a big bowl of applesauce, Cheez-It crackers and a nice tall glass of prune juice. It’s my “regular” lunch for good reason.
I went back to my office-slash-studio-slash-bedroom to record my podcast. It’s important to start the live show on time; I hate to disappoint my listener. I did 90 minutes. Most of it was recycled content going back to hack at enemies who stopped paying attention to me years ago when they figured out how powerless and irrelevant I was. I did 3 three minute live bits of raging at The Hog Up the Road, another minute talking about my excellent chauffeur who I barely know and rarely talk to but who always gives me the good bits of his lawsuits. And then there were the parody songs. I had to record those while babygirl was at work. I did that last night while she was on the –
Holy shit! My wife! I forgot all about my beloved wife! Where was she?
I went and looked at the couch. Still not there. Under the couch?
I hoped I wasn’t going to have to go outside to look for her.
She wasn’t in the other bedroom.
I was pushing slowly back into the living room when I shat myself again. Damn. At least I was close to the bathroom. I opened the door and heard the shower running. Why hadn’t I heard it before? The walls in this tin can were paper thin. I can hear my missus watching The Big Bang Theory reruns all day long. I felt my head and realized I was still wearing my ‘cans.
I can be an idiot sometimes. Well, most of the time. Okay, all the time! SHUT UP, MOTHER!!
Both dogs raced out of the bathroom and knocked me down. When I got up fifteen minutes later, my forehead was bleeding and I could smell Slovenian horseshit. What was that about? I called my Tiny Dancer but she didn’t answer. I couldn’t figure out how the dogs got shut up in the bathroom, but they were both dancing and pawing the door, barking like mad. I sound like that sometimes after the sheriff visits with paperwork. Someone was going to have to let them out. I was sure they could wait until the wife showed up. They’d yank me right down the steps if I tried.
Then I realized that the smell wasn’t horse shit but me. I’d forgotten I crapped myself and needed to clean up. Unless it was a hallucination. Before I started cleaning up, I went back to my computer and F5’ed several blogs to see what evil truths they were sharing about me. Then I complained to my sockpuppets on Twitter about that, left a couple of comments at The Bunny Blog, and decided to have a snack.
I remembered to take off my headphones this time. I could hear the shower running. Was it running before? Was I hallucinating? I got up to look and heard a crunching noise.
I forgot I had dumped in my drawers and it had dried there. Now I had to shower. And the dogs were barking.
I went to the bathroom. The shower was DEFINITELY running. I pulled the shower curtain aside and there she was.
She still had her denim jacket on. No shirt, she was still wearing the pasties and G-string she called her “work clothes.” Her makeup had run down her face, and she looked like a drowned raccoon. Her shoes were ruined.
“Sweetie, what’s wrong?” I said. I sat down on the toilet. I wanted to bend over and kiss her head, but I was afraid I’d tip into the tub and crush her.
“I-I-I’m huh-huh-uh-si-si-ick!” she stammered. She’d been crying and has hyperventilating. I reached out to turn off the water and she jabbed me in the arm with her heel. “No!”
“What’s wrong, honey?” I repeated. “Do you need a doctor?”
“I don’t know!!” she wailed.
“Well, can you get out? I had an accident and I need to clean up.”
She was up and out the door like a scalded cat, slowing down just long enough to grab a towel on the way out. She pulled the door shut behind her, hard.
This had not been a partial drop. This was a full payload. Diaper, done. Underwear, irreplaceable. Sweatpants, ruined. Even one of my cherished, personalized t-shirts with my personally designed logo on it went into the trash. I had to double-bag the lot for my beloved to take out to the garbage can. When I finished and put on a fresh adult diaper, I thought about my old S&M “Gimp” mask that I bought in Tijuana once on a business trip. (Well, I say “bought,” but believe you me, I earned that thing. Licked a dozen pairs of boots ‘til they shined before they let me go home with it.) I wondered where it was. Oh, well.
I came out of the bathroom and immediately realized that the dogs had not been let out and had had accidents of their own. I cleaned that up too, while my best girl sat on the couch, nearly catatonic. The empty bourbon bottle had made its appearance, too.
“Do you want to go to the E.R.?” I asked her.
“Only if you put some fucking clothes on first,” she said, without looking at me.
“Watch your mouth, woman.” I said. Then I got dressed. I put on a fresh pair of sweats and, since we had to go out, a XXXL polo from Berman’s Big and Tall. She hated when I wore the personalized t-shirts out of the house; I figured I could manage that at least, since I only went out about once a month. I was out of clean unders; it had been a bad week. I came back out to the living room.
“Can you drive, or should I call a cab?”
“You could have told me before I got dressed, they’d be here by now.”
She said nothing, just stared at the floor. She was still beet red. Right down to the roots of her mouse brown hair.
We sat on the couch together and waited for the taxi. I tried to hold her hand but she sat totally slack, like I wasn’t even there.
We rode to the hospital in silence.
Thank goodness it was a quiet night. I told them who I was and we only wound up waiting two hours to be seen. I don’t know why six people who came in after us got in before we did; they must have been accident victims or broken bones or something.
The doctor came in to see us. He examined my wife. I’ll spare you the details, heart rate, blood pressure, time, temperature, weather forecast, sports scores, headlines, stock market results, white blood cell count, and every other kind of thing that they did there. Once the initial exam was done, my heart of hearts whispered in the doctor’s ear. He bent and whispered back. Twice more they exchanged words I could not hear. Finally, the doctor looked at me.
“Sir, would you mind having a seat in the waiting room?”
“Because I have a private matter to discuss with your wife.”
“Anything you have to discuss with her can be discussed with me. I can’t blog or live-tweet what I don’t know. I’m a famous online journalist, you know.”
The doctor fixed me with what I’m sure he thought was an intimidating, authoritative stare. “Sir,” he said, “if your wife wants to share what we discuss with you later, that is certainly her right. For now, however, this conversation is between patient and doctor, and I respectfully request that you return to the waiting room. The next time I ask, hospital security will deposit you at the curb.”
I shuffled slowly back to the waiting room.
After an hour a nurse came to get me. She seemed upset with me for some reason, but I hadn’t done anything to her. She scowled at me.
“Sir, the doctor says you can come back now,” she said in a voice that sounded like the Angel of Death calling bingo numbers in Hell.
I shuffled my way back into the patient area. The doctor was waiting and pointed me to a small consult room. I wedged myself in and he followed. We sat.
“Your wife tells me you have insurance, but it’s somewhat limited. So I have decided to send her to a local veterinarian for a cat scan and a lab report.”
I started to object.
“Don’t worry. She’s a very good doctor. She lost her license for participating in an insurance fraud scheme with some activist deadbeat or something up in Bethesda. She’ll treat you right.”
“What’s wrong with my wife, doctor?”
He fixed me with a dark look. “I’m afraid it’s not good news. The tests from the vet will probably confirm this, but it appears to be a case of prodo ignominus.”
“What the hell is that?”
Your wife tells me you’re a whiz on the Internet. Why don’t you look it up?” His voice was cold. He sounded like he would benefit from a phone call to his bosses by an internet journalist with an axe to grind.
“Well, what’s the prognosis?”
My jaw dropped. “She’ll be sick for four months? Like this? Will she still be able to work? Who’s going to take care of me? Who’s going to take care of our doggies?”
“Perhaps you don’t understand. Let me clarify. Yes, she’s going to be sick for four months. Yes, it’s going to be exactly like this. Day long crying jags. No ability to function. Radical weight loss. She’ll stop eating. She’ll stop speaking. She may even move out, if she has someplace to go that’s away from you. And then, hopefully after she has found some measure of peace in your absence, she’s going to die.”
I opened my mouth to speak. There were no words.
My little darling was leaving.
The doctor waited.
“I…what…” I took out my iPad. I looked up “prodo ignominus.” WebMD called it “Death by humiliation due to terminal oversharing.”
“Keep reading. You’ll find that this is one of the few diagnoses on WebMD that doesn’t lead to cancer. They don’t have to scare you because it’s already terminal.
“But…I have contacts. I can get her into clinical trials and studies. I still have friends that I can talk to fed to fed!” I shouted.
“I’m afraid not. This is a very new, very rare disease, and only appears under very rare circumstances. As such it gets very little attention from the medical community. Pending the final test results, your wife will be only the third documented case of prodo ignominus in the world.”
“What’s the cause?”
“It appears to be internal. The emotional roller coaster of years of personal primary and secondary embarrassment at the hands of a loved one, usually online, generates wear and tear on the psyche. The body reacts as anyone would, with shame, embarrassment, despair. But if the patient isn’t in a supportive relationship situation where they can communicate their discomfort, or if they can but the person responsible for the oversharing and humiliation can’t be persuaded to change their behavior, then the body reacts more forcefully.
“A person can’t go around mortally ashamed for days and weeks on end. They need time to recover. You have not been there for your wife. You are the cause of this. It’s your blogs, your Twitter, your insistence on sharing every mortifying detail of her life and yours on your podcasts that –“
“OHMIGOD!!” I looked at my iPad. It was twenty minutes past three. “I’M LATE FOR MY PODCAST!! I HAVE TO GO!! Tell my wife I’ll be back later this evening after I’m done with my show. Don’t forget to tune in on Spreaker!”