Honolulu Lite

by Charles Memminger

Wednesday, November 11, 1998

This time of year
is gut-wrenching

STOP the year, I wanna get off. I can't stand it. Time is speeding up again. Halloween zipped past at light speed. Thanksgiving is hull-up in the distance and running out her guns. The main masts of Christmas are visible on the horizon. The holidays are ranging up and we are defenseless to stop them.

That means the New Year is here, man. It's here. The '99s already are filling the car lots. The old year is gone and the only thing I accomplished was to upgrade to Windows 98 and give myself a hernia by coughing, which feels surprisingly similar, pain-wise.

Why does time condense this time of year? Loyal readers will recall the Honolulu Lite Theory of Weather Relativity and Time Condensation, which states, basically, that there's more rain in the winter and so the days get wet and shrink.

But knowing that doesn't help. I missed October. Missed it. The entire month. Completely. I didn't even get the October calendar up on my cork board. It was Labor Day, then Rosh Hashana and then, bam! Election Day! Welcome to November. What happened to October?

Let's all take a break and do October again. This time with feeling.

How do you give yourself a hernia by coughing? I mean, what kind of sorry shape do you have to be in to rip a stomach muscle while coughing in the shower? I was lathering up, thinking about how silly it is for an old coot like John Glenn to attempt to go back into space when all of a sudden I broke out coughing.

It seemed to be a fairly routine coughing jag. Cough, cough, cough, pop! Argh! It was like I'd taken a bullet in the upper left side of my gut, just below the rib cage. There is a God and he wanted to teach me a lesson. It's as if God said, "You wanna make fun of John Glenn going into space? He's 77 and I'm sending him into space. And you, fat boy, I'm giving you a coughing hernia. Bam! How do you like those apples?"

I didn't like those apples at all. It wasn't a full-on hernia, actually. The guts didn't pop out through the muscles. The muscles just sort of tore a bit. The cool thing about this kind of injury, my doctor told me, is that every time you cough, you RE-INJURE yourself! Fabulous! And the only thing you can do to protect yourself is to try to hold your side with with both hands when you cough and hope you don't bust another gut. What a fun injury. And the doctor, obviously an agent of God and in on "The Lesson," told me just before I left his office with a bottle full of "pain pills" that couldn't even stun a hamster, "Oh, yeah, and whatever you do, don't sneeze."

Don't sneeze? Don't sneeze? Why would I sneeze? And then, I became consumed with the fear of sneezing. The world suddenly was rife with sneeze-producing elements. And it wasn't long before I felt one coming on. A biggie. I felt the nose tickle, the sneeze ignition switch.

I prayed, no, no, no, but felt myself sucking in air. No, God. Please. I love John Glenn. Sucking, sucking. God Bless John Glenn! A true American hero! Please God, no sneeze. I grabbed my side with all my strength and braced for the explosion. Here it comes. Here it comes. My God, why hast thou forsaken ... BLOOOOOOIE! ARGHHHHH! (Writer's note: Unfortunately, a mere succession of capital letters cannot fully capture the essence of that experience.)

I would like to state here that we do not fully appreciate the elderly of this country and their vast accomplishments. I cried when John Glenn landed. He's a great man. And it was a great year for him. I believe I will send him a Christmas card. And I want to wish all the rest of our senior citizens a happy, cough-free New Year. Now, before it's too late.

Charles Memminger, winner of
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
awards in 1994 and 1992, writes "Honolulu Lite"
Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
Write to him at the Honolulu Star-Bulletin,
P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, 96802

or send E-mail to charley@nomayo.com or

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