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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

Fat Monday

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While most of the free world gorges on paczki and other treats Tuesday, I'll be the one downing my daily gallon of coffee and chasing it down with a tasty cup of broth.

I'll spare you the details about how I'll be spending my Tuesday night.   If you have a working knowledge of "generlac" and "Suprep", you are nodding your head knowingly and saying a silent "been there, done that" to yourself.

I'll be off the air Wednesday, undergoing one of those uniquely over-50 procedures that grudgingly has to be done if one is be medically proactive.   It's inconvenient and unpleasant but it's part of being a responsible adult.     The bottom line: it's not fun, but it has to be done.

Is there really any such thing as a "routine" checkup as you grow older?   A trip to the doctor in your 20's and 30's is expected to award you with the anticipated "clean bill of health" each year.   Anything less was, well, a shock or at least a wake-up call about dangerous life-habits you'd acquired in your youth that were now taking a middle-aged toll.   

Once into fifty-dom, visits to the doctor take on whole new meanings.   No annual exam is "routine": one that ends with no bad news is celebrated and bragged about.   Bad news?  Disappointing to be sure, but not a complete surprise in many cases.   And someone else's health issues?   That's the topic du jour when a lot of people my age gather.

I remember being a kid and serving as bartender when the relatives would gather for their weekly card games.   I'd keep Kingsbury (or rhine wine and seltzer) flowing while the conversation flowed from which friend had cancer to how a mutual acquaintance was coping with some freshly diagnosed malady to how someone who knew someone had only so long to live.  I vividly remember one story about someone who'd been "opened up" in surgery, only to be "closed up" again and being told that they were ravaged with inoperable tumors that would soon claim the poor victim's life. How freaking depressing, I'd think to myself.   Don't they have something else to talk about?  

Hey, how 'bout them Packers?

Funny how we emulate our moms and dads.  Now that I'm well past that 50 line, I find health most often being the opening topic when my buds gather over a few cold ones.  This buddy isn't doing so good, someone says.  Hey, did you hear about so-and-so, another guy announces.  And too often for someone our age, we've found ourselves gathering not at the corner bar but at a funeral home or church.

The Packers may or may not come up.

"Routine" is no longer taken for granted.  No news at the doctor's office is truly great news, an assurance that you're doing fine at a time in life when that's not always the case.   That doesn't mean the unthinkable CAN'T happen but you can drive yourself nuts worrying about those kinds of things.   Hell, that willow limb might snap the next time I'm under the tree cutting the grass this spring--all the more reason to have as much fun as you can each day.   Tomorrow isn't guaranteed.

Nor is Fat Tuesday.  I assume we'll all make it there, as the paczki pour in and a tradition is celebrated.   Enjoy yours, and have an extra one (no prunes though) for me.   I'll be pushing my observance up a day, something I think I'll call "Fat Monday".   It might involve a trip to Benji's for my usual (turkey pastrami Reuben w/matzo ball soup).   Maybe an Ann's Pizza for desert.  Perhaps a snack--doesn't a rack of Saz's ribs sound good about now?A little indulgence before what I hope is another "routine" bit of preventative maintenance Tuesday and Wednesday.

See you on the other side.



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