Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Doctor’s Orders

   There are many reasons for a writer to write. 
   I write because I enjoy entertaining people and as a way to deal with the world around me. To try to understand and have a laugh at things that to me are incomprehensible and somewhat sad. Of course, it might be said that cooping myself up in a room for days at a time writing is not dealing with the world at all, as my wife often suggests, but is it any different than practicing yoga or working in the garden or playing golf or the millions of other things people do to deal with, or escape from, life? 
   Anyway, whatever the reason, a writer’s first responsibility is to write!
   The reason I’m writing this particular blog today is because I’m under orders, after a stay in hospital, from my doctor. 
   Don’t worry though, I’m okay now. Except for these damned doctor’s orders. 
   Yes, doctor’s orders. He got a court order, him and his lawyers, with a lien on my house and a garnish on my income, demanding that I pay my overdue hospital bills. There’s a restraining order in there too, somewhere. And let’s not forget alphabetical order and the Franciscan Order, I think he’s got them lined up against me also. 
   But the joke’s on him. Ha! Ha! 
   You see, being a writer, I don’t have any income.
   He wasn’t much of a doctor, as it turned out. 
   I could go on and on, listing his defects and having fun with that (fact is, I’ve spent the entire morning doing so with much hilarity on my part, but alas, to little purpose, they being so mean-spirited as to be completely unusable here) but let us just agree to say that his idea of overdue, and mine, are two very different things. 
   I have every intention of attending to his bill, by the way, but I have a strict rule of paying my bills in the order they arrive. It’s only fair. Dr. X (my publisher forbids my using his real name) is way down on the who-gets-paid-when list, and if he keeps on having these ‘agencies’ calling me, demanding money and threatening me in the middle of the night, he’s going to drop further down the list. Or maybe I’ll take him off it entirely. 
   That’ll show him! 
   I don’t know why I should even be paying him anything. After all, it wasn’t me that left his gold Rolex wristwatch inside the patient at the hospital in Orlando, next to the pancreas.
   I mean the Rolex watch was next to the pancreas, by the way. 
   Not the hospital. 
   That’s on Lakemont Ave. 
   May I take a moment and encourage the reader to admire my deft use of product placement in that last group of paragraphs? Smooth, huh? Its a new thing were trying. Please watch (no pun intended) for further subtle placements like this, dotted throughout my blogs. 
   My publisher suggested it when she read my latest manuscript. 
   She insisted, really.
   “It’s good business,” she said. “You need the money, don’t you?”
   “Yeah, sure. But what about my art?” I whined. “Won’t people think I’m selling out?” I always end up whining when I’m in her office. 
   Whining, or crying. 
   “Remember my rule?” she said sweetly but somehow threateningly. “People will think what I tell them to think!”
   “Yes, ma’am.” I also become timid and meek in her office. I think it’s something they put in the coffee, because the coffee is truly horrible. Or pump in with the air conditioning in the freezing-cold reception area, where she always keeps me waiting before she sees me.
   “So, you want to be an artist, do you?” she asked me.  
   “Yes, ma’am.”
   “You’re such a hotshot writer, work in some goddamned Ferraris then!”
   She shook my manuscript in my face. Three year’s work, flapping angrily at the end of her arm. 
   “I have to stay true to my art, don’t I?” I asked.
   “Art, schmart! What about GM, the NFL or the Food Network? How about some freakin’ Nike, Apple or American Express?”
   “Okay, ma’am, if I can.”
   “And would it kill you to mention the new Honda? My daughter’s sixteenth birthday is coming up!” 
   “Yes, ma’am.”
   She glared at me.  
   “I mean no, ma’am.”
   I didn’t know what I meant. Confused and flustered, I looked up at the ceiling, then down into the half-empty coffee cup in my hands. It’s something they pump in with the air conditioning, I decided. The coffee can’t taste this bad and be doctored. That would be too obvious and they’re much too smart for that.
   But if that's the case, why wasn't she affected?
   Was she immune? Or taking an antidote? Or, and this is my favorite, was she some sort of alien? 
   “Here!” She tossed my MS into my lap. Three year’s work, crushing my testicles. “There’d better be some goddamned Ferraris in there next time my freakin’ assistant reads this!”
   “Yes, ma’am.”
   “Anything else on your mind?” she asked.
   I shook my head no.
   “Then hadn’t you better be getting back to work?”
   "Yes. ma'am." 
   With the briefest of adieus, I was dismissed.
   I was so happy to be out of there, I stopped for tree martoonis on the play to the scubway station where, feeling as flight as a leather and possessed by love for my mellow fan, I handed an incredulous panhandler a twenty-dollar-bill for good luck!
   “Hey!” he said. “That’s a twenty, Mack! You crazy or something?” 
   “Take it, my friend!” I told him. “Consider this an offering to the gods.”
   “Huh?” he asked.
   “It went much better with my publisher than usual today!”

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