The ideal perscription: A dose of silliness

This Side Up


If only silliness could be prescribed, and just imagine how it might work.

After listening to a description of aches and pains and a list of tribulations, the doc, with an air of concern and genuine interest, takes out a pad and starts scribbling.

“Now,” she says seriously, as if about to hand you a loaded handgun, “only take this at dinner, when everyone is seated at the table.”

You look at the paper she handed you, hoping it says what you think.

“Yes, yes, yes,” you find yourself saying. Doc has come through again. You feel relief simply holding the paper. You fold it carefully and slip it in your wallet. It makes no difference the prescription isn’t covered by any insurer or even mentioned in the debate over the Affordable Health Care Act.

The important thing is, you have it. The doctor flashes a telling smile. You know she knows you’re already feeling better. What she doesn’t know is how many others will benefit from her diagnosis and remedy, but you’ll tell her the next time.

At Oxnard Pharmacy, Dave Feeney grins when you hand him the ’script. He knows exactly where to go, returning with a spray can, good for a single dose of silliness.

“There’s no refill on this,” he cautions, “so be sure to follow the doc’s instructions.”

That night, in the middle of the meal, with everyone around the table, you reach into your pocket, pull out the can and hold it up for everyone to see. There are smiles of expectation.

“How did you score that?” your wife asks with admiration. “I’ve got to meet your doctor.”

The can gets handed around and, in moments, everyone is laughing uncontrollably. Tears roll down their cheeks. Some are doubled over, incapable of finishing dinner.

Well, there was no can handed around the table Saturday night. But silliness did reign, and it was what the doc should have ordered for all of us that particular day.

My father wasn’t his usual self. He had had a sleepless night, which meant Marge had been up, too. He was uncomfortable with pains in his back and side. She was tired from anxiety and worrying over what she could do.

After a late breakfast and a visit from some friends, I joined my father on the couch in front of the television. It wasn’t on, but he’s comfortable there, where he often closes his eyes when he’s not sleeping. Meanwhile, Marge had the crock-pot ready to go. She planned a pot roast for dinner.

“What are you going to be doing today,” he inquired. I told him I thought it was time to check on the antifreeze in the car he bought in 1964.

“Good idea,” he said approvingly. “They’ll know what to do.” The “they” is Dale at the village garage. The car hadn’t been started since my last visit to upstate New York. I pumped the accelerator vigorously, turned the key and she came to life.

Carol followed me up to the garage where I found Dale seated on a milk crate at the front end of a jacked-up van. He was chatting with a customer and fitting a shiny disc brake.

I told him I brought the car.

“Saw ya,” he answered.

He estimated it was 10 years since the antifreeze had been changed. We agreed it was time.

Carol and I ran errands in nearby Richfield Springs and, after lunch, spent the afternoon back at the house, talking and enjoying a fire in the living room. It wasn’t cold, but it was raining and the leaves were falling. Both Marge and my father catnapped.

By 6:30, Carol had made a cake and the pot roast was ready. With the assistance of Rose, who comes in to help out, my father took small steps as he navigated his way to the dining room. He wanted to know why we weren’t eating in the kitchen.

“Just because it would be nice,” I offered. “Something different.”

He accepted that.

Marge had the meat on a platter and a ladle in the pot for its potatoes, carrots, mushrooms and onions. There was a side dish of asparagus. Candles were lit. Carol toasted the cook and we all began to eat. There was a special feel to the evening.

That’s when my father administered the silly medication.

I looked across at him. He was stabbing the plate with his fork.

“I’m having trouble seeing,” he said.

Rose guided his hand over the food. He raised the fork to his mouth.

“What’s that? It’s tasteless,” he said.

“It’s a carrot,” Rose said.

I glanced at Marge. She had a straight face. Carol didn’t say anything.

My father kept on asking and Rose kept telling him what he was eating: Potato … mushroom … onion; every bite, I looked up and he was chewing and chewing. We were all chewing and chewing.

Finally, he stopped and announced, “That’s rubber.”

I forget who started laughing but it was contagious. Only my father retained his composure.

“Clever,” he announced. “You don’t need meat when you have rubber.”

That did it. None of us could eat another bite. It was an overdose of silliness.

I spotted my father’s brief smile. He knew what he was doing. His was just what we needed. The heaviness of the day was gone.


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