My heaven post is going to be the first in a series called “Tulane Chris Does Death.” I’ve been thinking about death a lot recently. I flew at the beginning of November, and my left ear never popped back after the plane, and it annoyed me enough that I did something completely out of character: I went to the doctor. I hate going to the doctor. Either they find something wrong and I’m sick, or they don’t and I’ve wasted an afternoon. I especially hate going to a new doctor because I have to give a family medical history, and my genetic heritage is unenviable. I’m lucky I grew bones.
“Any illnesses in your immediate family?”
“High blood pressure, kidney stones, Alzheimer’s, costochondritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, diabetes, stroke, heart attack, migraine, manic depression, borderline personality disorder, ADHD, premature dementia, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, blindness, psychosis, irritable bowel syndrome… a lot of female stuff I probably don’t have to worry about… that’s probably it. Jury’s still out on lupus. Oh, and my mother’s allergic to every single domestic animal except cows.” (Author’s note: Yes, really.) We can see color and our blood clots, but otherwise we’re rapidly turning into one of those European royal families that got so overbred they started producing kings called “the Mad,” “the Simple,” “the Unready” and “the Bewitched.” I lucked out by only getting ADHD and costochondritis, which is a painful but not dangerous inflammation of the chest cartilage, so if I were king all the histories would start “Christopher the Inattentive rubbed his chest and winced.”
Anyway, I didn’t go to the doctor because my chest hurt and I couldn’t pay attention. I’m used to that. I went because of my damn ear. Instead of completely ignoring the rest of my body like I wanted her to, she started looking in things and measuring things, and apparently I have something called “high blood pressure.” I blame American politics; our immigrant neighbors have heard me shout at the newspaper so much that they think every single politician’s name is pronounced “Oh-God-that-jackass,” and that the two major political parties are the Shitheads and the Shitforbrains. I’m supposed to take some expensive medicines called “exercise” and “not eating so much salt.”
Fuck that noise. I didn’t tell the doctor this, but I don’t want to live a terribly long time. Eddie Murphy keeps making movies, and I just am going to get Alzheimer’s. That is a fact. I carry that gene. Men in my family check out on their seventy-ninth birthdays. On November 25, 2063, I will start making even less sense than I do now, so if you want help with a crossword puzzle ask me before then. Now, I could stop eating salt and watching Murder, She Wrote for exercise and have my body live to be ninety-six, or I could keep pouring butterscotch into my bourbon and have my body and mind quit on the same day. The doctor thinks I should stop doing things I like so I can spend my last decade in a facility where occupational therapists named Tillie try to remind me how to do the Hokey Pokey. I think she should fix my ear. Her warnings have made me think about my eventual end, though, so check this space for the next episode of “Tulane Chris Does Death.”
P.S. Grammar check wants me to change “Fuck that noise” to either “Fuck that noises” or “Fuck those noise.”