One Flu Over The Piutes

by Calendar Hacksaw

Well, the holidays came and went, then came the flu, and unlike Christmas and New Year's it didn't "went," but instead just loitered around for weeks on end like a Texas in-law, mooching off one family member or another until all the beer was gone and the dog was pregnant again.

I lingered in bed, day-in and day-out, throwing back shots of Nyquil (tm) cut with Red Wolf (tm) and Red Man (tm) until finally I could stand it no more. My nightmares had become daymares, so it was clear that ol' Calendar's mind had taken a much overdue vacation, leaving my pained and grossly disfigured body to fight it out on its own. I found myself spending considerable time pondering industrial/recreational uses for phlegm.

At first, I didn't think I had the flu; I thought I was having a heart attack. But after several long hours of intense hypochondria and self-diagnosis, I concluded that fever, sore muscles, stiff joints and diarrhea aren't normally associated with coronary failure. So it must be incurable cancer, I thought.

But a subsequent roll-call on my lungs, pancreas, liver, throat, stomach, colon, and what's left of my brain revealed none of the major players to be missing, although the liver did submit a list of grievances, and old Mr. Colon wisely asked me to check back again sometime when he wasn't so dang busy. Something told me that wouldn't be any time soon.

I thought medical intervention might be in order, so I tried to make an appointment with Dr. Castiglione. My HMO lets me choose a doctor from among those listed in a little blue book, which tells something about each of the physicians. From that, I learned that Dr. Castiglione attended U.S.C. and enjoys golf. In spite of those impeccably boring credentials, I chose him because his resume' read about the same as O.J.'s.

Now, shakin' worse than the President on "Deposition Day," I tried to get an appointment with "Dr. C," although we had never met. It seems that every time I need medical attention, it's rather immediate, and ol' Sawbones is booked solid. In order to see him--or be seen by him--one must be well enough to wait for many months. But I was told Dr. Phampraphousouing would see me right away.

So I motored on over to the clinic, where I was weighed and measured by a nurse-like person, even though I hadn't mentioned anything about losing any height. Then Dr. Phampraphousouing came in--all 4'1" of her-- and said, "Call me 'Pham.'" So I did. I could tell she was a lot smarter than me because she didn't have a pack of Camel (tm) unfiltereds sticking out of her pocket, and didn't have a big lump of junk stuck between her cheek and gum.

Well, Pham and I did our little 'doctor-patient' dance for awhile, during which time we shared our common experiences in the home-brewing of beer. Hers involved a lot of rice and a couple of beasts of burden, while mine involved pouring twenty quart bottles of Bud (tm) into a five-gallon plastic paint bucket and then telling everyone I made it myself.

Finally, I got a prescription for some antibiotics and Kahlua (tm) and got the hell out of there.

Feeling semi-recovered, I was highballing my way along Bear Mountain Road, just past the dead coyote hangin' on the barbed wire fence, when my cell phone rang.

"Hacksaw here."

"Bet you don't know who this is."

"Herb Benham?"

"Nope. It's your colon. Remember me? You promised to check back."


"Well, I've got a little surprise for you, Cal. Ready? Three! Two!! One!!! BOOM!!!!!


Well, from this experience, ol' Calendar learned three things:

  1. Any doctor who will see you only when you're well is just as worthless as an IOU at the General Store. Al can attest to that.
  2. If you're sick and have no medical insurance, it's a good idea to get yourself arrested. The county jail has a pretty good hospital ward, and they have more incentive for keeping you alive than a regular hospital does.
  3. There's a big difference between an outhouse and a highway call box (just ask any CHP motor officer with a moustache). The outhouse is warmer, and doesn't smell as bad.

In his autobiography "Way Yonder Pikee," my late Uncle Arthur made this observation about the Great Flu Epidemic of 80 years ago:

"About the first of September, 1918, the influenza hit us,, Mom, Jim, Otis and I. Otis had a bad time of it, high fever, out of his head, talked crazy. Mom worried, tried to stay up, though she wasn't able. My brother-in-law and the man I farmed with had no fear of the flu and they came to the house every day to check on us, and neither of them took the flu. The people that were afraid to come near us all caught the flu. Since that time I have not been afraid to offer my help."

Never afraid to offer help. That simple thought reminds me of so many people I've met in Walker Basin, and I don't think that will ever change. Thank you for being who you are.

Calendar Hacksaw's e-mail addresses are and and he'd love to hear from you. In spite of all the rhetoric, he almost lost two dear friends to pneumonia this year, Miguel and Nadine. You might have experienced something similar. So what say we all get our flu shots next year, and vow to write some humorous columns instead? It's a deal

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