Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 20, 2013

Semi-invalid and daytime TV

Dan Graves
Greensburg Daily News

Greensburg — Sitting in a corner curled into the fetal position, my thumb in my mouth, making soft mewling sounds...

Outside, a constant day’s long gray overcast occasionally spits out combinations of snow and cold rain. Gusts of bitter wind moan against the windows like the song of lost souls. Sitting on the floor in front of me is a tray with the remnants of a meal of porridge and stale potato bread left there the previous evening by my faithful servant, Judy, my wife. Perhaps I’m hallucinating, but I can hear the sounds of rats scurrying through the wall behind me.

What brought me to this dismal state? A few weeks ago, I forgot my age and attempted a physical act best suited for a 20-year-old. Now, with my right arm snuggled in a sling and orders not to use said arm for anything more than imitating the letter “L,” I’m reduced to depending on various forms of entertainment to pass the dull, waning days of winter.

The first order of business was to attempt to train the left arm to assume at least some of the duties of the other. I soon learned why it is so difficult to get some dogs to roll over and sit up. These training sessions brought to mind those past days when our dogs knew only two things: raising new crops of fleas and dinner time. Anything else was well beyond their intelligence and levels of desire. As far as they were concerned, everything in life was free and required no exertion on their behalf. If it weren’t for the fact that I would have a permanent list to port I’d have this useless member removed and use it as a door stop.

In the meantime, it has to serve certain basic functions which it is beginning to do, at least on a kindergarten level; however, being housebound and unable to even venture outside for any menial chore except filling the bird feeder has left me with no choice but to find ways to pass these long days of the late winter doldrums.

One word of caution: Should you find yourself in similar straits, don’t buy a stack of those cheap crossword puzzle books at the local dollar store.

The first thing you’ll have to do is train the useless arm to at least print legibly. On the average this will take at least a week of intensive work to reach a level approximately equivalent to a first grader, if you’re lucky. Secondly, trying to hold the books open and simultaneously filling a line with illegible printing is as much a challenge as trying to paddle a canoe with one hand. If you depend on your worldly knowledge of such things as knowing the name of Bill Clinton’s house cat or the name of an obscure river in southern Africa, then crossword puzzles may be just right for you. As for me, I might as well indulge in working on the equations that determine the effect of velocity on mass. For example, the following clues:

Clue: - “Sandwich initials.”

Answer; - I didn’t know sandwiches had proper names.

Clue: - “Possessive contraction.”

Answer: - Uh, duh, what’s a possessive contraction? Perhaps a bank repossessing your new car when you miss a payment?

Failure to understand further clues such as “Fender dimples,” “Miss Piggy’s pronoun” and “Christmas” in French put me back in the corner in a fetal position.

Left with no options since I failed Crossword Puzzles 101, I turned to the only recourse left: Daytime TV.

A word of warning now to those of you who have full-time jobs or other daytime vocations: Don’t give them up for any reason. If you are planning to retire any time soon, begin now to look for anything to occupy your daytime hours, because if you have to depend on daytime TV for entertainment, you’ll soon either be wearing a straight jacket or like me, sitting in a corner sucking on your thumb.

A normal day in our house starts with two people; a Kelly and a Mike discussing matters of which I have no knowledge or interest, followed by Hoda and Kathy who pick up where the previous two left off.

Then comes a program called The View (I think) where a panel of ladies all talk at the same time — which is a relief, because not being able to understand what they are discussing, I’m not forced to take sides on the issue, whatever it is.

This leads to the news at noon and I’m back in the corner, trembling in fear. Meanwhile, commercial breaks are comprised of law firms trying to convince us to retain their services to bring justice to the outlaw insurance rascals and medical products that spend 15 seconds explaining the benefits of their product and 45 seconds warning of the potential consequences to our health if we use them. These last advertisers caution us to talk to our doctors before using their product, no doubt to dodge the possible legal action that might follow our demise from treating an ingrown toenail, then expiring from liver failure.

By mid-afternoon of a day of such fine entertainment, I’m ready to declare myself well of all ailments and resume a regular schedule of braving the outdoor weather, no matter the consequences.

Unfortunately, I tried that last week and now have a miserable cold to show for it; however, I’m afraid to take any remedy for it due to the number of potential deadly side effects.

On the other hand, maybe I should. And if I barely survive I’ll follow the advice of my favorite TV legal advisor when he says, “Have you been a victim of the big drug companies? You’d better call K----/---! Right now!”

Gosh, ain’t free enterprise just wonderful?