“I’m afraid, Mr. Evenkeel, I have both good and grim news for you,” Doctor Smith said softly to his patient.
Evenkeel, who had been an eternal (albeit annoying) optimist most of his life, swallowed, then blinked in disbelief.
The kindly doctor interlaced his fingers, rechecked his medical charts and made a clucking noise. “I’ll get right to the point, Mr. Evenkeel, you’re going to die. You have weeks, perhaps only hours. It’s time to set your affairs in order.”
Evenkeel was astonished. “I don’t understand. What disease do I have?”
“It’s not just one thing. It’s dozens,” said the MD. “If you would have just taken better care of yourself, you could have lived another thirty or forty years. You made an endless series of tragic choices.”
“But I’ve been so careful,” said Evenkeel. “Ten years ago I even stopped eating fat and became a vegetarian.”
“At that time,” lamented the MD, “there might have been a chance for you to live at least a normal life span, however, by avoiding gooey animal fats, you have dug your own grave.”
“What? All the authorities said low fat was the answer to a healthy heart.” Evenkeel took out a handkerchief and wiped away a bead of perspiration.
“We thought,” said Dr. Smith, “that low fats were the key to longevity but we now know, that’s nonsense.
“The Harvard Medical School just announced that men who eat buckets of fat escape early death. Gobs of saturated fats prevent strokes. It’s all in this month’s Journal of the American Medical Association.”
“And because I forced myself to eat broccoli and raw cabbage for the last decade means I’m going to get a stroke?” asked Evenkeel.
“Oh, we can’t blame one culprit,” said Dr. Smith. “There were so many other things you did that contributed to your impending death. For example, exercise.”
“It was wrong for me to run five miles a day after work?”
The doctor smiled. “I don’t want to make a pun out of it, but in two words, the answer is ‘dead wrong.’”
“By galloping through the city streets you forced thousands of tons of polluted air into your system. Human beings are not capable of getting rid of so much pollution. You’re filled with toxins.”
“But I don’t even drink alcohol,” said Evenkeel.
“A pity,” said the MD. “ Medical science presently advocates an ounce or two of liquor a day to prolong your life. Now, I’m sad to say, it’s too late for you. “
Dr. Smith poured himself a brimming tumbler of Irish Whiskey and knocked it back. “I’d ask you to join me but it would just be a waste of fine medicine.”
“The vitamins I took, surely they must have helped,” said Evenkeel.
“No, it turns out that most of them did you more harm than good. A lot of them were simply slow-acting poisons. Many were imported from China where there are no regulations. Your biggest mistake was washing down all those vitamins with bottled water.”
“How could pure bottled water hurt me?” asked Evenkeel, biting his knuckle.
“Pure water is good for you. Almost as good as vodka or whiskey,” said the doctor. “But the only way to get pure water is out of your tap. Most bottled water wouldn’t pass the city health inspector’s tests. Don’t you remember how dangerous Perrier turned out to be? It had French solvents in it that could melt your brain.”
“I went to a health club almost every day,” wailed Evenkeel.
“It was in the so-called health clubs you probably picked up the dozen deadly flu strains you’re carrying.
“Think of it, man, locking yourself in a roomful of sweating and mostly naked people, all inhaling each others’ germs. It’s a miracle you’ve lived this long.”
“I went to such lengths to avoid disease. Why I even stopped having sex,” said Evenkeel. “I was terrified of AIDS.”
“Ha. Ha. The joke’s on you,” said Dr. Smith. “According to recent research, it’s almost impossible to contract AIDS by having normal sex with someone of the opposite gender who is not in a high-risk group.”
“What am I to do?” asked Evenkeel. He pounded his head against the wall.
“Make sure your last will and testament is in order,” said Dr. Smith. “And you have my deepest condolences. I’ll miss you.”
“You spoke of some good news,” whispered Evenkeel, with faint hope.
“My brother in this very building is a lawyer. He’s got a special on wills. I’d shake hands with you but it’s just too risky. Good-bye, Mr. Evenkeel.”