I'm due for a colonoscopy, which makes me think of wonton soup and presidential politics.
Give me a minute and I'll try to explain.
A little more than eight years ago my doctor informed me it was time. I knew what he was talking about before he said the word.
The thing with colon cancer, he explained, is that if you discover the signs early, it's no big deal, if you don't, it's a death sentence.
That was enough for me.
But just the thought of it made me cringe.
I'm not even all that comfortable with my dental hygienist sticking her fingers in my mouth.
Anyone who's gone through this procedure, however, will tell you it's nothing to be concerned about.
And I agree.
That's mainly because you don't remember it.
The drug that accomplishes this let's you know why people become addicts.
Since you must fast before the procedure, they serve you breakfast right after it. My wife said she never saw a happier look on my face than when I dove into that banana, to which I responded, Banana?
That's how good this drug is.
I had no recollection of eating a banana, let alone of a doctor snooping around inside of me.
Apparently while eating the banana I kept insisting they had not yet done the procedure.
I repeat, good drug.
So, I have no apprehension about another colonoscopy.
The fasting is another story.
I hear these days they have you fast for 24 hours. Believe it or not, that's a relief.
I had to fast for two full days last time, 48 hours of nothing but clear fluids and, oh yes, a couple of bottles of citrate of magnesium, which does what you think it does.
When the medical people say they want you clean they mean it.
That's where the wonton soup comes in.
A colleague at the college and a close friend for some 25 years had said weeks earlier that he wanted to take me out to lunch as soon as the spring semester ended.
He was about 19 or 20 when we first met, he as a college intern at this newspaper, and I as managing editor. I guess I'm close to 15 years older than he and through the years I apparently had stabbed the check every time we got together over food or drinks.
I hadn't noticed but he had.
And he insisted it was time to turn the tables.
The problem was working out a time.
Our schedules were so packed it seemed nearly impossible to get together.
That's why when we finally found a suitable date, one afternoon right after exam week, I insisted we keep it … even though it turned out to be on one of the aforementioned two days.
But you won't be able to eat anything, he stressed with genuine concern.
I'll find something, I countered. Besides, if we don't do this now, God knows when we will. And it's not about eating food as much as it is about having a relaxing conversation.
We went to a Chinese buffet, his favorite, and while he filled his plate – the first of several times, I might add – I scouted around for an item I could handle.
I eyed up the Jello squares for a good 30 seconds before rejecting them on their redness and finally settled on a cup of wonton soup … with, of course, no wontons.
Oh, and I did drink some hot tea.
At the register, my friend paid the flat rate for the buffet he consumed and I told the young lady all I had was wonton soup with no wontons.
I spared her the details.
Puzzled, she went in search of the manager and came back and told my friend the charge for me would be 19 cents.
It's been eight years and I will not let him live down the fact that the one time lunch was on him, it cost him all of 19 cents.
It was a presidential election year and the primaries had just ended. Then, as now, there was much talk from every candidate about all the marvelous things they were going to do for the middle class.
All I kept thinking, though, was that in my experience, any time a politician talked about helping the middle class, the result turned out to be a lot like a 19-cent bowl of wonton soup with no wontons.
Or a colonoscopy.