High Anxiety

Aug. 5 - The DMB and I haven't been metabolizing all this stress very well. We spent most of Sunday night, for example, talking each other down from anxiety attacks. Thanks to the synthetic morphine I've been given for my gout, however, and the Go'nat ("Good Night") pills the DMB got herself at the apotek this morning, things are starting to look up. Better living through chemistry.

I can already look back and laugh at one of the episodes we survived in spite of ourselves the other night.

First, I'm deathly allergic to aspirin. At least, I was when I was 17 and I haven't been in any particular hurry to test the persistence of that allergy. (Best case scenario: rapid relief from aches and pains. Worst case scenario: instant death. You do the math.)

At the emergency room on Sunday, the doctor urged me to take the Danish equivalent of Ibuprofen. It was my understanding that people with aspirin allergies weren't supposed to take Ibuprofen, and I said as much.

"You'll be okay," he said.

"No thanks," I said. "Aspirin kills me."

"No no," he explained. "This isn't aspirin."

"I know, but they say you shouldn't take Ibuprofen if you're allergic to aspirin."

"Yes, but I'm a doctor, I understand, and please believe me, you'll be fine. I promise."

He was so sincere I gave in. (What the hell... I was already in the emergency room. Surely they could respond to an allergic reaction before it cost me my life.)

Just to be safe, I hung around an extra ten minutes after being discharged. Sure enough, no reaction. The Ibuprofen combined with the synthetic morphine and the codeine had me feeling pretty good. The DMB and I went home.

Just before going to bed that night it was time to take another dose of pills. I only had one "take-away" pain-killer left, and the only Ibuprofen we had was some the DMB had brought along from the states.

"It's the same as what he gave you at the hospital," she said.

"Mm," I said. I tried to remember whether or not I had a life insurance policy, and whether or not I'd named her as my beneficiary.

She logged onto WebMD and looked up the ingredients of the Danish and American Ibuprofens, and they were identical except for a few letters at the end of the American product's name (and they weren't RIP). So I took my painkiller and the American Ibuprofen and got into bed.

I lay there monitoring myself in the dark, terrified that I'd feel an allergic reaction begin at any moment. And sure enough, after about ten minutes I felt it coming: a tingling in my fingers, a numbness in my calves, a metallic taste on the tip of my tongue... I leaped out of bed, turned on my light, and rushed into the hall. The DMB didn't budge.

I was no sooner out of the bedroom, however, than I realized I wasn't having an allergic reaction: I'd drifted half way to sleep in an awkward position and my hands and right calf had fallen asleep. As for the metallic taste... who knows.

I wasn't in the grips of an allergic reaction, but my heart was racing and I was wide awake. So I made myself some tea and settled down in front of the computer to wrap up some loose ends relating to the wedding.

After I'd been working about twenty minutes, I heard the DMB come out of the bedroom.

"Greg?" she called out plaintively. There was concern in her voice—fear, almost.

"I'm in here," I called back.

She threw open the door to the living room and gasped. "Thank God," she said. "I thought you were already dead!"

I reassured her that I was not yet dead and we spent the next few hours, as I've already mentioned, alternately fueling and nursing each other's anxiety attacks.

In retrospect, I'm troubled by her use of the word "already." Wouldn't it have been enough for her to say she was afraid I was dead? Why "already" dead? The phrasing seems to suggest that my demise was not unexpected—just a little premature.

I really do need to get a look at that policy. . .


Norma Jeane Mortenson was born on June 1, 1926, in Los Angeles. Her mother was insane and her father could not be identified. After her mother's institutionalization, Norma lived in foster homes and orphanages until 1937, when she was taken in by one of her crazy mother's friends. Five years later that woman's husband was transferred to the east coast, and the couple couldn't afford to bring the girl with them. To avoid returning to the orphanage, the now 18-year-old girl married a boy named Jimmy Dougherty. He joined the Merchant Marines and was shipped out to the Pacific in 1944.

While he was away Norma was discovered working on the assembly line at a munitions factory in Burbank. Photographs of her appeared in a "Yank" magazine feature on beautiful young factory workers with insane mothers. This quickly led to a successful modelling career.

Returning from the war in 1946, Jimmy asked Norma what the hell kind of woman served meatloaf without mashed potatoes. She divorced him and signed a contract with Twentieth Century Fox.

She earned $125 per week, which was not bad for the divorced factory-working daughter of a lunatic. Norma quickly realized it wasn't enough, however, so she dyed her hair blonde and changed her name to Marilyn Monroe.

Marilyn Monroe didn't do much better than Norma Jeane Baker until 1950, when she was given the role of Claudia Caswell in All About Eve. This led to bigger and bigger film roles and enabled her to begin dating baseball legend Joe DiMaggio in 1952. Upon the release of Niagara in 1953 she became an actual star, enabling her to marry him in 1954.

They divorced nine months later, in part because Marilyn was always asking Joe where he'd gone and lifting her weary eyes to him.

From this point forward she appeared only in famous movies. Two years later she married playwright Arthur Miller. She divorced him in 1961 and spent the rest of her short life Artlessly.

Forty-one years ago today she died of natural causes, aggravated by sleeping pills, in her Brentwood home.

* * *

The federal government levied an income tax for the first time on this date in 1861.

* * *

August 5 is the birthday of Patrick Ewing (1962), Loni Anderson (1946), Neil Armstrong (1930), and John Huston (1906). It's also my mother's birthday, but I won't reveal her age.

It's Thanksgiving in Croatia, Independence Day in Jamaica, Flag Day in Japan, Discovery Day in Trinidad and Tobago, and Colorado Day in the state of that name.

Happy Tuesday!

2003, The Moron's Almanac™

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