"There are Stygian hot flashes and sulfuric gasses from the River Styx burning my tonsils. I've started to shake all over. I'm not feeling in the least bit healthy...."

the new olde me
fiction by john richen

I've decided to start this vigorous vitamin regimen. I've been doing some reading. It appears it is time for a change. Imagine, if you will, the new me: fitness conscious, nicotine free, eight hours of sleep, with a drop-and-give-me-twenty approach to life. Six-pack abs instead of the six-pack breakfast. Buns of steel! A mi salud!

Fearing looming feasibility studies applied to the old me, I've taken a whole fistful of vitamin C, E, and a few different forms of B's, plus an assortment of suspicious-looking capsules of therapeutic herbs, topped it off with a couple quarts of hot Black Oolong, and a left on a brisk walk.

Clothed in sporty athletic attire. Boy am I feeling healthy.

As the new and improved, vitamin enhanced me is speed-walking down the street, looking completely ridiculous in ill-fitting spandex active wear, it may be important for the reader to note that this regimen was all loosed upon an empty stomach.

About twenty motivational minutes into the walk my head starts to leak water worse than a broken sprinkler valve. The aforementioned stomach takes on a life of its own, contracting as though a wolverine swimming in nuclear waste is doing advanced yoga maneuvers inside me. There are Stygian hot flashes and sulfuric gasses from the River Styx burning my tonsils. I've started to shake all over. I'm not feeling in the least bit healthy, in fact quite to the contrary I can't remember ever feeling less so. An inalterable certainty hits me right where it counts:

I'm going to be sick.

Sick is by any reasonable definition not healthy. The walk stops, the world spins, and my drenched head explodes all Krakatoa-like through the suddenly foaming side port. It is a glorious workout. A retching of Herculean proportions. Loud, gut wrenching. Groaning and grunting. Magma a la carte. Lightly browned vitamins in an herb capsule demi-glaze. There is so much internal force at work that I've even broken wind a couple times. Loudly. One of the most violent physical acts of my life? Absolutely. And humiliating to boot, since my unhealthy eruption has attracted a startled audience of supremely fit, pink-cheeked joggers.

Once I've gotten my wind back and my stomach starts behaving more like an actual vital organ and less like an invading Mongolian tribe I decide this health business is for the birds. Power-walking my aching abs straight to the Handi-Mart, I acquire a pack of Canadian cigarettes and a 22 ounce can of (Buns of) Steel Reserve. Transcendence. Vitamins my ass. Life's too short for vitamin regimens.

A match is struck, a bluish cloud exhaled. There follows the comforting hiss of malt-infused air escaping from a well-toned can. Buns of Steel. In reserve. I feel better than I have all day. This health business -- it's all in how you look at it.


(illustration: kurt eisenlohr)

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©2005 John Richen • Smokebox
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