A Cancer Story

(Author’s note: I wrote this over a sixteen-month period. It is too long and needs a stern editor. It isn’t dramatic or particularly compelling. It’s just a story about have cancer.)

I have cancer. I’ll repeat that. I have cancer. The tumor is dying, but it’s still considered active. Regardless, it’s not a cancer “scare,” although it is quite scary. It’s the real thing—a malignant tumor in my prostate gland. Medically, it’s an adenocarcinoma. Cancer.

I was 56 when I was diagnosed, not particularly young or old for prostate cancer. I found out in July of 2019. I got a phone call, and the doctor said something to the effect of “We have your biopsy results. You do have malignant cells in your prostate. It’s a low to intermediate grade tumor. It’s very slow growing, but at your age you probably want treatment. We’ll call you back today for an appointment to talk about it. Any questions?” Despite having rolled around numerous nightmarish scenarios for four weeks, I really didn’t have any questions. My only thought at the moment was “Huh. Well, that’s weird.”

About a month before my biopsy, I had my annual physical. By “annual,” I mean the physical examination I have every few years. My last one was four years ago. In all humility, I must say that I am in tip-top physical condition–so, why go to the doctor, right? Apparently, most men my age are big messes. Okay, so my cholesterol should be a tad lower. Oh, and my PSA level was elevated—two and half times higher than before.

You get reserved parking, which is nice.

PSA. Prostate Specific Antigen. Long story short, it’s something produced by your prostate gland for various reasons. One reason is cancer. Mine went up a pretty fair amount in four years. I also had my prostate examined. It’s examined by something called a “digital rectal examination.” “Digital” doesn’t have anything to do with any sort of high tech diagnostics. It’s “digital” as in “finger,” just in case you aren’t aware of how it works. So, after my PSA test and DRE, my doctor thought I should see a urologist for more blood work and, of course, more DREing.

So, I saw a urologist. Great guy. I’m pleased to report that my prostate gland is remarkably small for a man my age. In fact, my urologist says that it’s the “prostate of a 20-year-old.” I guess he means a 20-year-old with cancer, but still…. My incredibly small prostate was something of an indicator of cancer, believe it or not. The increased PSA could have been caused by an enlarged or infected prostate. Mine was in pristine condition.

I’ll admit something. I didn’t know much about the prostate gland until all this. Given my age, I knew well the hideous DRE, but I really didn’t even know precisely where the prostate is located. Now, I know WAY more than I ever thought I would. Naturally, I have thoroughly searched the internet for every hideous prostate cancer story I can find. Did you know that Frank Zappa died at 51 of prostate cancer? Bill Bixby was 59. Gary Cooper was 60. Basketball player John “Hot Rod” Williams was 53. Then again, a lot of really old guys die of prostate cancer, too. Dennis Hopper, for instance. He survived the ‘60’s and countless drug-fueled adventures. He didn’t survive this, though. There’s even a Wikipedia listing people who died from prostate cancer. I’ve studied it. Intently.

Men, if you live long enough, you’ll have prostate problems. You’ll probably have prostate cancer at some point. Like all cancer, the keys are: 1. When you get it; 2. When you find out you got it; and 3. How aggressive it is. Unlike some cancers, it can be treated. Like all cancers, if you wait too long to find out about it, it can also certainly kill you.

Well, my cancer wasn’t going to kill me, at least not any time soon. I was repeatedly assured of that. My oncologist even said, “You’re not going to die from this.” I really appreciated being told that, even though I was able to convince myself that I still might be dying.

In addition to the blood tests and DREs, I also had a biopsy. It was unpleasant. As with all prostate-related procedures, it involved rectal probing. Basically, a metal rod is inserted, then your prostate is located by ultrasound through the wall of your large bowel. After that, a needle is shot into your prostate numerous times to take tissue samples. All in all, it’s pretty painless, as rectal probing goes. Oh, there’s some revolting bleeding that goes on for a few days, but it’s not that big a deal.

It’s biopsy time.

All this happens, and then they tell me it’s cancer. It gets a Gleason Score which is a complicated scoring system using charts that get cross-referenced to give your grade. It’s all rather mechanical. More good news. My score wasn’t too high. Low to intermediate grade adenocarcinoma. That means it’s all inside the prostate—most likely. Now, you have to figure what to do.

This all sounds pretty positive, doesn’t it? Well, it is given the context, yet it was still terrifying. Even though there were some pretty strong indications before the biopsy that I had cancer, I still didn’t really think I had it. It just didn’t seem like something I would have. I’ve never been hospitalized for anything. I’ve never had surgery. Or a CT scan. Or an MRI. The only broken bones I’ve had were two small stress fractures on the top of my right foot about 20 years ago.

After the news sank in, I began to consider that this is the end for me. I’ll find out it’s some sort of unmanageable cancer that runs wild. I was reminded of my wife’s grandmother who liked to regale us with dire stories of her friends who were deathly ill. Once asked her what type of cancer one of her unfortunate friends had. Granny said: “The fast-eatin’ kind.” I figured I had that, too. Like most things that terrify me, it actually never happened. Mine was the “slow-eatin’ kind.” Regardless, there’s still a ton of stress. It’s just weird to think I have cancer. For example, when the dentist asked if I’d had any changes in my health, I had to say “Oh, yeah, I have cancer.”

In the majority of cases—mine included—prostate cancer is slow-growing. I could go a number of years doing nothing before I have major problems. That’s actually one option. Do nothing. Monitor the situation and then act when necessary. That approach wasn’t recommended for me, because I’m relatively young in the prostate cancer world. Plus, I wouldn’t deal well with the stress of being checked every six months or year. So, I had to pick a treatment option.

My choices were radiation, surgery or something called HIFU (High Intensity Focused Ultrasound). HIFU wasn’t covered by insurance, so it was a nonstarter. There are three kinds of radiation treatment: 1) External beam; 2) seed implantation; and 3) CyberKnife. Surgery is just what it sounds like. They cut out your prostate gland. My decision came down between CyberKnife and surgery. I’m not a good candidate for the other radiation treatments for a number of reasons. That’s good, because they’re really intense.

Surgery is the most conservative approach. You cut it out and have thorough pathology done on the gland and know exactly what you’re dealing with. As you might expect, though, there are some real negatives, too. How about walking around with a catheter for at least a couple of weeks? Bladder leakage for some period time or forever. Possible impotence. These are worse case scenarios, of course, but the doctors are blunt about the possibilities. If it came down to courting death or dealing with all this, I wouldn’t have hesitated on the surgery. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case with me. Side effects aside, I’m not real keen on being cut on unless it’s necessary.

I chose CyberKnife. CyberKnife is a high-intensity radiation beam that targets the prostate and then “slices” the tumor up. The goal is to kill it. If it doesn’t not kill it, you want to at least slow it down enough that something gets else you first. Why do this? Turns out I’m a great candidate. I’m very fit. I’m not overweight. My tumor is small and low to intermediate grade. Everyone was quite confident about the treatment.

Of course, this isn’t without its own side effects. There’s fatigue for a two or three weeks. or so. There are the dreaded “frequent loose stools.” The GI issues were minor–more annoying than anything else. All things considered, it’s not so bad.

Your author positioned to begin his fifth-and last-CyberKnife treatment.

So, I had the treatment. I laid on a table and a huge piece of equipment moved around me for about 45 minutes. I had to lie perfectly still. I listened to music. They put a warm blanket over me. Not bad, right? Well, it was a tad scary. In fact, I almost hyperventilated before the first treatment. While I was lying there, it suddenly struck me that I must have something seriously wrong with me. Otherwise, they wouldn’t be doing this to me. Plus, everyone was REALLY nice to me. This is how all patients should be treated.

I forgot about the enemas. I had to have one every morning before my treatment. I had to do it myself, which is preferable I suppose. After a while, one more thing up in there is no big deal. I also had to go on weird “low residue” diet which was about as bland as it sounds.

The treatments were weird. I didn’t feel anything. It didn’t seem like anything was happening, but I knew it was. I knew because no one could be in the room with me while it was happening.

There were side effects. Fatigue was the major one. A couple of days after the last treatment, I started hitting a wall in the afternoon. I’m an active guy. Crazy active. I work out every day, and I did so after my treatment, but I had to work around the fatigue. When it hit, it was like catching the flu in about five minutes. My legs would die. I’d be sleepy, almost achy. It passed after an hour or two, quicker if I could grab a nap.

It took a couple of weeks to start feeling better, but I did. By Christmas, I was hale and hardy again.

There were some urinating issues. The less said about that the better, but it wasn’t so bad. I took one one pill a day for that, and it helped.

So, here’s how we got here:

June 11, 2019: I have my periodic physical. Doctor calls later in the day to talk about my PSA level. It’s not good when your doctor personally calls you on the same day you have a physical.

July 8, 2019: Biopsy.

July 16, 2019: Biopsy results.

August 21, 2019: Meet with urologist to discuss options.

September 12, 2019: Meet with surgeon to discuss surgical option.

September 26, 2019: Meet with radio-oncologist to discuss radiation treatment. That same day, I decided to go with CyberKnife.

October 28, 2019: Fiducial markers inserted into my prostate. These are four pieces of gold about the size of grains of rice. They put in through a needle—again, more rectal probing. These markers make the prostate–and tumor– easy to locate. Unpleasant, but as cancer treatment goes, not that bad.

November 11, 2019: X-rays, CT scan and MRI to prepare a treatment plan. My markers are located and something of a map is created for the CyberKnife to follow in zapping my prostate.

November 25-27 and December 2-3: Treatment.

My diploma

Not much happened after that. I saw my urologist on March 11, 2020. Good news. My PSA level was cut by a third. The doctor and I also talked about this new virus “COVID-19.” He said it looked like really serious stuff and that I should be sure to frequently wash my hands. It sounded like we might be in for a rough few weeks.

Another physical in June 2020 (those will be ANNUAL from now on.) More good news: PSA level cut in half. Then, a follow up visit to the oncologist. He says I’m right where I should be. He’s confident the tumor is dying. I have one more appointment in July 2021, and he expects to release me from treatment. Whew.

In September 2020, I went back to the urologist. By the way, you can’t have a prostate exam during a telehealth appointment, so it had to be face-to-face, or something like that. PSA has fallen even further. Doctor says I’m clearly on my way to full recovery. He took me off my prostate medication.

So, that’s cancer my story (so far). As comic Norm MacDonald says, the best news you get from a doctor is that nothing is wrong with you…YET. Mine isn’t a dramatic tale of survival. I wrote this so I could remember it. The fog of time obscures a lot details. Plus, I want to share it with others who might be in the same situation.

Fifteen doctor/clinic visits; seven prostate exams; seven enemas; one biopsy; one procedure to implant the fiducial markers; and five radiation treatments: Not so bad as cancer treatment goes. Yet, I’m pretty that’s more medical treatment than I’ve had in test of my adult life.

I also learned a lot. In the past, I would hear of people with “non-serious” cancer and think “Well, that’s unfortunate, but it sounds curable. Good for him.” I don’t think that way now. It’s a chilling to be told you have cancer. It’s scary. It’s confirmation of your expiration date—if not now, it’s coming.

I also appreciate doctors and science in a new way. I’ve lived my whole life in Kentucky, and I love it here. Unfortunately, during the COVID pandemic, I learned that many Kentuckians don’t care much for science. They also come up with their own science. If you want to become a fan of science, get cancer. You’ll be all about science then. You won’t be looking for memes or your politicians to tell you what to do. Doctors will do quite nicely.

I can’t overstate how well I was treated. All my questions were answered. If I called, someone PROMPTLY called back. Everyone was nice. The way I am, it made me think I might be really sick. Why else would they be so nice?

I was likewise impressed by the effort to fully educate me. I got recommendations along the way, but the choices were mine.

Big thanks to my primary care doctor Dr. Eiyad Alchureiqi at Lexington Clinic; Urologist Dr. Stephen Monnig at Lexington Clinic; Dr. Alan Beckman, my radio-oncologist at Baptist Healthcare. They and their staffs were top notch from start to finish. My wife, too, deserves HUGE thanks. She was optimistic from start to finish. I needed that.

Here are few lessons I learned:

  1. DON’T tell a cancer patient about that person you know who died of the VERY SAME THING. No one wants to hear that. Your medical opinion is also not likely to be well-received. Okay, so you know a guy who had the same treatment, and it failed miserably. Keep it to yourself.
  2. DON’T tell a cancer patient that he or she should have opted for some other form of treatment. He or she is making a decision based on the available information. Don’t invite second-guessing.
  3. DON’T pry. Here’s the best thing to say: “How are you?” If the person feels like telling you–believe me–you’ll find out. If I feel like telling you that I’m have trouble peeing, I’ll let you know.
  4. DON’T pander. “I’m sure you’ll fine” and the like really don’t mean anything. Unless you’ve had experience with a similar situation, you don’t know if someone will be “fine” or not.
  5. DO be empathetic. I tend to dwell on myself which results in nothing good. This flaw was especially acute after my diagnosis. No matter how bad something seems, someone else has it worse. Just sit in the waiting area at a cancer center, and you’ll see. Think about others. Consider what you would do if you couldn’t get treatment or it didn’t work.

I’ll never look at people with cancer the same way. Cancer is like surgery. “Minor” cancer is someone else’s cancer. I’ve even heard people saying that cancer can be a blessing. I don’t agree, especially for the many folks I’ve known who have been seriously ill or have had debilitating forms of treatment. So, if you have or had cancer, I have, too.

©thetrivialtroll.com 2020 

Are You Mad? The Five Signs of Lunacy

If you’re anything like me, you occasionally wonder if you are going insane or, perhaps, are already there.  “Insane” isn’t really the right word.  That’s actually more of a legal term, requiring some sort of adjudication of your condition. Few of us will ever reach the point that such measures are necessary.   Madness and lunacy are much better terms.  Regardless of whether you call it madness, lunacy, bonkers or just plain crazy, we all think about it from time to time.  (We don’t?  Hmmm.  Maybe it’s just me.  That’s not good at all.)

In any event, I have identified certain markers of madness that may benefit others.  These tell-tale signs should be used as warnings  that we are close to veering off the path of the well-balanced into the median of lunacy.

I have had experience with all of these at various points in my life.  In fact, I’ve had days where I’ve experienced them all.  Those were not particularly good days, by the way.

I must qualify all of this by disclosing that I am NOT a mental health professional.  Indeed, I have no medical or psychological training whatsoever.  I am particularly unqualified to diagnose any condition or to offer any advice regarding appropriate treatment.  So, should you actually be a lunatic, do not contact me for advice.  In fact, don’t contact me at all.  You could be dangerous, you know.


Have you ever thought that you are a very important person, a VIP as it were?  Now, I’m not talking about being important to your family or friends. Don’t confuse this with being important to your dog, either.  Your dog thinks you are the lead dog.  If you think you are a dog, that’s another set of issues altogether.

I’m talking about general importance.  Your opinions are important, for example.  If people disagree with you, it is an outrage.  They are fools, because you are always correct.  Those who disagree with you are Communists, racists, homophobes, anarchists, ne’er do wells, welfare queens, robber barons or many other such disagreeable sorts, depending upon your particular view of the world.  These people lack your intelligence and insight.  They don’t know as much as you know.  Not only are these people wrong, they–and the rest of us–MUST know your opinion on everything for you are important and must be heard.

Chances are that you are like most us and only want to listen to people with whom you agree.  It’s likely–almost certain, in fact–that the only people who want to listen to you are those who share the same views as you.  Everyone else doesn’t want to listen to it.  Sorry, but that’s how it goes.  If you can’t accept that, madness lurks just around the corner.

Have you ever had the urge to say “Don’t you know who I am?”  I know I have.  Sadly, I’ve even said if before–and not just to myself, either.  Perhaps, if I were–say–George Clooney that would make some sense.  But, if I were George Clooney people would actually know who I am, and I wouldn’t have to say it.  Even thinking that is bad.  Thinking it may be even worse, because you might believe people do know who you are when they really don’t.  Then, you just walk around thinking that you shouldn’t have to stand in lines or wait in traffic or pay your bills or wear pants.  Maybe, we all should say it out loud every now and then just to be reminded that they don’t know who we are and don’t care.


This could be a subset of the first sign above.  Your job may actually be important.  If you’re a firefighter, cop, oncologist or teacher you certainly have an important occupation.  People depend on you.  That is a good thing.  Don’t confuse that with your job making you important.

I am a lawyer.  I think that’s an important job.  My clients depend on me to get them the results they want.  Each case I handle is extremely important to those folks.  Many people don’t think much of lawyers.  We rank slightly above crack dealers and slightly below pimps in the public’s view.  Used car dealers and insurance salesman are viewed largely the same.  Yet, we all think we’re important.  The painful truth is that a lot of people can do our jobs just as well–and even better–than we do.

Mathematician/Philosopher and all-round know-it-all Bertrand Russell once said that one of the signs of an impending nervous breakdown is the belief that your job is extremely important.  He was a lot smarter than I am, but I’m not sure that’s correct.  What I am sure of is that the belief that ME doing that job is extremely important is a bad sign.

I’m not irreplaceable.  Neither are you.  If you think you are, try this:  Go in to your place of business and quit.  I did that once.  Guess what?  They were fine without me.  Someone else started doing the stuff I had been doing, and everything continued on as usual.

I’ve worked with people who died unexpectedly.  People were really upset, some because they were human beings and others because death disrupts the workplace, what with the grieving and funerals and what have you.  Soon, though, we were trying to figure out who would get the deceased’s furniture or office.  Some of us were concerned that we might have to do more work.

So, the reality is that if you die at work, someone gets your credenza.  That’s it.


We all know that hearing things can be a bad sign.  Auditory hallucinations cause much trouble in the world.  Rarely do we read of “voices” saying things like “Have a good day” or “Be nice to someone.”  Usually, it’s stuff like “Eat that dog” or “Wear her skin as a vest.”  These voices–at least I’ve been told–seem real, so we do as they command.  If you’ve got that going on, for God’s sake, do something about it.

There is other stuff you can hear.  God, for example.  I’m not talking about something like a friend saying “God spoke to my heart.”  That’s a kind of metaphorical observation that means “I got this feeling.”  We’ve all had that.  I mean God actually talking and you possibly talking back.  Think of it like this:  God went silent late in the Old Testament.  Why would He start talking to you?  If it’s because you are really important, re-read my comments above.

Maybe the radio talks to you.  If you’re driving down the road screaming at Sean Hannity, that’s a problem.  He can’t hear you.  Perhaps you think 1970’s singer Dan Hill is crooning to you when you hear Sometimes When We Touch on the Oldies station.  He isn’t.  I used to think Olivia Newton-John was singing to me.  I don’t think that anymore, unless I’m watching Grease.

You may have pets.  You may love your pets more than any human.  Good for you, but they don’t talk.  Even if you talk to them in exaggerated baby talk that would embarrass any self-respecting infant, your dog or cat isn’t talking back.  If they do, just Google “Son of Sam” and stay far away from me.

Oh, don’t confuse this with seeing things.  There many benign explanations for this phenomenon–strong drink, drugs, poor lighting, etc.  Don’t worry about this unless the things you see start talking to you.


There’s nothing wrong with medication, assuming it’s prescribed and you need it.  Cymbalta, Wellbutrin, Zoloft and the like have done a world of good by altering troubling brain chemistry.  If you stop taking it, though, we have a problem.  This is especially true if you’re taking any sort of anti-psychotic medication.

When people start feeling better, they don’t want to take their medication anymore.  They are, in their dysfunctional minds, “cured.”  Here’s what you should do:  The day you stop taking your medication, note that this is the day you start down the road to full-blown lunacy.  You might even want to mark it on your calendar.


We don’t need to belabor this point.  Suffice to say that if you believe in any vast conspiracy that has remained secret for many years, you are not firing on all cylinders.  Here is a just sampling of topics about which you may believe a conspiracy exists:

  • The moon landing
  • 9-11
  • Marilyn Monroe’s death
  • Elvis Presley’s death
  • Bob Denver’s death
  • The Kennedy Assassination
  • Barack Obama’s birthplace
  • The firing of the original Darren on Bewitched
  • Anything involving a “New World Order”
  • Area 51
  • Communists
  • Big Foot
  • Yeti
  • The Knicks winning the 1985 NBA Draft Lottery

This list could be 10 times longer, but we’ll stop for brevity’s sake.  There may be conspiracies peculiar to your own circumstances.  For instance, your child may do poorly in school.  You may believe that this is a result of teachers, administrators and fellow students conspiring against your child.  Consider that your child may not be very bright or could be down right lazy.  It happens.

Try this.  Go out and see if you can line up 10 people you know for or against anything.  It ain’t easy.  Imagine now that you were wanting to kill someone with their help.  Not likely.

Just repeat to yourself each day:  There are no conspiracies.  If you hear a voice repeating it back to you, well, you know.


These are the five markers of madness.  You’ll notice that I didn’t delve into actual mental illnesses such as bipolar disease, schizophrenia, depression and the like.  Again, I have no medical training.  These specific diagnoses are best left to the professionals or you can easily diagnose yourself by searching on the Internet for your particular symptoms.  Here is an educational video to help you better understand such diseases of the mind.

There is good news.  Any one of these peculiarities, standing alone, is likely no more than a sign that you are weird or–if you are wealthy–eccentric.  Two or more, sadly, point directly to crippling lunacy.  You may be fortunate and become pleasantly mad–like many town characters throughout our great land.

It’s time to stop–at least that’s what the voices are telling me.  You know how pushy they can be.

©thetrivaltroll.wordpress.com 2013

My Over 50 Not-To-Do List

I’m in my 51st year on the planet.  Although many people have exceeded my longevity, this impresses me.  Of course, lots of folks lived less time than I have and did much more–Mozart, for example.  All in all, though, living longer is a good thing.

I now read AARP publications.  AARP recently ran a tongue-in-cheek article about things NOT to do after age 50.  It was somewhat humorous.  Somewhat.  Like a lot of things, it got me thinking.  Now, that I’m 50 (and have been for several months now), what won’t I do?  Here are five such things:

PLAY BALL!  I’ve written before about my mediocrity as an athlete.  That never stopped me from trying to play sports.  No more.  No basketball.  No softball.  No flag football.  Nothing where I risk injury.  Why?   I don’t want any other injuries.  The older you get, the more injury-prone you are.  My sports are now limited to baseball and basketball with my youngest son and even then I don’t go all out.

I’ve never had a serious injury.  I’ve never worn a cast or had surgery or used crutches.  I did tear a muscle in my shoulder once, but they can’t do much about that.  I had a stress fracture in my foot, but it went away.

In my 30’s I scraped the outside of left calf sliding during a softball game.  It looked like a burn and hurt like hell. It scabbed up in a couple of days.  Then, the scab disappeared, and it looked like an orange peel, except oozy.  You know how your mother said that a cut with red lines running from it is bad?  It had those, two.  It was something called cellulitis.  The doctor said it was a “galloping infection.”  I had to elevate my leg and put a heating pad on the open wound.  I also had to draw a circle around it with a Sharpie.  If the red spread past the outline, that would be bad.  When I stood, the blood rushed to my leg and it felt like a thousand needles.  I  had to get a shot every day, too, for a week.  The shot gave me diarrhea.  For days, I was reduced to lying down with a heating pad on an open sore which burned like it was on fire while trying to control my bowels and drawing on my leg with a magic marker.  I’m just too old for this kind of thing.

Even if I wanted to play sports, I probably can’t.  The simplest of sports may be beyond me now. A few months ago, I passed baseball with my 17-year-old son who is a high school baseball player.  He can throw 80-85 mph without much effort.  I was terrified.  Enough of that, too.

Fortunately, my youngest son is almost 11 now.  If I had a younger kid, I’d hire someone to play with him.  No sense taking unnecessary risks.

ANGRY UP MY BLOOD:  The great baseball player Satchel Paige once cautioned against eating fried food, because it would angry up one’s blood.  I don’t necessarily agree with that, because I like fried food.  I do, however, agree with the caution about angrying up the blood.

I was an angry young man.  Angry about all kinds of stuff–my job, politics, religion, sports–pretty much everything.  I had a short fuse which was easily lit, too.  I was an unpleasant person.  I’m too old for all that, as well.

It seems that my peers become angrier with age while I mellow.  I am aging in reverse, like a far less handsome version of Brad Pitt as Benjamin Button.  It seems that everyone my age is mad about liberals, conservatives, the rich, the poor, taxes, drones, sports, religion and life in general.  Here’s the deal:  We all have opinions.  So do I.  I’m certain that mine aren’t all that important.  In fact, I may be flat wrong on many (most?) of them.  Same goes for you.  I’m sure that pisses you off.  Relax.

I’m confident that being mad shortens my life.  How?  Well, every minute I waste fuming about something, I could be doing something else.  So, there goes part of my life down the old crapper.  As a live and let live guy, I really don’t care if you’re mad, even at me.  Just don’t ask me to play along.

GET IN MY CUPS:  I was once quite fond of strong drink.  I may still be, but I haven’t partaken in several years.  Understand that I have no problem with those that do.  I just believe that such indulgences are a young man’s game.  Hangovers had bad for my brain.  Why else would my head hurt like that?  Vomiting is no good under any circumstances.  Also, not remembering conversations or where I’ve been or what I’ve done is problematic.  Soon enough, age itself will cause such problems.  No need to speed the plow.

Here’s the kind of thing I did when I drank.  A few years ago (not as many as you might think), my wife and I went to a party.  I drank quite a bit before the party and quite a bit at the party.  Oh, I had a grand time–or so I’ve heard.  When we came home, I retired to the basement whereupon I quickly dozed off (the more crass of you might call it “passing out.”)  A couple of hours into my respite, I had the urge to relieve myself.  Rising from the couch, I was unsteady on my feet.  No doubt this was from the deep REM sleep.  As I staggered toward the bathroom, somehow I fell forward, striking my head on a wooden post.   Oh, I also broke my glasses.

No problem.  Holding my forehead, I made it to the bathroom and did my business.  My right brow was really throbbing, so I thought I might take a look at it.  Leaning close the mirror–remember my glasses were broken–I moved my hand from my right eye to get a good look.

The funny thing about cuts to the head is that they bleed far in excess of the severity of the actual injury.  When I moved my hand, blood fairly gushed from a small slice in my right eye brow.  It ran into my eye and down my face.  It just kept coming.  There was only one thing to do–I puked and went into a full-blown swoon.  Then I sat in the floor convinced that I was bleeding to death and would be found covered in blood and vomit–not a glorious demise.

So, I did the only thing I could do.  Holding a towel to my head, I climbed the two flights of stairs to the master bedroom and consulted my dear wife.  Let’s just say that the evening suddenly took an even uglier turn.

I’m too old for this kind of foolishness now.  Let the young men bleed profusely and copiously vomit.  I’ll sip my Starbucks, work the crossword puzzle and retire for the evening at 9:30 or so.

EAT WELL:  This takes some explaining.  I don’t eat all that poorly.  I don’t have a weight problem.  I’m a lean, mean 160 pounds.  Perfect middle-weight size.  Think of me as a whiter, less-imposing, soft version of Marvelous Marvin Hagler (if you don’t know Hagler, you’re not my age).  At one time I weighed 176 pounds, which was a little too much.  I quickly shed that weight.  That’s just a genetic thing.  Don’t get all pissed off (see section above).

People want me to eat well, and I guess I should.  My family has a bit of a history of heart disease.  Regardless, there are things I like to eat.  They include, but are not limited to:

  • High fructose corn syrup
  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Ice Cream
  • Eggs
  • Bacon
  • Pork in general
  • Deep fried anything
  • Gluten
  • Peanut butter
  • Hot dogs
  • Red meat
  • White meat
  • Meat

I also don’t mind my food being laced with preservatives.  Why not?  Hey, I like it preserved until I want to eat it.  Call me crazy.

I’m not diabetic.  I don’t have celiac disease. Or diverticulitis.  Or any food allergies.  If you do, please watch what you eat.  The key here is to watch what you eat, not what I eat.

If YOU don’t want to eat this stuff, I’m okay with it.  I won’t force it on you.  I don’t have people to my house for dinner anyway.  Eat what you want.  You can eat free range horse for all I care.  Just don’t tell me what to eat.  I enjoy food and fully intend to continue to do so.

FIGHT CLUB:  Chief Joseph said:  “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever.”  That’s a good philosophy, and I agree wholeheartedly with him.  Fighting isn’t good, especially if you run the risk of getting the crap beat out of you.

Like heavy drinking, fighting is a young man’s business.  When you’re young, fighting can be a test of your manhood.  It can also be provoked by heavy drinking.  Either way, it’s usually a one-on-one situation and little harm is done.

Unlike in the movies, real fights rarely result in a lot of punching.  A good punch is almost always a “sucker” punch which the recipient doesn’t see coming.  Otherwise, punching is mostly a bunch of embarrassingly wild swinging.

It hurts to be squarely punched in the face.  It also hurts to squarely punch someone in the face.  Your hand explodes in pain.  I don’t like pain.  That said, real fights end up with a bunch of rolling around on the ground.

Another thing about real fights.  No one gets punched in the face repeatedly and keeps fighting.  Nor do you punch anyone in the face repeatedly.  The human head is hard.  It’s like a bowling ball with a few soft places on it.  Go punch a wall five or ten times and let me know what you think.

At a certain age–maybe 30–I realized that people who are willing to fight might be dangerous, especially if they, too, were in their 30’s.  These folks also tend to carry weapons, because they’re looking for trouble.  I don’t want even a remotely deadly weapon used on me.  I don’t want to throw a punch and miss, only to end up with a Chinese throwing star stuck in my forehead.

One possible exception is that I might fight a younger man.  Why would I do that? Wouldn’t youth put me at a terrible disadvantage?  Possibly.  However, don’t discount the power of being Old Man Strong.  We all reach an age where our years create a certain toughness without us even knowing it.  Some suggest that perhaps we lose the will to live and become fearless.  I prefer to think of it as God’s way of rewarding us for surviving.

When I was in high school, a friend of mine foolishly punched his dad.  His dad didn’t flinch.  Old Man Strong. Fight over.

So, if you’re a young fellow, be careful.  If you get mouthy with an old guy and he just chuckles or, worse yet, takes a step toward you, run.  It may be all that saves your dignity.


This is hardly a comprehensive list of things I won’t be doing.  Such things as starting a meth lab, amateur pornography and polygamy are also taboo.  These, though, are things I wouldn’t have ever done, as far as you know.

I’m not perfect.  Maybe one day I’ll be shooting basketball with my kid, and you’ll wander into my yard spewing about politics and telling me to reduce the MSG in my diet.  Like Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven, I’ll take a swig of whiskey and then start a fight with you.  Let’s try to avoid all that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2013

Tell Me What You Think…or Don’t: One Man’s Lament

Maybe it’s just a natural function of age, but I’m growing tired and rather impatient about a few things. Well, actually a LOT of things.

Another part of it is my contrarian nature. My Dad called it my “mountain” attitude, meaning that I have a tendency to rail against things just to do it. In fact, I rail against that description. I am NOT contrarian, dammit!

Conversely, I’m one of those strange people who are happy most of the time, regardless of the circumstances.  That doesn’t mean I’m perfect.  Things can and do annoy me.

I’m also possessed of an odd belief that people are concerned about my opinion. Intellectually, I know that’s not true. But, I’m no intellectual, so I insist on making my views known, not to persuade, mind you, but just to go on record. Everyone wants to know what makes my tick. Well, here is a list of things sure to annoy me:


Don’t misunderstand. I like food. Love it, in fact. Good food is one of life’s pleasures. I don’t often eat really good food, but when I do it’s quite the treat. So, why do I list food? Because people try to tell me what to eat.

I love bacon, as do most people. Evidently, bacon is unhealthy. I don’t care. It’s good on everything or just by itself. Generally speaking, I don’t care for salads. But, throw some bacon on it, and I’m all over it. I assume it’s unhealthy, because it’s good. If it tasted like a baseball glove, I’m sure it would be fabulous for my health.

Fat is bad for you. No shit, Dick Tracy, as previous generations would say. Fat also is the key to anything tasting worth a damn. You want to fix the taste of something, deep fry it. Don’t like bananas? Deep fried bananas would get your attention. Fried chicken, fried pork chops, chicken fried steak, fried shrimp, fried oysters, fried potatoes–all excellent. Broil, boil, saute’ or bake them, and they may still be good, but not quite as good. If I want to fry my food it’s none of your damn business. Period. I’ve heard of people eating deep fried sticks of butter. So what?

Deep-fried butter. Why not?

Chocolate, of course, is bad. Too fatty. My Papaw once said he’d eat a turd if you covered it with chocolate sprinkles. I believed him. He lived to be 91, despite having–as my father once noted–“the eating habits of a billy-goat.” Deep-fried, chocolate-covered bacon for everyone!

I’m also sick of gluten. Sick of it, not allergic to it, as about 75% of Americans seem to be now. I’m a fairly bright fellow and reasonably well-educated, too. Until about 3 years ago, I had never heard of gluten. NEVER. What the hell is it, anyway? I ate some gluten-free cookies once. I determined that “gluten” is Latin for “taste.” They were like eating discs made of Play Dough and cinders, except less appetizing. Yes, I’ve eaten Play Dough, and I’ll eat it again if I damn well choose. Wanna know how to make gluten-free bread? Get a bag of sand, mix with water and bake until inedible.

The First Lady is concerned about what I eat and what my kids eat. Thank you very much, Mrs. Busybody. One of the best things we had for school lunches was peanut butter sandwiches. Not just any peanut butter, either. It was peanut butter mixed with corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup. Outstanding. Nowadays, you’d have a better chance of feeding kids ground glass and rat poison. I’ll eat what I want to eat, thank you. So will my kids. If they end up weighing 400 pounds, so be it. Maybe that makes me a bad parent. If so, there are few laws against that.

The Mayor of New York is so concerned about what people eat that he wants to outlaw almost everything that tastes good. He doesn’t even want homeless people to eat without checking the nutritional content of their food first! Being a billionaire doesn’t mean you’re smart (see also Trump, Donald).

Here’s how it shakes out. I’m eating bacon, eggs, fried stuff, chocolate, candy, cake, lard, butter, oils, snack cakes, fats, trans fat, super-trans fats–you name it. Leave me alone.


Everything is made of carbon, yet it is the most horrible substance on the planet. The more you produce, the more evil you are. We are dying of carbon, even while we live only because of it. God, it seems, does have a sense of humor.

We all must reduce our carbon footprint. What is a carbon footprint? In simple terms–on this topic, can there be any other?–it’s how much carbon you produce. Al Gore has flitted about the globe belching carbon from his private jets to preach this gospel to us. How does one reduce his or her carbon footprint? There are many ways, but the best way is to reduce your lifestyle to unlivable Hell.

Well, here’s another deal for you. As Samuel Goldwyn (or some other movie mogul) said, “Include me, out.” I’m producing as damn much carbon as I can.

Bigfoot will have nothing on my carbon footprint

I don’t recycle. I used to, but the rules are more complicated than the NFL Quarterback Rating System. Bottled water is the Sasquatch of carbon. I drink bottled water. Five or six bottles a day. If I didn’t drink it, I’d order a bunch of empty bottles just for the privilege of throwing them away.

I don’t care about the gas mileage of my car, except to the extent that I might want to save money. If I don’t want to save money, I’m helping the economy. Here’s what I DO care about–liking my car. If I’d like my car better with a lignite-burning oven strapped to the top, I’ll pimp my ride accordingly.

I’ll also use as much electricity as I want. Washers, dryers, dishwashers, water heaters, microwave ovens, electric arc ovens–anything. I’ll build a big damn Frankenstein lab in my basement, but instead of lightning, I’ll hook it right into the Eastern Power Grid. I even go outside and watch the meter spin on the side of my house like a bunch of freakin’ green-ass windmills.

I might also hook up a huge diesel-powered generator just for the hell of it. I’ll use it only to power the light in my garage, which I’ll burn 24 hours a day.

Oh, I also buy a bunch of cows if I want. Yeah, cows. They produce a huge amount of carbon, belching, farting and dumping all over the place. I might put a whole herd in my yard for no reason other than that. If I get tired of them, then I’ll eat them–red meat and all.

My future backyard. Get to work, girls!

Another reason I’m tired of carbon is that I’m even more tired of “global warming” which is now called “climate change.” I like warm weather. I also like the beach. If the beach moves closer to Kentucky, I consider that a positive development. You know what I don’t care for? Bears, polar or otherwise. I also don’t like Winter. Check that. I HATE Winter. Hate it. Oh, but you say, “You should move to a warmer climate.” YOU CAN’T MAKE ME MOVE! Besides, why move to warmer weather when I can bring the weather to me?


It’s always fashionable to say that one is sick of politics. I’m sicker now of politics than ever before. Of course, like any sane person, I get sick of politics during election season. The advent of social media has made this especially problematic. Some folks on social media are like drunks at a bar who can’t stop droning on about the state of the world while their contribution to it consists of vomiting on themselves. Election season, it seems, never ends.

If you’re like Chris Matthews, I don’t understand. By that, I don’t mean that you’re soaked in flop sweat and yell a lot. I mean you tingle or shiver when a politician speaks. If so, you and I exist on different planes.

What I’m tired of is being told what is politically good or bad or what I should think or what is important. Different people have different experiences. What’s important to you may not be important to me. Get the Hell over it. If you tell me something with which I disagree 1,000 times, all that means is that I’ve disagreed 1,000 times. Stop.

Frankly, I used to struggle with my political apathy. I decided to do a comprehensive overview of what politicians have done to make my life better. I thoroughly reviewed where I am in life and what matters most to me. After distilling this data, I made a list of the five things I could identify that any politician has done to help me:






That’s the list. Yours may be much longer. Good for you.  Keep it to yourself.


Boy, oh, boy, am I sick of Iran. I have been since I was a teenager in the 1970’s. I’m particularly sick of its President, the redoubtable Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. I will give him credit for rocking the business casual look. Other than that, go away.

The unrivaled King of Business Casual

Unlike the other things I’ve listed, with this one I’m not sick of other people talking about it.  I’m sick of Iran talking about Iran.

Iran is like a guy once knew. He had a big mouth. Always threatened people, especially when under the influence of an intoxicant. He was always going to kick someone’s ass. One night, someone took him up on it. He got kicked in the stomach until he puked.  By the way, that guy was me.

One problem is that I don’t think their language (don’t ask me what it is) translates well. No one talks like these people. Let’s say the U.S. moves an aircraft carrier near Iran. Old Mahmoud is liable to say something like: “We will fill their mothers’ boots with the blood of their oxen!” We will immediately consider this to be a threat, even though no one has any idea what it means. Just once, I’d like the State Department to issue this statement:

We condemn in the strongest term’s Iran’s most recent threat to emasculate our goats with the Sword of God. We have now decided to whip their asses. They can name the time and place. It’s on its way.

I’m also sick of them picking on Israel. Israel is like our little brother. They’re annoying, always want our stuff, borrowing money and expect us to back them up. That said, you like your little brother. Your brother may not always be right, but he’s your brother.

I wish Iran would follow North Korea’s lead. Isolate. North Korea always has nutty leaders, but they concentrate on terrorizing their own citizens. Otherwise, we don’t hear much from them. Here’s another pointer for all you revolutionaries. If you overthrow a government and want to start a new one, be careful about one thing. If one of your cohorts is known as “Ayatollah,” you might want to give him a lesser role in your new government. Maybe something in your postal service. Trust me on this one. You’ll thank me later.

Don’t construe this as advocating a war. I’m more tired of war than I am of Iran. I just want them to quiet down before someone decides to kick them in the stomach.


Of course, I don’t mean you literally. You might be in that exclusive group of people who I genuinely care about it. Even if you aren’t, I have no ill will toward you or at least not a significant amount of it.

The you that torques my jaws is the one who tells me what I need to do. Or should do. Or will do, by God.

You may not be very good at running your own life. What are the chances you can run mine?  I certainly can’t run yours nor do I have any interest in trying.

So, I’m weary of you telling me how to eat or live or vote. Don’t tell me how to raise my kids. Or what to worship. Don’t tell me what car to drive. Thank you.

I’ll make you a deal. I also won’t tell you what to do. I won’t even try to set an example for you–good or bad. Oh, stay out of my yard, too.

You, of course, are free to do as you see fit. Move to Iran, go gluten-free, drive an electric car and vote for anyone you want. Or don’t do any of that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012