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I called my dad on Father’s Day and he said, “I finally broke down and did it.” Now, when a member of my family says something along these lines, the ingrained response is, “would you like to tell me about it, or shall I just turn on CNN?”

He says, “I bought a bass horn.”
“A…what?” This was unexpected.
“It’s like a tuba, but smaller.”

Huh. My father was all-state cornet champion in 1941, until he tragically blew out an eardrum hitting a high note. He was master, so he says, of a technique called “triple tonguing.”

No. Forget I said that. Certain concepts should not be paired in sentences: “father” and “tonguing” as an example.

Anyhow, he well and truly blew out an eardrum. He’d had ear infections all his life, which they treated in those pre-antibiotic days by poking little drainage holes in same. Horrible procedure, but if they didn’t, the infection could break through in the other direction, brainwards, and then you were fucked. It happened to a friend of his and he died.

Another friend of his died of rabies. He died, and they went into his room, and he had the encyclopedia open to the “rabies” page. Wooo. That’s completely off topic, but I always thought it was cool.

Twenty five years later, they made my dad a new eardrum out of a piece of vein from his arm, scraped thin. I remember visiting him in the hospital. His head was wrapped up in these huge bandages. He looked like Roger Ramjet. It didn’t turn out all that well.

Long story short, the old bugger is very deaf. He practices what you might call Xtreme music. Bagpipes. Banjos. In the bathroom. He likes the acoustics, which he defines as “hey, I can hear this!”

I’ve been thinking of my stepmother, stuck waiting on a deaf, drunken old cripple with a tuba. And I canNOT stop smiling.


Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 18, 2007, 9:05 am

If your dad could triple-tongue then I bet he could play “Flight of the Bumblebee” on the thing. That would be worthy of serious respect…

I heard a (transposed) rendition of FoftheBb on a tuba or whatever once. I actually pulled a gut muscle laughing.

Comment from Gnus
Time: June 18, 2007, 11:35 am

Yeah, Sweasel, triple tonguing is a hard technique to master. Give the old man some credit.

How much credit is entirely up to you, of course.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:01 pm

Rabies. Yecchh. Bad way to go. I bet the encyclopedia was opened to the part that says:

“If you have developed actual physical symptoms from a bite, then you can kiss your poo-pipe goodbye ’cause the disease is really cookin’ now.”

Don’t know if that’s true anymore, though.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:12 pm

I can’t remember if it’s rabies or tetanus that they can sometimes cure now by sedating the victim for several days until the bug works its way out. I think it’s lockjaw; rabies is a brain-eater, isn’t it?

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:24 pm

Rabies definitely heads for the brain. I seem to recall that it is a dogs head (for instance) that is preserved for testing if a suspected rabid dog is killed. The rest of the body is burned, or whatever. Makes sense.

Comment from Missourian
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:29 pm

Lockjaw (tetanus) is treatable with hospitalization, quiet, and antibiotics. Advanced cases sedation, ventilators. Mortality is still 50% worldwide.

In rabies (viral infection of brain), after a person develops symptoms, they’re fucked. Treatment is directed at relieving symptoms and making the person comfortable until they pass.

Comment from Missourian
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:42 pm

Speaking of tetanus. The spousal unit took his 79 year old dad fishing this past weekend. ‘Pops’ hooked himself pretty good in the arm. Hooked nice and deep. The husband was going through the list of things they could do to get it out without causing damage from the barb. Pops said to hell with it and pushed the hook all of the way through and out. Husband about fainted. Pops only concern was that it wasn’t bleeding like he thought it should. He looked at his son and said, ‘That hurt you more than it did me, now let’s go fishing.’ They cleaned the wound with alcohol after the fact but I’m thinking pops should have done that before he got the brilliant idea of piercing his forearm.
He reported the next day that he had to remove a tick too. Lyme disease and lockjaw. Whatever.
Gotta love old guys.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 18, 2007, 1:51 pm

Ah. Thanks. I thought so. My mother was taught that there were only two 100% fatal diseases, rabies and melanoma. But they can sometimes successfully treat melanoma now, can’t they? And surely there are some other 100 percenters, depending on how long you can live with a disease for it not to be considered fatal. Pancreatic cancer and some of those wicked fast gliomas never have a happy ending, do they?

Ah. Cheery thread.

Comment from Dawn
Time: June 18, 2007, 2:00 pm

Wikipedia has a killer article on melanoma. When I check myself for ticks I will look for weird moles too.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: June 18, 2007, 3:35 pm

Interesting that they were just talking about lyme disease on Fox (Fair & Et Cetera). Seems if you remove the tick feeding on you before 24 hours has passed, your chance of contracting lyme disease is nil.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: June 18, 2007, 3:37 pm

…and I believe the only cure for rabies is to lock the victim in a rickety woodshed and apply copious shotgun blasts through a crack in the boards as needed.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 18, 2007, 3:40 pm

Over the years, I’ve known about two co-workers and a company prez that got the ol’ pancreatic bug. None of ’em made it.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: June 18, 2007, 3:51 pm

One more to add to the “no cure” list: Girl cooties.

Comment from S. Weasel
Time: June 18, 2007, 4:02 pm

Funny, I was talking to my dentist about that the other day. Pancreatic got both our mothers. He said there’s a radical thing they’re doing in Boston now that’s more or less working. They scoop you out like a melon and replace the lot. Brrrr.

JW, you’re a real asset to this place. So far, you’ve contributed cooties and boogers.

Comment from jwpaine
Time: June 18, 2007, 4:18 pm

I got a quality.

Comment from Missourian
Time: June 18, 2007, 9:21 pm

Girl cooties. You know you want them. All over you.

Comment from Missourian
Time: June 18, 2007, 9:37 pm

Melanoma is treatable to a certain point. Depends on how fast you notice it and get it treated.
I have heard of certain melanomas getting treated through immuno-type therapies. They sort of custom make a ‘vaccine’ with your specific melanoma. Haven’t heard anything of it lately, so I’m thinking it is still in the testing phase.

Comment from Steamboat McGoo
Time: June 18, 2007, 9:47 pm

Melanoma…boo. It’ll sneak up on you.

I went in to have a wart removed 6-8 weeks ago. The doc did a full exam, looked at my (balding) head and said, “Do you wear a hat in the sun?” I said no.

She said “Start.”

That was the loudest word I’ve heard in years.

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