Sunday, May 21, 2017

Carly & Jack, 2052

Jack: What year was it that Uncle Complete and Total Loser died?
Carly: God, Uncle Complete and Total Loser. I haven't thought about him in ages. Hang on, I'll access.
Jack: No, come on, try to wet brain it. 
Carly: OK. Uh, I think it was in 2016.
Jack: I think it was later than that.
Carly: Yeah?
Jack: Yeah, it was after my freshman year and your junior year. Remember we had to drive him around that summer to appointments?
Carly: Right. I would take him shopping. To supermarkets.
Jack: Supermarkets. Jesus.
Carly: Well that would've been in 2017, so ... I'm gonna verify with implant. Huh. Yeah, it was 2017 that we drove him around and he died in ... 2019. The middle of that November.
Jack: I don't remember going to the funeral.
Carly: There wasn't one, remember? We just had a get together at home and sort of melded it with Thanksgiving.
Jack: Oh yeah. Right. Huh.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Waiting

commuters waiting for a train
Commuters wait for a train.
This is one of the many weeks the Complete and Total Loser simply waits. In this case, he waits to find test results that may (will; you watch) indicate that he has a good enough chance of having prostate cancer that a biopsy will be needed, which will interfere with the pending second try at knee replacement surgery, and the Loser will have to continue being on crutches, his ruined right leg dangling uselessly, probably indefinitely.
It is not fun and the Loser is tempted to do something as corny as make a list of things he's grateful for. Why not? It's not like it could hurt.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

On the counter

the press sees a compact disc for the first time
The press sees a compact disc for the first time.
Right now, on a counter in the kitchen, near the telephone, is a disc with a cat scan of the Complete and Total Loser's chest, taken yesterday. 
This disc knows whether or not the Loser will die of slow suffocation in the near future or not. 
He is tempted, of course, to put it in his computer and look at the results, but he's holding off on that. He is not a medical professional and he is untrained in how to read such things. He will wait until tomorrow, when he meets with his doctor, who will interpret the results.
But the Loser is tempted. 
Would you be?

Friday, May 5, 2017

The binary test

Tomorrow, the Complete and Total Loser will have a chest CT. If it finds something, the Loser will die. If it doesn't, the Loser will still die, but not right away; he'll die when he's supposed to, like everyone else.
There is no treatment for what the test may find. The best the Loser could do, his doctor told him, is to see if anyone is doing trials for it, which is unlikely as it's a rare disease.
Ah, life.
sky cloud trees
It is nearly definite that this is the most beautiful planet anyone you'll ever know will ever see.

Friday, April 28, 2017

How it went

The Complete and Total Loser's recent operation went badly, of course, and now instead of a new right knee he has no right knee at all and it won't be for a few days whether he knows if he'll ever walk on two legs again or not. 
Typical!
hospital bed
The Loser's hospital bed, as he was departing it.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The woo woo

Die hard skeptics call beliefs in the paranormal and various faith-based healing things and all that stuff "the woo woo." (In fact, many of them wouldn't call themselves skeptics, which implies they haven't made up their minds and could be convinced of things, but simple non-believers.) 
The phrase is a dismissive one and disrespectful to believers, and the Complete and Total Loser is all for it. In his teens and early adult years he was a strong believer in ESP, telekinesis, levitation and the like, and read books on them and kept an open mind. Decades of inquiry, however, turned up nothing and now the Loser is on the side of those who call it "the woo woo."
healthy knees
If these were the Loser's knees, you wouldn't be reading this.

And yet. The Loser, for some reason, has a bad hunch about the outcome of the knee replacement surgery he'll have three days from now. He's attributing that to the general anxiety anyone has before major surgery, but the feeling is there nonetheless. If you're reading this and it's the last entry, or close to it, perhaps some of the woo woo is more than random chance making the supernatural look real.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Shopping, remembering

When no one loves you and you don't really have any good friends, getting ready to be housebound for months is hard. 
Although his surgery is a week away, the Complete and Total Loser has stockpiled prodigious amounts of stuff. Over one hundred and twenty bottles of water, lots of butter, bagels he's halved and frozen, six jars of peanut butter to put on those bagels, two dozen rolls of toilet paper, bath soap, aspirin, microwaveable meals, a variety of meats he's wrapped in foil and frozen, two cases of beer. He has much more to buy. Nuts, pickles, tofu, instant coffee, eggs, chicken sausage, juice. Some of this he's waiting until closer to the date so the food won't expire. Fortunately, the Loser is smart enough to know that most foods last well beyond their assigned expiration dates.
gorilla hoarding food
A gorilla hoarding food.

But no matter how much he buys the Loser knows that he'll miss something essential. Something dumb like salt. Paper towels. Toothpaste. 
Meanwhile, the knee that will be replaced seems to know it and is hurting as much as it can. In a way, this is good. It will keep the Loser from coming up with an excuse to avoid the operation. It's also making him think of a woman he knew over thirty years ago named Marlys. 
Marlys lived in the same house in Minneapolis the Loser lived in after college. The house had been divided into efficiency apartments and was inhabited by five people, all well under thirty except for Marlys, who was in, probably, her late fifties, the age the Loser is now. Life had been neither kind nor unkind to Marlys. It just ignored her completely. She'd never married. She made the Loser uncomfortable because she was clearly one of those people who simply never got it, something he at that age hoped wouldn't apply to him forever.
The Loser could hear her snoring through the thin drywall between their apartments in the otherwise solidly constructed house, which had been built to withstand harsh Minnesota winters. (The sound depressed him; he moved his bed away from the wall.) Of the few conversations they had, the one the Loser remembers now is of Marlys having trouble one day getting a taxi to take her back from the supermarket. "I certainly can't walk that far," she told the Loser, her expression one of stupid wonder that anyone could. It was her knee. The Loser, an unwrinkled 23-year-old, listened politely, concealing mild contempt. That store's just five blocks from her. It's a ten minute walk, if even that. 
With age and decrepitude comes understanding.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Now you know almost everything

The oldest email account the Complete and Total Loser has uses his middle name. An elderly woman who has the same last name as that mistakenly emails the Loser an occasional update on her goings on. The Loser informed her of this some time ago, yet the emails continue.
Dorothy Gale Wizard of Oz
Judy Garland as Dorothy Gale in The Wizard of Oz.

The latest:
My day!
I was writing a very detailed account of my appointment and it suddenly disappeared!  Now I’ll write the nitty-gritty.
 Kevin took me to the Clinic.  After I finished, he came and got me and took me to the Imaging Center to have an Xray done.  While I was doing that he just sat in the parking lot and waited for me then took me to Walmart to pick up my medicine.  The longest part of that experience was standing in the pick up line only then did I find out it was an over-the-counter product which cost $2.00 and they paid the tax because they had pennies there!
 Now back to the Xray.  The girl who got all my information asked if I lived at College Square.  Well, her grandmother lives here. The Tech who did the Xray said I looked very familiar and did I go to Woodland Heights. Of course I said I did so we had a nice little visit.
 When we got back to College Square I decided to go down for
“supper” since I didn’t go down at lunchtime.  During that time Channing came by to tell me that you had called. Then Kathleen came by to tell me you had called, so I returned to my apartment and removed my phone from my purse which was in my closed closet.
 Before taking my shower and getting ready to go to the doctor’s office I knitted a bit.  Did no unravelling!
 Now you know almost everything.  If you have questions please ask.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Getting ready

The Complete and Total Loser is getting ready for a total knee replacement, which will happen the 24th of this month (April, 2017). He is not looking forward to it, even though his knee has hurt for years now. 
woman bather using shower chair
A woman using a shower chair.

The Loser is even trying to find excuses to cancel it, like his sore hip, which will need replacing in a few years. He knows he'll go through with it and put up with the intense pain and probably not be as good at the rehabilitation part of it as he should be because he has no one in his life who loves him and will make him stay motivated. And he also knows that before he's at all recovered and back in shape something else will come up, like prostate cancer, and he'll probably be killed by it before he's even had a chance to enjoy the painful surgery's benefits.
Meanwhile, he has bought a shower chair. It cost $55, a lot for a cheap plastic device, but the Loser knows he'll probably need it again before long.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Constant losing

Life has never been more dull for the Complete and Total Loser than it is now. The Loser has a strong hunch that he has started a post before with that exact sentence, which says much about his life in general.

right knee x-ray
An X-ray of the Loser's right knee.
The only thing of note is that at the end of April he will have knee-replacement surgery on his right knee. He doesn't look forward to the intense pain that will follow that, or the disability status, or the clouded thinking the pain and drugs to alleviate will cause, but it is necessary. The joints last from ten to fifteen years, he's been told. That seems like a short time: The car the Loser drives is nearly twenty years old and most of its original parts work fine. The Loser doesn't, however, see himself living to be over seventy, so he's fine with that estimate.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Sally died

The Complete and Total Loser reads the death notices in his local paper every day. Today, he learned that a woman who was a year behind him in college died. Her name was Sally.
The Loser was stunned. 
He went to her house in 1976 because her parents were holding an event for area high school seniors to learn more about the college, which is in Ohio, far from the Loser's suburban Philadelphia town. Sally's father went to the college and Sally would have been there but the Loser doesn't recall meeting her at that time.
He met her when he was a sophomore and she a freshman. The college was (and is still) a small one and kids from the same regions tended to find one another quickly even if they'd never met in high school. Sally was pretty, funny, smart and talented. She sang in the school's female a Capella group.

The Loser went to an all-boys school, Sally to an all-girls one. A clear memory the Loser has is of talking to Sally about his senior year prom (only seniors at these small private school had proms), which he did not attend because being a loser, he knew no girls, and never went to social events in high school. Sally told him she'd gone with a classmate of the Loser's named Frank.
Frank and the Loser had been childhood friends, largely because they lived in easy walking distance from one another. The boys were very different, though, and Frank and the Loser were merely acquaintances from third grade on. 
Sally said she found Frank terribly dull and didn't enjoy the evening.
"Then why did you go with him?" the Loser said.
Sally looked puzzled by the question. 
"He asked me," she said. "I'd have gone with you if you'd asked me."
The Loser was taken aback. He imagined himself at the prom, with Sally. He couldn't dance, but he'd sit around and talk with her, they'd make jokes, tell her how nice she looked. He'd introduce her to teachers and feel almost like a normal boy. 
She moved back and settled in the area after college. The Loser lived elsewhere for the next nine years. After he'd returned, he'd heard from a mutual friend that Sally hadn't married even though she'd wanted to very much. She kept her looks; the Loser saw her on television once as she was participating in a fund drive. She knew how to talk to men and had boyfriends in college who were invariably handsome, nice young men the Loser thought well of.
Although he never felt well enough about himself to get in touch with her, somehow the Loser always thought he'd see Sally again and perhaps even become friends.
It's too late now.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

To his anonymous friend

The Complete and Total Loser got something his uninteresting and poorly written blog seldom gets: A comment. 
Here it is:

Dear B.,
I am young but like you. How are you certain that god does not exist?


The Loser answers with this:
Dear Young Anonymous person,
Thank you very much for your kind words. The Loser rarely hears others say they like him. Usually, people tolerate him but of course no one says that. (Have you ever put a recording device in a room with people you know in it, left the room, come back later and listened to it? The Loser has and he found it quite the learning experience. He ended up sorry that he did it. There are some things you're better off not knowing.)
The Loser is hesitant to discuss religious matters with you. We all reach our own conclusions in our own way, and the way the Loser decided there was no deity involved in the affairs of humans, animals, snowflake design or anything else are likely different in many ways from the way an estimated one billion other atheists drew their own conclusions. 
A saying you'll hear when methods of investigation are discussed is "Absence of evidence is not necessarily evidence of absence." That's a wise rule, but in some cases it doesn't pass muster. If, for example, you spend a lot of time trying to determine whether or not the Loser has ever been in Moscow and find sound explanations for every instance of his whereabouts and not one of them indicates a trip to Moscow, you can be ninety-nine percent sure that the Loser has never been to Moscow. (You can never be one hundred percent sure of anything, including that you and everyone you know are not merely figments of a remarkable being's dream, but the sane among us behave as though we are.)
The Loser is old and he envies you. You have access to a wealth of information at your fingertips to gather information on this topic with. Take advantage of that. But be sure to talk to real people, both believers and nonbelievers. A member of the clergy, teachers, your parents and relatives, friends. Listen to both sides. Do your own thinking, make up your own mind. One argument in favor you may hear is that without belief in a higher power that has a grand design and we participate in it, life is purposeless and subsequently meaningless. Don't fall for that one! The one doesn't follow the other.
A young person who hears the Loser's opinions on this may think his mind is closed on this matter. It's not. However, as the Loser is now in the end of his sixth decade on Earth and nothing has convinced him to date, it would take a good argument to convince him. 
The Loser wishes you well in your search.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

The New Year, 2017

Queen Elizabeth II
Queen Elizabeth II.
The Complete and Total Loser spent the holidays feeling alone and useless, as always. He got out of all but one family gathering, one on Christmas Day, during which he drank too much and said a few things he later wished he hadn't, but nothing damaging.
The Loser finds that as he ages and extends holiday greetings and New Year's wishes to people his age, he tells them he hopes the coming year will be a good one for them. He's always said a variation of that but now he's increasing aware that these new years for him and his peers—people in their fifties nearing their sixties—may well be full of little more than the death of elderly loved ones and increasing health problems for them.
Meanwhile, the Loser waits for the newsflash that will tell him that England's queen has died. While no fan of the Royal Family, the Loser nonetheless has always liked her and it will be sad to see someone who has always been there wave her final goodbye.
The new year, 2017, will be a bad one. The question is only, how bad?

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Carrie Fisher 10/21/1956 — 12/27/2016

Carrie Fisher
Carrie Fisher.
If she hadn't been born into Hollywood royalty, if she'd been born in a mid-sized city in Massachusetts or Ohio, Carrie Fisher's death would likely have been marked by a relative few. 
But the Complete and Total Loser thinks she would have probably been a stellar citizen and good parent. A local leader active in her community. At this point of her life she may have headed up her book club, and would choose challenging novels and have insights into them that would benefit her fellow members.
This sounds like faint praise, but the Loser means it to be the opposite.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The last to die

mother and baby in doctor's office
A mother and her baby wait in doctor's office.
The Complete and Total Loser's aunt died yesterday. It was not a surprise: she turned one hundred years old in September. She was the oldest of five siblings, the Loser's mother being the youngest, and the last to die.
Her death solidifies the Loser's standing as the older generation in his family, even though just one cousin is younger than he is. He thinks of the thoughts and speculations he had of his mother and father's generation when he was young (What was it like to be twenty when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor? What did they think the year 2000 would be like? What diseases did they worry about? What was it like to have only radio and print to tell you about the world?) and wonders what his nieces and nephews think of his own generation. 
Actually, is unlikely they think much of him at all. He never married, had children or even had a long-term relationship and never had an interesting job. There are more interesting and successful people in the Loser's family tree for them to contemplate.