Monday, April 11, 2005

Lyndon Larouche: Heartless-jerk-by-proxy

I hate being sick.

I hate being sick with a burning fury I usually reserve for Nazis, terrorists, a certain Sports copy chief and my ex-fiancee's douchebag of a father.

(And Mom, it's not swearing if it's truth. The guy is a douchebag, and we both know it, even if you'd never say it quite so, um, colorfully.)

I've got a cold or something, and a sinus headache to beat the band.

The funny thing is, when I was in college, and my parents were paying a small fortune for me to be there, I'd skip class all the time when I was sick. Now that I'm an adult, and my company will pay me to stay home if I'm sick, I hardly ever call out.

I've taken maybe six sick days in nine years of work. The last time I called in sick (with the worst headache of my life!), I got a text from a friend/co-worker asking if I was faking, she was so surprised I was out.

Being injured is something else - being injured offers the "red badge of courage." I can tell people after my last soccer game, my teammates carried me off the field.

And straight to the emergency room.

I can't call in sick this week, though, because one of my co-workers is on vacation, and there's only three of us, so I gotta show. And that's OK, because I'm the kind to fight through it - or, if you think about it, the kind who gets his co-workers sick, rather than staying home. But that's fair, because most of the time when I get sick, I catch it from someone at work.

So now I'm a Business copy editor with a cold. Ick.

That title's kind of for ick, too, isn't it?

I've got a friend who calls herself on her Web site a "visual journalist." That sounds so much cooler than "Business copy editor," but hey.

(By the way, if you're a newspaper recruiter, last I checked, she's looking for work, and not only is she excellent and talented, she's way cool. And she's got a good name: Erica. Funny story, we played softball together, and I was playing second and she was playing short field and somebody hit a pop-up into short right, and I'm going back, running full-tilt, looking over my shoulder, and my teammates are yelling "Eric, uh, Eric!" and I'm booking, figuring they're telling me to go for it, and that's when I realize they're not yelling "Eric, uh..." they're yelling "Erica!" So I managed to stop my momentum-heavy 200 pounds just short of one of my patented headhunter-shoulder-to-chin body checks. And she missed the ball. But, she tells me her sport is tennis, and I played tennis back in school, and hell, I can't catch pop-ups, either.)

I've wandered pretty far afield from the subject line, haven't I?

Well, I'm going to close with a story about Lyndon LaRouche, former presidential candidate.

Strictly for your amusement. Laughter, after all, is the best medicine.

It's not really about Lyndon LaRouche, it's about one of his representatives. But here goes.

When I was a freshman in college, my grandmother died. (Trust me, the story gets better.) I was crushed, because not only was she my last grandparent, she was so full of love that I always felt like her favorite grandchild, even if my cousins could make the same claim. She died in Pennsylvania, but was to be buried in Florida, alongside Grandpa.

Unfortunately, the funeral was the day after my fraternity pledge test, an all-night affair that is a crucial step toward brotherhood. Fortunately, my brothers were understanding, especially my big, and they made sure I got a bit of sleep and was in a cab as soon as possible, on my way to the Pittsburgh airport.

But "as soon as possible" wound up being a close shave. I get in the cab at about 8 a.m. and I've got a 8:45 flight. And the airport's 45 minutes away. It's a $40 cab ride, plus tip, and I usually gave $10. This time I told the cabbie I had $60, and if he got me to the airport in time, it was all his.

(All times, by the way, are simulated for example purposes, if you think I remember the time of a flight 12 years ago, you're sicker than I am. Point is, it was early in the morning.)

He took me on roads out of the city I'd never been on before or since.

And got me to the airport at 8:40, God bless him.

Of course, my flight's at the farthest terminal from the entrance. Isn't that the way of the world?

So I'm doing an OJ Simpson through the airport - for those of you maybe a touch younger than me, that means I was running full-speed, hurdling baggage carts and old ladies, not that I was denying murdering my ex-wife. I wasn't even engaged, much less married, much less divorced. And short tempered I am, but not homicidal.


Well, thank goodness I was in shape back then, because I got to my gate at 8:50, ready to weep in frustration, only to find (thank you, Grandpa!) the flight was delayed 10 minutes.

So I made it, and off to Atlanta I went. There, because my flight out of Pittsburgh was late, I had to pull another OJ to get to my connection to Fort Lauderdale.

And there I am, booking through the Atlanta airport, wearing a black suit and hauling a carry-on, when I sprint past a table with a guy hawking Lyndon LaRouche for President, or for something else. This is 1993, so I'm not even sure why this LaRouche table is there. Maybe his supporters were trying to get him out of jail. Point is, it's a Lyndon LaRouche supporter.

And with the zeal of a hari krishna and the timing of a blizzard, he asks me if I'd like to know more about Lyndon LaRouche.

I said "no" without breaking stride.

And that's when I hear him say, behind me, "Well, I see some people don't have the open mind to consider other alternatives," or something along those lines.

Back then, I weighed about 165, so it was a lot easier to stop on a dime.

You can guess where this is going, can't you?

Remember that bit about being short tempered, but not homicidal?

Let's ratchet that up a bit, shall we?

And I whirled, with the rage of a mourning, immature, ill-tempered grandson, and let him have it, both barrels, at the top of my lungs.

"Listen, you asshole, I'm on my way to my grandmother's funeral! You want to say that again?"

Now everyone in the vicinity is looking, and I'm stalking him down, connecting flight be damned. Hell hath no fury like a boy who's just lost his last grandparent.

This dipshit actually ran.

I mean, he ran away. From his table full of fliers, his banner and everything.

My father (Grandma's son), in his heyday, was not only an outstanding educator, but the toughest grader and most intimidating professor in the Bloomsburg University English Department, and perhaps the world. He could silence an unruly frat boy with a glare.

Trust me, I was an unruly frat boy for four years.

(Remind me to tell you the story about my father, my senior year in high school and the freshman comp rotation.)

Now, I may not quite live up to my father's standards (in many ways), but that doesn't mean I can't aspire to that level of greatness.

And for that one, shining moment, I think I got a little of that family spirit.

Plus, despite my detour, I made my connection and got to Grandma's funeral on time. I cried like a baby, but I'd like to think that's OK.

Grandma was always so sweet, I don't know where Dad gets that scare factor from, and I sure as heck don't know how I get to show it from time to time, seeing as how I'm adopted.

As an adoptee, by the way, I have no medical history, which always makes things entertaining at the doctor.

And speaking of doctors, that brings us full circle. Did I mention I hate being sick?

Information about sinus headaches
Erica Wright, visual journalist and all-around cool chick
A reference to O.J.'s Hertz ads
Lyndon LaRouche's PAC, hopefully with better timing these days
Pittsburgh International Airport
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
The Bloomsburg U. English Department, safer if less interesting

By the way, these two fabled, stunning weekend updates will hopefully make up for the fact that you probably won't get one tomorrow (Monday) because, well, Uncle Sam wants his 1040, and my parents (who helped me buy my townhouse) want my refund. Yeah, tax time. And laundry day.