"Face To Face With Death And Wishing I Had Brushed My Teeth"
By John Saleeby
February 1 , 2011
I had Pneumonia in my lungs and wound up spending three days in the Hospital. Acid Logic Editor Wil Forbis suggested that my experience might provide amusing comic entertainment for his web site and, although that had crossed my mind, I was concerned that writing that kind of thing might permamently bring me into the ranks of The Cranky Old Men Of Humor Writing like Andy Rooney, Lewis Grizzard, and whatever god damned old fool is ranting about that crazy Lady Gaga in the Sunday Paper next to the Horoscopes. But then I remembered that I was going to have my Fiftieth Birthday in less than a month so . . .
The most aggravating thing about being in the Hospital is that, everytime you manage to get used to the fact that you are going to die in a few hours some very nice black lady comes in and says something like "MISTER SALEEBY! I hate to bother you, but what is your Social Security Number?" or "MISTER SALEEBY! I hate to bother you, but what is your middle name?" or "MISTER SALEEBY! I hate to bother you, but who did you like more - Nirvana or Guns N' Roses?". Not that I am complaining about the very nice black ladies - If one walked in here right now I'd have someone to clean up my apartment - but when a man is so sick he is convinced that he is going to die in a few hours you should really come up with something a bit more substantial to occupy his final moments than low level employees trying to wrap up all their paper work so they can go to the Break Room and watch Oprah.
"MISTER SALEEBY! I hate to bother you, but - Just in case you die while I'm in the Break Room watching Oprah - What are your Final Words?"
"Uh . . . You ever heard of a guy named Oscar Wilde?"
"He the man on 'The Odd Couple'? The Sports Writer?"
"So what's them Last Words?"
"Either that wall paper goes or I do!"
"What? Oh! Mister Saleeby! You CRAZY!"
"Kineesha! You gotta hear this!"
It was pretty bad. I could actually feel the Presence of the Black Hooded Skeletal Spirit bearing that wooden stick with the weird blade on it . . .
"Hey, Death, what do you call that thing?
"This? I dunno."
"You aren't going to cut me with it, are you?"
"Oh, no no no . . . I just carry it around because people in the Middle Ages thought it was scarey."
"Soon as I get the paper work processed I'm gonna carry an Uzi. Maybe a Glock!"
"MISTER DEATH! I hate to bother you, but if you were one of the Marx Brothers which one would you be?"
"Uh . . . Harpo, I guess. Yeah, Harpo."
"Harpo . . . Thank you!"
Yeah, it got pretty grim for a while there. I could do the parody of Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" we did (We played Jacks instead of Chess) but I don't want to bum you out too much. My memories of my stay in the Hospital are a little blurry because, in a addition to dying of Pneumonia, I was also doped up on Cough Syrup containing CODEINE!!! Yeah, the really Good Stuff that Today's Number One Hot Happening Hip Hop Star Lil' Wayne is always drinking mixed up with Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch! So at least that was kind of fun, right? Well, no. But please continue reading. Codeine Cough Syrup is certainly The Nectar Of The Gods when you're a Bad Ass Rappin' Superstar in your Twenties but when you're a Broken Down Unsuccessful Comedy Writer Who's Just Died Of Pneumonia At The Age Of Fifty it's barely enough to keep you from turning into a Zombie and eating a few very nice black ladies. There I was all Corpsed Up With No Place To Go and I was so drugged out on Codeine I was watching reruns of "King Of Queens" and hoping for an episode where the Wife is kind of cute. You would think I would have been staggering up and down the hallway growling at people and trying to take a chomp out of somebody but that Codeine had me just lying there laughing and giggling at "King Of Queens" like some king of damn fool who had never even caught Pneumonia much less died of it. Now that I was Dead I was especially tickled by Patton Oswalt as Spence, The Loveable Little Fat Guy Who Hasn't Realized That He's Gay Yet. George Romero should make a Zombie Movie Starring Patton Oswalt as A Loveable Little Fat Guy Who Hasn't Realized That He's Dead Yet. I wonder if Lil' Wayne is into Patton Oswalt on "King Of Queens", too? But he's not dead so all that Codeine has him doing something more Pro Active like getting stupid tattoos all over his face. What? Hey, I'm DEAD! At least I'm not staggering around trying to take a CHOMP outta somebody! Shit! Maybe now that I'm Dead and making The Codeine Scene I'll write a "King Of Queens" spec script where Spence starts drinking Codeine Cough Syrup with Fruit Juicy Red Hawaiian Punch and gets stupid tattoos all over his face. That would be HILARIOUS! And then he realizes that he's dead. And then he realizes that he's gay. Whatta premise! Oh, but they're not doing "King Of Queens" anymore, are they? That's okay, now that I'm Dead I'm not doing John Saleeby anymore.
Eh, what the hell, there's about an inch and a half of Codeine Cough Syrup left in the bottle. What's the point in being so Health Conscious when you're already Dead - I'm just gonna chug it all down and write up an article for Acid Logic real quick. . . Glug glug glug . . . Missus Boogers, I need to dictate a letter! To Wil Forbis, Acid Logic.com, London, England! Mister Forbis - Yes, I know that you and your shabby web site are hiding from me in London! I know that you have cause there's Magic in my eyes! I can see for miles and miles and miles! Oohh, yeah! How? Because I am DEAD and I am looking down at you from Heaven. Which is quite an improvement from looking down my nose at you like I ususally do which is probably how I caught Pneumonia in the first place. Yes, Pneumonia, the P is silent but you can smell it. Ha ha ha! That is my article for the next issue. If it is too short just throw in a few hundred of those silent Ps and at least they'll be easier to listen to than the Black Eyed Peas. No, you can't use that in the article. I've already agreed that Patton Oswalt can have that tattooed onto his face. Hey, have I drunk too much of that damn Codeine Cough Syrup or is Today's Hot Happening Hip Hop Star Lil' Wayne right here for a Super Celebrity Guest Appearance?
"Don't be nervous, Mister Dead White Man, just read your lines off of my face and we'll have a regular 'Living Color' going on here!"
"Hey! How about a nice Hawaiian Punch?"
Lil' Wayne punches Saleeby on the nose.
"Is that any way to treat a dead man?"
"Oh, you're not dead. You've just been sick!"
"What do you mean 'just been sick'? I had Pneumonia!"
"Yeah yeah yeah, ya big cry baby! You think that was bad, try going to prison for some trumped up gun charge!"
"I bet that sucks . . . Hey! An email from Wil Forbis!"
"I hear he's a nice guy."
"What's he say?"
"Stop talking, you're moving your face around and I can't read the email off of it."
"'Saleeby, Forget the article about you in the Hospital. I'd rather do an article with Lil' Wayne about when he was in jail. You really ought to give being Dead a thought. Let Wayne drink the rest of your cough syrup and just lay down and rot away. Don't worry about the smell, you've always been rotten-ish. You Suck, Wil Forbis, Acid Logic.com, Paris, France.'"
"Wow! I really had all that tatooed onto my face?"
"Yeah, and you looked like a goddam idiot."
JOHN K SALEEBY, JR. 1961 - 2011 ALL I EVER WANTED WAS FOR YOU TO KNOW THAT I CARE
John Saleeby wrote for The National Lampoon while he was in high school, was a stand up comic in New York, and has contributed to the net humor zines Schmuck.com, Campaign Central, and the legendary American Jerk. He's on medication now so he's probably a little nicer now than he was when you met him earlier.
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org