I wanna write Another Thousand Words for the three or four of you before the drugs they gave me wear off. I’m in limbo right now, a place I’ve been many times, just usually not in the middle of the day writing a blog.
Yes, the colonoscopy is over. And so is the ENG or whatever they call it. I don’t remember a thing. It was, if you can say this about a procedure in which they stick metal up your backside, a truly enjoyable experience. I had it done at Franciscan Dyer, which has a great view of Illinois.
This is important because in the discussion with the doctor after the procedures he repeated previous dictums – “You lived a debaucherous life at the Board of Trade. You have to finally change your lifestyle. Just do it.”
This doctor, as he’s told me before, knows a number of former pit traders.
“You guys are all the same. You drank too much, ate a ton of rich food, had too much stress, and you don’t take care of your bodies. Take care of your body.”
I can accept that. It’s why, 13 years ago, that I left My Trading Life to start a new life, My Radio Life. I had gone into my doctor, whom I’m related to and who knows my wife and kids well. He was my lab partner in high school. He walked in the exam room, sat down, and without talking scribbled on some charts (they used paper back then). Then he said something that changed my life.
“You’re 40 now. If you wanna see 50, stop trading.” And he walked out.
He didn’t need to explain the prophesy. I know what stress and debauchery can do to your body. I could feel it in my gut when I lost a ton of money and I could feel it after the inevitable celebrations that came after making a ton of money. After a while your body breaks down. You have to manage stress.
So I had an idea. There I was on the third floor of Franciscan Dyer (don’t call it “Mercy Hospital” or new CEO Pat Maloney will have a conniption)… and I’m looking at route 30. There was this fully blossomed flower tree in front of the window… and beyond that, Illinois. Franciscan Dyer is that close to the Land of Lincoln.
“Reduce your stress. Eat better. Drink less. Exercise. You know what you need to do.” And then, like my doctor 15 years ago, he walked out.
I sat there contemplating this recurring medical wisdom. I don’t like it now as much as I didn’t like it then. So, looking out at all of the cars crossing from Indiana to Illinois on route 30, I came up with an idea. I shared it with the nurse.
“You know,” I told her. “I just thought of something that would catapult me along a trajectory toward less stress.”
“What is it?”
The nurse fiddled with the heart monitor and folded some sheets.
“You live in Indiana, right?”
“Well,” she said, “you may want to consider relocating over there to start having that conversation.”
And she pointed out the window past the flowering tree to where route 30 turns from the west to the north. That’s where Illinois starts.
Illinois, you see, just passed medicinal marijuana. In Indiana, you can still wind up sitting in a cell next to Bubba for dabbling in weed.
Now, as the three or four of you know, I sometimes do half my show hating on Illinois people. And then they call in and hate on Indiana people. A guy named Shane from Lynwood, Ill., called in yesterday to say that Indiana people drive too slow and never clean their windshields. A woman from Crete, Ill., said Hoosiers don’t bathe. It’s good state line talk radio.
So I’m not moving to Illinois any time soon. But, since all lessons in life can play out on talk radio, there is another possibility. It has to do with caller “John,” at least that’s what he says his name is.
John calls me every couple of weeks to talk about some topic or another. One time he berated us for covering too much girls sports.
“I got six sisters. I’m tired of hearing about girls sports. It’s inferior competition. They can’t even dunk, for crissake.”
There’s always a whoosh of background noise in the background when John calls. So one day I asked – “Dude, what is that noise. You in a wind tunnel?”
“No. I’m driving. With the window open.”
“Where you driving to?”
“Michigan. It’s where I live.”
“Where in Michigan?”
“Right over the border.”
Now John sounds like one of us. He speaks with a twang that lets you know he came from the industrial environs known as the Calumet Region. We are a hearty bunch, where just about everything, including our history and our way of speaking, traces back to the steel mills and refineries and chemical plants along Lake Michigan.
“Did you marry a Michigan gal?” I asked him.
“Do you work there?”
“No. Actually, I work near your radio station.”
“Then why in the hell do you drive an hour to Michigan every day?”
He hesitated. And with the next thing he said, it all started to make sense.
“In Michigan, I can get a card.”
Bingo. This Region Rat moved across the border to Michigan so he could “get a card” to smoke marijuana. It doesn’t matter what his malady is. He can dance with Mary Jane without ever having to look “in his rearview mirror seeing a PO-lice car.”
You see where I’m going with this. My doctor tells me I have to cut down on drinking. That is a tall order. I am made to put my feet on a brass rail. I started doing it in Gary when I was 15 working construction. And I’ve been doing it since. It’s not the same when you can only down two or three Coors Lights in one sitting.
But imagine how much less stress I would have if I could “get a card.” Not that I would walk around high all the time. Those days are long gone. And it’s not like I want to smoke weed illegally in Indiana. I come from a day when all of the weed made you paranoid. Now, they say, they’ve biologically engineered the paranoia out of the buds. But I don’t believe it.
… Illnois or Michigan. Those are my choices. It made a lot more sense when I started to write this for you three or four. But now that the anesthesia has worn off, it doesn’t make nearly as much sense. Plus, my backside’s starting to ache. It’s not a piercing pain. It’s more like I accidentally sat on the dog’s tennis ball. Another Thousand Words. Talk to you later.