“So I have this rash…” has been a great icebreaker for the past few weeks when talking to friends, colleagues, and strangers at the bus stop. I’ve grown tired of talking and hearing about the weather, especially when the subject is broached while outside:
Stranger: It sure is cold out here. (hands tucked up in arm pits, shivers while waiting for me to agree with statement of obvious).
Me: (wearing puffy snow suit, scarf, and ear muffs) Really, I hadn’t notice.
Stranger: It’s supposed to get even colder the next few days.
Me: So I have this rash…
Stranger: (suddenly uncomfortable and at a loss of words, relieved by emergence of bus) Well here’s our chariot.
Me: Do you mind if we sit together? I would love to tell you all about my rash…
Despite the past couple thousand years of evolving, assuming you buy into Darwin’s theory, our species has yet to find a solution to deal with uncomfortable encounters with strangers in small, compact spaces. We tried silence, but that merely created a new problem that needed to be dealt with: repressed tension.
To deal with this, some sadistic bastard created Muzak – faux music which strips the soul out of its original recording to keep compliant with current copyright laws. As is the case with most innocuous inventions and discoveries (e.g. splitting of atom), Muzak was used for evil purposes. Muzak, for example, when not used to extract vital information from detainees at Guantanamo Bay, is pumped into elevators to sedate unsuspecting guinea pigs as a means of keeping us from turning on each other in a raging fit of uncomfortable silence.
For the most part it worked. How often do you see random acts of Elevator Rage splashed across newspaper headlines?
“Breaking: 13 Killed in Elevator Rage Incident, While Going Up”
Site of deadly episode of Elevator Rage allegedly spawned by Muzak version of “Rage Against the Machine” song
But I digress, dear Reader.
So I have this rash…and what better way to celebrate a full-body rash and the 200th birthday of Charles Darwin than a trip to the dermatologist, eh?
That’s where I was headed when I met up with the reluctant Stranger at the bus stop. My conversation-starter didn’t quite seduce the gentleman at the bus stop, who upon boarding, bolted to the only open seat in the back of the bus. I sat up front, feeling what the lepers must have felt when the Christians relegated them to the lazar section of the bus — named after Lazarus, patron saint of lepers and public transportation.
“Viva la Lazarus!”
Now, I’m willing to bet a pound of dead skin that nobody starts off in the medical profession by openly admitting: “I’ve always dreamt that of one day I will become a dermatologist.”
I’m guessing that dermatology is one of those fallback occupations in the medical field – should you not make the final cut for one of your top choices – brain or plastic surgeon (depending on what you’re more attracted to).
When I was plugging away on my undergraduate degree in Open Major at the University of Iowa, the fall back major was Communication Studies. Nobody started off on this track, but after partying leap-frogged academics on the priority list, this is where a lot of people were derailed, including my roommate, who later dropped out altogether. He was quick to rationalize his fall from academic grace, citing Tom Brokaw as his poster-boy for success:
“Brokaw flunked out of Communications at Iowa, and look at him now.”
True, Brokaw did drop out of UI, where he says he majored in “beer and co-eds,” but I was quick to remind my roommate that he also finished his degree at the University of South Dakota, not to mention his nabbed 17 honorary degrees without having dropped a single dime for tuition.
Instead of minoring in Beer & Co-eds, maybe I should have double-majored, so I would have had something to fall back on in case my Open Major didn’t pan out.
So you’re probably wondering what all this has to do with my rash, huh?
Which leads to why I found myself sitting in the dermatologist’s office with a rash that had consumed most of my body, thinking about Darwin and evolution theory. The walls in the waiting room and the examination rooms were covered with photographs of underwater sea creatures. I tried to figure out a possible motif linking these creatures to dermatology when it dawned on me that they breathe through their skin. Skin is their essence.
I suspected my rash was an allergic reaction to laundry detergent. Thanks to the recent downturn in the economy, I’ve had to alter my normal shopping habits. Normally, when the economy is on the upswing and I’m poor but not dirt poor, I tend to buy the second-to-cheapest product on the brand chain. Not only does this help feed the illusion that I’m not a bottom feeder, but I found the thought of playing Consumer Russian Roulette exhilarating as well.
That said, I purchased the cheapest laundry detergent on the shelf.
Bang! I lost.
My dermatologist, who I suspected dreamt of a life in plastic surgery before his Darwinian fall from grace, confirmed my suspicions. His diagnosis: an allergic reaction to cheap shit.
The cure: a steady dosage of Prednisone and a 12-step program to break my addiction to cheap shit.
Speaking of Darwin, I realize there are still skeptics out there who don’t buy into his theories on evolution, but clearly none of these naysayers saw how my rash evolved on my body. It started off as a small colony on my forearms before spawning sub-colonies that spread up my arms that eventually descended down to my ankles, where they set up temporary shop.
Sure, the Creationists will argue that my spreading rash is all part of the Creator’s master plan to keep me from buying cheap crap, but I turned to a more reputable source for guidance: The Flying Spaghetti Monster of the Church of FSM.
For whatever reason, I find the Almighty FSM’s beliefs easier to swallow.
Thank Darwin for that.
(Update: T.M. Lindsey is currently rash-free and would like to thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster’s creations for creating non-generic Prednisone. Let it be noted that T.M. is also enjoying the uptick side-effects of Prednisone and has gone five days without purchasing cheap, toxin-filled products; although thanks to the former he has yet to enjoy taking the latter.)