Side Effects

screenshot-2017-02-23-09-09-08I’ve long since grown accustomed to the mumbly, speed-spoken list of potential side effects rattled off at the tail end of Cialis TV commercials.  I find the droning words calming.  Hypnotic, even.  I stare numbly at the middle-aged virile man’s blue v-neck sweater fibers glowing in the sunlight. Find myself wondering why people have single-sized bathtubs.  With clawfeet.  On their front lawns. Overlooking a lake.  Holding hands.

In a dreamlike state, I wonder: “Am I missing out on something?  Do we need a couple skinny tubs?  Am I showering too much? Should I be able to see a body of freshwater from my bathroom? Where are their towels? Won’t they be chilled by the early evening air?” When I snap out of my gauzy reflections, I have a vague sense that those pills deliver up some truly unpleasant potential side effects.  But I can’t…seem…to…remember…any…details.  It’s as if those twin porcelain tubs at the water’s edge wiped my memory clean like Albert Finney’s Looker movie sunglasses. 

But a new medication from Walgreens yesterday commanded my full attention. The parade of horribles printed in the accompanying literature featured one malady new to me: Seeing or hearing things that are not there.

Say what? 

The linoleum floor at the end of Aisle 1 may as well have fallen completely away under my boots. I rushed towards the front door, squinting my eyes and cupping my ears.  Desperate to avoid imagined stimulus posed by the racks of chocolate Easter eggs and related Holiday paraphernalia.  Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a single Peep mustering a charge.  Attempting to break through its cellophane prison. Straining against its Peep brothers’ little shoulders. Grimacing from the effort, its tiny Peep brows furrowed.  The cardboard box rattled violently. I quickened my pace before all hell broke loose in there.

Stepping outside into the open air, I held my breath and waited for the Chestnut Street storefronts to fold in on themselves like the psychedelic Dr. Strange cityscapes. For a fleeting moment, it occurred to me that the Dr. Strange movie may have actually been just one long prescription drug warning. A cautionary tale, if you will. Approximately two-thirds of the potential side effects posed by the contents of my new pill bottle, I suddenly realized, had been represented in the film.  

I staggered to the Prius, coming to grips with my parental burden to drive home safely with my oblivious 5th grader reading “Big Nate” in the backseat.  At least I think it was my Prius.  At least I think it was my 5th grader.  At least I think he is in 5th grade.  And as for “Nate,” is that even his real name?  He doesn’t look all that big, after all, if you really think about it. 

Strapping myself in, I thought I heard some complaining from the backseat of my purported car, coming from the mouth of my purported 5th grader. Something about “What took so long in Walgreens?!” and “Where are my Peeps?!” and “WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TODAY?!” “These damned pills pack a punch,” I thought, since no actual child of mine would ever utter such words, or crave high fructose corn syrup, or speak to me that way.  “Has to be these meds,” I reassured myself.

Somehow, against all the odds, within a few minutes, I managed to arrive safely in our driveway.  At least I think this is our driveway.  “Everett” rolled out of the Prius nonchalantly, with “Big Nate” in-tow, and punched in the garage door code without hesitation.  So at least for now, it appears that I am safe.  Still operating within the constraints of reality.  But I have a bottle full of mind-bending pills, apparently, and the day has only just begun.  Wish me luck.

And thanks for reading. (Is anybody really out there, though??) 

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