Tag Archives: syndrome

Guru Comic: False Equivalence

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Shout Abyss on America’s Got Talent

Image Source: National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse

I’ve been thinking a lot about my “talents” lately. America’s Got Talent has been running advertising about cities where you can go to audition. I have no idea what the audition process is like, but I’d love to go except for one wee little problem: I can’t identify my “talent.”

I’m assuming everyone has one. Even me. So what the hell is it?

I’ve been thinking about it and I do have some talents. One talent I have is sitting cross-legged. I can sit cross-legged all day. I’m pretty sure I can build a Las Vegas caliber show around that one.

Another talent is dice rolling. I’m sure 90 seconds of that would be riveting. If I make it past the audition I promise to keep bringing bigger and bigger dice. Roll them bones!

I have an incredible talent for getting cut off while driving. Try as I might, I can’t figure out a way to translate that to the big stage.

I think I sing pretty good, but only in the shower, and I’ve already done that this year (shower, I mean) so that’s out, too.

Getting strange cats to sit on my lap might work. I seem to be pretty good at that.

The only other thing I can think of that I’m good at is balancing the remote controls (all seven of them) on my belly. There are remotes for the TV, cable box, stereo, DVD player, ceiling fan, simulated fireplace, and even a super remote that tells the other remotes what to do. Yeah, this is undoubtedly probably the best of all my talents.

I mean, come on! I’ve got to have at least one watchable talent, right?

I do know one thing, though. Whatever my talent I’m going to probably need a little extra oomph to take my act through the succession of humiliations that AGT calls shows. And for that you need to have an ace up your sleeve. What might that be? Usually it takes the form of a compelling backstory that makes the judges and voting public think you are cuter than you really are and therefore they put you ahead of other more talented people.

The backstory has to be compelling. An element of drama is extremely helpful. Overcoming some condition that makes other people think “how in the hell can they still have a talent?” is also a plus. When all else fails rely on a medical condition.

Somehow, whatever it is, the backstory always comes out. Then we can hear the judges gush about what a “good person” the contestant is. No, it isn’t the talent that is good. It is the person, and it is because of the backstory.

I watched the highlights of the last season and in at least one case the judges asked the perfect lead-in question of Michael Grimm at his very first audition. Because of that lead-in we all knew from the first time we saw him he was doing it all for grandma and grandpa. Awwwwwwwwwwww!

Dammit! Yet another obstacle in my path! I don’t have a compelling backstory.

Or so I thought.

Then it occurred to me. I do have a personal tragedy I’ve overcome, still deal with every day, and I’ve turned around into a story of heartwarming triumph. It could be just the ticket to me achieving fame on AGT.

I’m talking about, of course, my trials with IBS, also known as Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Yes, I can’t wait to get on stage at AGT and talk about my trials with IBS. No doubt I’ll go far. At least as far as my bowels can take me!

“This means the world to me. Tonight I’m going to attempt something on stage that I’ve never done before. Also, there really isn’t any need to mention this, but my IBS is acting up. I don’t know if I’ll even be able to perform. But I really want to progress in this competition. This is my dream and I want this so bad. I hope America likes me. Tonight I’m going to attempt 8 remote controls on my belly at the same time. If things don’t go well I could be seriously injured or even killed. I know a lot of people with IBS are counting on me tonight and I want to be their inspiration. I want to be a role model for the IBS community.”

Stay tuned, stay tuned! You surely don’t want to miss me on TV!

Something gerbil this way comes

Since the dawn of time Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) has afflicted women around the world when the last of their younglings finally struck out on their own. Now recognized as a real condition by organizations like the American Psychology Association, symptoms can include feelings of loneliness, depression and grief.

But did you know there is a variant of this condition that has the potential to be even more heartbreaking and devastating? Sadly, as the first person to discover and classify this condition, I’m here to tell you that for me this wasn’t just another scientific discovery. I’m also personally afflicted.

I have dubbed the condition False Empty Nest Syndrome (FENS). Basically this condition is triggered when an expected period of ENS is interrupted, typically by a youngling who either fails to leave the nest as anticipated or returns to the nest unexpectedly after only a short period of time.

Incidentally, and I apologize in advance if this is too much scientific jargon, the term for a youngling that triggers onset of FENS is “gerbil.”

The common characteristics of the genus Modern American Gerbil are:

  • Typically a suburban male aged 21 or higher.
  • Voracious appetite with a particular fondness for food that belongs to others.
  • Usually a high school drop out who, in the intervening years, has invested little to no effort in working towards even a GED. (And also considers the word “college” to be base, vile and profane.)
  • Maintains an unusually-enhanced ability to mooch off others.
  • Common nutrition sources include beer, cigarettes, energy drinks (like Monster and Red Bull) and illegal drugs.
  • Lives in a space (a room, a corner of floor within a room, or even a sofa or comfy chair) that becomes tainted and has a smell similar to the inside of an overly used sweat-sock.
  • Can often go undetected for weeks leaving only telltale signs like empty containers of peanut butter and showing up unexpectedly at inopportune moments (like when you are naked).

Some gerbil behaviors can be fascinating. One in particular is deserving of extra examination. I call it The Deuce Run. This behavior usually happens when you haven’t seen the gerbil for a few days. The gerbil will show up, grunt some form of one-word greeting, then secrete itself in the nearest lavatory. At the conclusion of the visit, the gerbil will immediately depart, often completely undetected. In fact, in many cases, the only evidence of a gerbil visit during a deuce run will be the olfactory spore that lingers behind.

Please check back often for continuing coverage of FENS and the mysterious gerbil in this multi-part journal as I press on with my research.