Recently I heard two women going on and on about how men don’t seem to know what pain really is unless they have suffered the pain of childbirth, cramps…and a bikini wax.
At that I asked if either of them have ever gotten unspeakable parts of themselves caught in a zipper.
And that’s life, isn’t it?
We all qualify pain in one way or another. One person’s pain could be another person’s pleasure. Or, as the Marquis de Sade wrote: It is always by way of pain that one arrives at pleasure.
And, of course, as has been uttered throughout the ages: The worst pain a man can suffer is to have insight into much and power over nothing.
But no matter how unpleasurable it may be, no pain, no gain. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
And the other day it was hollering at me as I happened to strike up a conversation with a British woman in a coffee house. We were mining each other’s business. Turns out she got her Ph.D. in Biology in London. Her expertise is pain research. Works for a research lab in Boston.
The conversation was half flirtatious and 100 percent seductive until she got to the part about how complicated the body is.
I mean, if geeks and nerds like my brother – Dr. Brian L. Strunk — can be considered one of the top interventional cardiologists in the country just how difficult, if not complicated, can the body be to understand? Obviously he’s come a long ways from his nose picking days growing up in our attic room.
So this biologist named Audrey related – now you’ve got to understand that this is a young beauty with brains I’m talking with – that she was working recently with a man who was seriously wounded and bleeding profusely from the underside of his left arm above the elbow.
And he didn’t know it. He didn’t feel anything. Much like when my ex fled screaming naked back to her old lover in Appalachia. I didn’t feel anything – except much better.
But this guy fell into the arena of complicated biological issues. Now if I understood her correctly – remember, guys only pretend to listen until things get going in the right direction – this wounded case study of hers turned out to have one of those esoteric protein shortages.
And with the protein imbalance, some parts of his body were inhibited from transmitting signals to the part of the brain that shrieks: “Ouch! That hurts worst than alimony!”
So there we sat after her 25-minute thesis: Her looking at me with that British wide-eyed ecstasy of intelligence and noblesse oblige. And me faking my mouth was too full with coffee to talk.
Hmm… I mean the only thing I had left to impress this beauty was to resort to my stupid, dumb bar tricks. Parlor games, as they call them across the pond.
But then I imagined my combing her long chestnut hair with my stubby fingers. So I began wagging my index finger in the distance between us. A cascading thought began showering down.
“You know,” I said, “there are some frightening possibilities in what you just told me.”
Wow… do I know how to work a manure spreader, or what? She knit her eyebrows. Then tilted her lovely head like a fox terrier. I love ‘em when they have yet to learn that innocence – if not ignorance — is the root and stem of all evil.
So I continued to push the envelope: “As you continue to pursue and publish your treatises on pain, and pain avoidance, one day there will come a knock on your door. It could either be in the dark or the broad daylight. It doesn’t matter. It will be a man dressed disarmingly professional…
“He will pose a problem to you no more or less disreputable than in Vonnegut’s ‘Cat’s Cradle.’ That led to the scientist developing a freezing compound, Ice Nine, for the Marine Colonel’s wish that his soldiers should no longer have to fight in mud.
“This gentleman could possibly appeal to your sense of patriotism and duty to America and England. That it is too bad our soldiers have to fight and die in such pain. Especially when their sense of feeling pain could be eliminated before they even went into battle.
“He will emphasize, like Julius Caesar, that it is easier to find men who will volunteer to die than men who are willing to endure pain with patience. For we know that it isn’t death or pain that is dreaded, but the fear of death or pain. And with that eliminated, they could fight to their ultimate potential without interference…”
My new friend seemed even more horrified.
“That would never happen,” she said. “People don’t think like that.”
Hmm….Talk about falling off the turnip wagon.
“And why not?” I pondered. “Was the splitting of the atom pursued to decimate Hiroshima? Was drone technology developed to destroy villages in Afghanistan?” I chuckled before adding: “Hell was Rogaine developed with the aim of stimulating hair growth?
“Of course not. Most things are not direct cause and effect. Evolution is not direct: it’s more like a bush. Revenge is not a straight line: it’s more of a forest. No one even knows why Lithium works after all these thousands of year. We just know that even the Roman soldiers felt better after a few days of sleeping by the lithium mines and drinking the water.”
My-my-my….I can sound so erudite when I am sitting across a younger, more beautiful, inviting and intelligent version of Margaret Thatcher.
“That’s not going to happen,” she said. “Never…”
“I just do research.”
“And I just do words. But don’t you think that somewhere between your research and my words that evil lurks? It’s a sin to believe evil of others, darling, but it is seldom a mistake. And I’ve learned that sometimes evil comes in packages as good looking as you.”
“I’ll have to be careful, won’t I,” she said, hesitantly.
“You won’t even know it’s coming until it’s already left the building.”
She stirred the evil brew about in her wonderful mind. She stared this way and that way, but not my way.
Finally, she asked, most properly: “Would it be presumptuous of me to invite the pleasure of your company to dine with me tonight?”
“Would that be to secure pleasure or avoid pain?” I wondered.
She smiled through those unaffected lips: “Pleasure costs twice as much.”
“It always does, darling. In one way or another, pleasure always becomes expensive… and painful.”
Just take my exes, please…
And dats yDrewIS on DIS penal colony.