Because they know that the Middle Passage to Cancerland takes a toll on those who are forced to make it, the Overseers here are at pains to keep track of how those in their charge are faring. This involves a weekly meeting, during which Whitecoats with clipboards run through the dire possibilities.
Loss of feeling in the fingertips or toes?
Loss of weight, hair, hearing?
Stock market losses?
Loss of house keys, credit cards, faith?
From time to time, possibilities never broached before suddenly appear on the list.
Loss of interest in French cinema?
Spontaneous ability to play the piano?
Sexual urges of a bestial nature?
I should say here that the deficits and malfunctions being kept track off in the weekly inventory-taking are not caused only by the abduction to Cancerland itself but also by the compounds, nostrums, potions and specifics with which Cancerlanders are dosed after they arrive. Needless to say, these treatments are all supposed to improve the Cancerlander’s lot. But often enough, they have the paradoxical effect of making things better in one area, but worse in another. The weekly howzitgoin interview is meant to parse the effects, desireable and otherwise, of the treatments.
Has your nose grown larger or smaller?
Have you discovered that you speak Polish?
On any given day last week, did you wake up a Republican?
Have you either begun or stopped wetting your bed?
How many fingers am I holding up?
Who was president before Sarah Palin?
If it is discovered that one of the potions being administered is having a deleterious effect, that potion is not removed from the regimen. Rather, another potion is added to counteract the unwanted side-effect of the first potion. But the new drug too can cause side-effects of its own, and so the checklist grows longer and longer.
Thoughts about surgically changing your gender?
Are you now strictly kosher?
Thanks to a change in my treatment regimen, I am happy to report that I no longer speak Polish.
But I hadn’t noticed before the cat I’ve had for a long, long time is actually quite, uh…sultry, in a Lauren Bacall sort of way.