Sunday, March 23, 2014

Of Blues and Blips and Feeling Lax, of Galaxies and Strings

Years ago, a good friend described old age as the time when you finally know all the answers, but nobody asks you the questions. We were in our mid-thirties at the time, so we naturally had a big yuck over that one. Having recently shown my ID to crash the Medicare party so I could track down the Social Security maven in the next room, I can say with relative certainty that we had it wrong.

It's not that no one ever asks the questions, it's that outside the health care system and people running for public office, no one pays much attention to you upon admission to your dotage. That's not new, though. Few ever did really give a shit about you, save for your creditors, and fewer still ever give much thought to questions demanding serious answers, unless someone can figure out how to attach an invoice.

These thoughts and more banged around my brain like ball bearings in a coffee can this morning as I underwent an MRI. I've always kind of wanted to have an MRI. Professional baseball players get to have them all the time, so why not me? True, it's been some time since I was concussed or my rotator got cuffed, but MRI machines weren't invented when that kind of stuff happened to me, so I should get a do-over.

I mean, I don't want it to snow on my birthday. Today isn't my birthday, but it is snowing outside, so I'm half right, and therefore, I should get to have an MRI. The health care system was ahead of me on this one and ordered one up. Believe me, when you've got Medicare in one hip pocket and a supplement plan in the other, the health care system sees you as a walking mark: We've got the widget, Idjit, if you've got the dime. And a head to look inside of.
Who am I, anyway?
Ever since I learned of the existence of tetragametic chimeras, I've been convinced that I was one. It's not just that my DNA seems totally different than my parents'. It's more that I'm never the same person day in and day out, as though I were really two people fused into one organism. There are times when I even think in non sequiturs, as though two different streams of consciousness unfold simultaneously. One day I'd decide to become a poet, the next a county commissioner. With an MRI, I felt certain my vexatious twin could be exposed once and for all.

Walk into the cold glare of the MRI room, and all you can think of is a Star Wars storm trooper when you see the machine. You lie down, your head in the bottom half of a helmet, and the tech fits the other half over your face before sliding you into the storm trooper's throat. For the next thirty minutes, you feel as though you've either been pitched into a garage of guys having a pneumatic drill contest, or you've been dropped into a jackhammer convention.

Your thoughts, at that point become a billboard instead of a backdrop to your consciousness, so I began ruminating on the recent discovery of cosmic radiation from the Big Bang nearly 14 billion years ago. Inflation. Uniform universe. And most of all, the door opening to multiverses. So cool, that.

My chimeratic twin spoiled everything by suggesting that my thoughts were not only being monitored, but recorded, probably by the NSA. That was rather mortifying: In the course of imagining multiverses, I also began imagining and fantasizing different courses my life could have taken, because suddenly, infinite possibilities make anything possible. I didn't want the NSA to record that stuff.

I foiled the NSA by shutting down my musings and instead, I imagined porn movies for the spooks to record. This was harder than I thought it would be, because I couldn't conjure clear images of real people having sex. The best I cold do was something between stick figures and pastiche zombies fucking their brains out, which should have been sufficient to get a spy fired when the images appeared on his government-issued computer screen.
Take that, Edward Snowden

The tech's voice interrupted my crippling of the NSA's plans, telling me there were four minutes left. To hold her accountable, I decided to count to 240, first from one to sixty two times, then from sixty backward to one, and then alternating 10-second segments of forward and backward counting. She finished right on the money.

Speaking of which, a $305-co-pay was collected, which sort of brings this post full circle. It will be a full week before I find out if my evil twin has been discovered, or, in the brave new world of multiverses and possibilities, if I'm the one who will be outed.

Whether or not that's the answer, it will have to do.