Fool’s Gold: Back to My Future

March 09, 2015


I have taken a real liking to myself. That’s why I am thankful for throwing out my back, despite depending on others to tie my shoes.

The pain is really not so horrible; it can’t be much worse than a shark bite, or getting run over by a garbage truck. It’ll get better. Either that, or it’ll kill me.

Just kidding! That’s what we back-pain survivors call “sciatic humor,” which is intentionally not at all funny because laughing sets our recovery back another two to ten years. Same goes for sneezing, breathing, running a marathon, swallowing a drink of water, and blinking. We basically try not to do anything, ever.

Now please do not think that I am weak, or that I fail to care for my back precisely the way WebMD says I should. Quite the contrary! I am taking the long view of my health. By throwing out my back now, at the ripe young age of it’s none of your beeswax, I am investigating the waters of old-person matrimony BEFORE getting married.

Far too many people litter their first, second, and third wedding vows with the untested phrase “in sickness and in health.” At the age most people are when they are young, “sickness” means nothing more than “I drank too many Duck Farts last night.” And even after worshipping a trash can at four in the morning, youthful lovers may still want to see each other naked again someday.

But your maladies aren’t so sympathetic once you start to shrivel. No more chicken soup and Sprite for you! Unless you have a True Love to defend you, the ones you begot will solemnly commit you to your own coffin-sized patch where they can visit you once a month until they forget about you.

And that’s just your post as a megastore greeter! You’ll stand there for the rest of your life, waving vaguely at anyone who might be a relative—it’s tough to tell when they’re all backlit by the entrance—and making everyone feel shame for not taking you home.

My point is, no one ever buys the mushy banana. That’s why I’m conducting intensive field research to determine just how much tenderheartedness, patience, compassion, and medication my Darling Fiancée will offer me when I’m old—all while my produce is still fresh.

I’ve modeled my study after Jane Goodall’s famous field work. Which is not to belittle the Darling Fiancée—human women are far more complex in their subtle subtextual communication than your average chimpanzee.

Take, for instance, jeans saleswomen. I have never dealt with one personally, since I strive to buy new clothing about as frequently as Green Party members win national elections. But I have often held the Darling Fiancée’s purse while she tours the Wide World of Affordable Fashion. This gives me ample opportunity to observe the subtextual communication tactics of the saleswomen, which boil down to: “HE can’t tell you those jeans are baggy in the crotch, but I can, and you’ll pay me commission to say it!”

The Darling Fiancée can slap on ten, fifteen pairs of pants faster than a pit crew. This is incidentally a big part of why I’m marrying her, pending the results of my current field research. Right now, I can’t even put on pants by myself.

I would gladly live my entire life without pants. But Some People insist on draconian standards whereby a free citizenry, incapacitated or not, must cram itself into trousers before leaving the house, even if the trousers are unflattering yoga pants.

Not to brag, but our pants-donning teamwork highlights the foundation of our bliss. Working together, we conquer any problem with honest communication and empathy. We are an unstoppable duo!

And then we get in the car.

Since one of us is injured and cannot drive, one of us thinks it is not unreasonable to wince over every crack in the pavement, or to grit one’s teeth when the other one of us stops too quickly all the time, or to suggest that women ought to have their drivers licenses revoked until such time as men no longer exist. The Darling Fiancée thinks it’s just the sciatic humor talking; I do not correct her, because I cannot outrun her.

That she proves so capable of tolerating me under duress gives me faith that she will tackle all of my big health issues with the same sangfroid. Like buying the tissues without lotion, cleaning the mustard out of my feeding tube, and holding my hand as I take the Last Big Journey.

If my Last Big Journey ends at Walmart, I swear I will greet everyone with the finger.


(Skeletal nerves image by Shaheen Lakhan,  Walmart sign by Mike Mozart / CC)

This piece was written by:

Zach Hively's photo

Zach Hively

Zach Hively is the brilliance behind Fool’s Gold, the weekly column. He contributes regularly to the Durango Telegraph, and he is also a fiction writer, craft beer blogger, and work-for-hire editor. If you have nuggets to share, tweet @ZachHively or visit

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