At the ripe old age of 25, I sat in the gown and bed of a sterile room as I recovered from kidney surgery. An I.V. was washing out what felt like a year of hangovers, adding moisture to the cotton farm someone planted in my mouth.
“Did…” I slurred the word, dragging the sentence up with effort, “did the doctor give me the new diet?”
“Yeah.” My dad looked at me, “He came in while you were still doped up. You have to quit eating anything with high fructose corn syrup.”
“B-but,” I struggled through the haze, “that’s everything.”
“It’s not everything you big baby,” my dad rolled his eyes, “you can still eat fruit and bread and whatever. At least now you have to eat like an adult.”
I shook my head slowly, confused, unsure.
“Your choice.” dad shrugged, “Change the diet or let them cut another forty stones out of your pisser. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m just the driver.”
“‘kay, ‘kay…alright. No more corn syrup” I waved off the lecture.
Weeks later. The doctor removes the stint. Clean bill of health.
“See my nurse on the way out,” he tells me, “she has the new diet plan you need to follow.”
“No worries there,” I told him, “my dad filled me in on what you said after the surgery. I got rid of everything with high fructose corn syrup. Cost me like four hundred dollars to replace all that crap, but it’s better than doing this again.”
My doctor stares at me.
“You didn’t talk to my dad after the surgery did you?”
“I’ve never even met your dad.”
My mom wouldn’t let me in the house. I wouldn’t put the rake down and dad wouldn’t quit laughing.
“But, it was funny!” he yelled to me through the cracked window.
“Huh?” I look up from my book.
“Did you tell our child that Santa Claus steals children that don’t leave out cookies?”
“And that he takes them to the North Pole to be raised by the elves until they’re fat enough to be fed to the reindeer?”
“It sounds vaguely familiar.”
“Because your son has spread butter and flour across our kitchen and is crying because we don’t have chocolate chips.”
“I can’t believe you.” She stalks out of our office.
“But it was funny!” I yell after her.