I lost my funny bone in surgery

By Bob Huber: PNT columnist

If you’re a dinner party hostess who wants to save money on hors d’oeuvres so you can donate to the Martha Stewart Relief Fund, allow me to offer some help. I know a sure-fire way to curb appetites.

I’m talking about steering the dinner conversation into a detailed discussion of your latest surgery or at least the gruesome symptoms, whichever came first. These subject matters can actually conserve food if handled wisely.

I always dredge up the time I had surgery and lost my funny bone.

I remember asking a doctor about this unusual circumstance, which made him stop chanting and shaking his rattle to offer some vague anomalies about suppositories of the esophagus or some such Greek thing. He said not to worry, because the entire medical community, including a couple of hospital security guards, had forgiven me for screaming, yelping, and frantically patting down my bed sheets in a vain search for my funny bone.

My post-surgery reaction was justified. I’d heard horror stories about missing parts after surgery and items left inside patients such as scalpels, pocket watches, and soggy notes that said, “Nurse Jane, meet me at the Cozy Motel at 11 p.m.”

I was convinced my funny bone was part of that scenario. But I needed proof.

I thought perhaps all the tubes running in and out of my body might be a clue, because I found it impossible to see anything funny about them. Of course, someone had laced my Jell-O with Prosac or martinis, making it difficult to recall my name let alone anything humorous.

Still, I remained curious about my condition, so I asked a doctor what the little tubes were for. He said, “Well, let’s have a look.” That’s when I became convinced my funny bone was missing, because I couldn’t think of a single sharp come back. All I could come up with was, “You mean you don’t know?”

And the nurses — the first thing that struck me was, “Where’s Jennifer Jones?” All my nurses looked like Roseanne and had evil eyes like Snow White’s wicked stepmother. I asked about my funny bone, and they all said, “Did you have one when you came in?”

Of course, a couple of days later the nurses all stepped out of their phone booths and became beautiful, caring, and caped Americans, except for a few who were handsome. Still, they wouldn’t say what happened to my funny bone.

And the doctors — they looked me over, top to bottom, but never held up a ribboned shoe box and cried, “Eureka! We found your funny bone!” When I mentioned it, they just looked awkward and stared at my chart without speaking. I could tell they were embarrassed.

And other patients — they were mostly older persons concerned with their own funny bones. When I mentioned my missing funny bone, they just starred at me.

I understood them. You lie around all day in a hospital bed reading tattered “Field and Stream” magazines and watching “Oprah” on television, and you’d get catatonic too.

Then came the hospital volunteers — ladies in pink who invaded my room looking for a patient named Horowitz. “Isn’t your name Arnold Horowitz?” they asked as they looked at their clipboards.

They became peeved when I said, “No, but have you seen my funny bone?” They always turned and stomped away, muttering and glancing over their shoulders. I’ve often wondered if they ever found poor old Arnold. I’ll bet they lost his funny bone too.

I was told after my surgery that I could expect to live a normal, productive life in society in spite of the loss of my funny bone, but I protested. I had successfully avoided being both normal and productive all my life, thanks to my funny bone, and I wasn’t about to change now.

So I finally had to accept the loss of my funny bone. I knew I could always get a transplant unless it required a donor from my immediate family. Their funny bones have always been a little warped and are often misunderstood.

So saving money on hors d’oeuvres is really simple if you’re willing to discuss your latest operation. Just ask your guests to picture those doctors who collect funny bones and sit at home in the evenings fondling them and laughing their fool heads off.

I suppose that’s why they call such activities the PRACTICE of medicine and the ART of entertaining.

Bob Huber is a retired journalist living in Portales. He can be contacted at 356-3674.