Tuesday, July 27, 2010

An Exchange


My friend R. is a journalist of repute, an old hand, a wry spirit. Among other things, we share a cardiologist. We had agreed to meet today for barbecue, possibly to kick around project ideas. Late last night I realized that I would have to bail on lunch. Before turning in I wrote to R:

I apologize, but I am running badly behind on a project and must postpone lunch tomorrow. If possible, I'd like to reschedule in a few weeks, if that works for you.

Early this morning I find R.'s response in my inbox:

I know you hate me. Everyone does. I am alone, friendless and as of noon hungry too. This is horrible. You must organize your time better. As Dr. N_______ says, a disorganized man is not a heart healthy man. See you soon. I'm vamoosing a week from Saturday for two weeks in the wild west, but will write to figure out a rematch at Pappy's. I'll remind myself to call on 8/24 or thereabouts.

I reply:

You protest too much. No one who uses the verb "vamoose" can be unhappy. This is like a handwriting tic, or a chemical signature which reveals deep positivity. Have fun. See you soon.

R. volleys back:

I think you may have hit on a major mental-health discovery: Do you ever use the verb vamoose? ( ) Yes ( ) No

Respondents answering yes are not depressed to the point of exhaustion. Those answering no are ready for a deep-immersion Prozac bath. In addition to your expertise in the area of cardio-vascular research, you are also a skilled psychodynamic psychotherapist. I bow before your talents, and have a note to myself to call you in late August.

Then:

Dear R: Whilst you are gone I will be here, snorkeling in the Prozac bath.

R. gets the last line:

Name your dosage tenderfoot, and see you around.

Image: Ad for Deep Sea diving school in Popular Mechanics, August 1950, courtesy of the blog Modern Mechanics.

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