Copyright 2008 Elliott Joseph
I hadn't seen the old gang, what was left of them, for quite a while and was surprised how reasonably well they looked. There we were, the four of us, Charles, Bill, Betsy and me.
As we've done, each time we've gotten together, we launched right into the organ recital: our arthritic knees, heart surgery, cataracts, breathlessness, hearing loss and other bodily signs of age.
This time it was also about pills.
"You know," said Betsy, "my favorite TV show is the network news. You get all that information about the new drugs."
"I hate that relentless drug advertising, and the 'Ask your doctor' routine," said Charles. "Are we oldsters the only ones watching the news?"
"There's this new orange pill," said Betsy. "It's for fatigue. I'm always so tired after dinner."
Charles is our skeptic, and has no patience for the classifying of pills by their color or configuration. "What's the generic or trade name? That's what's important."
"Those names are too complicated," said Bill. "Every pill has its own shape, and that's a handy way to tell one from another. I take a diamond one, a little round one, an oblong blue, a half tiny white, a hexagon and a long green one."
"Don't you want to know what you're taking? What their side effects are?"
"I take supplements," said Betsy. "They don't have any side effects."
"They're placebos," said Charles.
Bill agreed. "Ineffectual."
"I hate the way the ads talk about side effects in a tone that sounds like they're good for you," said Charles.
"Do you see any wrinkles in my face?" said Betsy. "Alternative medicine. Herbals."
"Genes," said Charles.
"I take them with apple sauce," said Betsy. "I choke with water. With apple sauce they go right down."
"It's the apple sauce a day that's helping your skin," said Bill.
"I take Levothroid, Furosemide, Metropolol, Hydralazine, Cozaar, Amlodipine, Terazosin and Lovostatin," said Charles, "and have no problem distinguishing one from another."
"I take Vitamin C 500, B-50, Calcium with Vitamin D and Centrum Silver," I said.
"Me too," said Betsy. "And those little forest green pills."
"Forest sulphate," said Bill.
"Ferrous sulphate," corrected Charles.
"That was a joke," said Bill.
"What do you take for headaches?" I asked.
"I can't take Advil or Motrin."
"Ecotrin. It's coated."
"I carry Aspirin, just in case I get a heart attack."
"What about Flomax?"
"I love that ad."
"Do you take sleeping tablets?"
It was time for cookies and coffee. For a while there was silence.
As we said our goodbyes, I asked, "Are these little pills the things that are keeping us alive?"
"Ask your doctor," we agreed.
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