Just When You Thought It Was Safe…

October 29, 1999

There are several ways of creating terror. One of the most popular seems to be to take a group of people (including at least one token minority, one person wearing glasses, and at least one beautiful woman with an aversion to clothes) and put them in a physically claustrophobic situation. (In the United States alone, every twenty minutes there’s a storm that knocks out all the phone lines and washes away all the roads to a house where a murder has just taken place.) Or you could take a small town and let it be overrun by killer rats, bats, birds, bees, fleas, ticks, ants, or aardvarks. Or you could just celebrate Halloween in Tennessee. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, Halloween is an annual harvest ritual during which children dress up as characters from last summer’s hit movies and go around harvesting candy. It’s essentially a Christian idea, which is why it’s associated with strange rituals, monstrous creatures, and general lunacy. Although Halloween has become largely secular, its original intent was to supplant the more interesting but less commercially successful pagan harvest rituals. Because Halloween falls on a Sunday this year, the local legislature had a long and heated debate about whether or not Halloween would be celebrated on Saturday, which has the advantage of being a night when children are traditionally left on their own anyway, or Sunday. Since a large number of people attend church services Sunday night, this meant a potential loss of revenue for candy vendors. Fortunately the matter was resolved, and in the final minutes of the session some unimportant stuff about taxes or something like that managed to get through. I’m not sure what exactly the final decision was, even though it was right on the front page of the local paper (under "National News", which is the local paper’s way of saying that the South really did win the Civil War). However, I’ve been told that this year Halloween will actually be celebrated on Saturday night. Anyone seen wearing a strange costume on Sunday night will, of course, be shot on sight. This is a vast improvement for Tennessee. Thirty years ago anyone seen wearing a strange costume would be shot on sight regardless of what night it was.

Enjoy this week’s terrifying offerings.


  1. She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.

  2. Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.

  3. On the second day the knee was better, and on the third day it disappeared.

  4. The patient is tearful and crying constantly. She also appears to be depressed.

  5. The patient has been depressed since she began seeing me in 1993.

  6. Discharge status: Alive but without my permission.

  7. Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year old male, mentally alert but forgetful.

  8. The patient refused autopsy.

  9. The patient has no previous history of suicides.

  10. Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.

  11. Patient’s medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.

  12. Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.

  13. Between you and me, we ought to be able to get this lady pregnant.

  14. Since she can’t get pregnant with her husband, I thought you might like to work her up.

  15. She is numb from her toes down.

  16. While in ER, she was examined, x-rated and sent home.

  17. The skin was moist and dry.

  18. Occasional, constant infrequent headaches.

  19. Patient was alert and unresponsive.

  20. She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.

  21. I saw your patient today, who is still under our car for physical therapy.

  22. Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accommodation.

  23. Examination of genitalia reveals that he is circus sized.

  24. The lab test indicated abnormal lover function.

  25. The patient was to have a bowel resection. However, he took a job as a stock broker instead.

  26. Skin: somewhat pale but present.

  27. The pelvic exam will be done later on the floor.

  28. Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen and I agree.

  29. Large brown stool ambulating in the hall.

(In case anyone thinks I’m being hard on the South, here’s a little equal-opportunity ribbing.-CW)

Only in America…can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America…are there handicapped parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America…do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America…do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to the counter.

Only in America…do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America…do we use answering machines to screen calls and then have call waiting so we won’t miss a call from someone we didn’t want to talk to in the first place.

Only in America…do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America…do we use the word "politics" to describe the process so well. "Poll" in Latin meaning "many" and "tics" meaning "bloodsucking creatures."

Only in America…do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

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