The Doctor's Consultation:
by Dr. Iain Corness
Will I fracture my hip?
One of the greatest problems
affecting us all as we get older is falling and fracturing a hip. Despite
all the advances in surgical techniques, anybody with a fractured neck of
the femur (the thigh bone where it fits into the hip joint) will end up with
a prosthetic ball and socket joint. Even with minimally invasive surgery, it
is still a major operation, and as such has “risks” and a prolonged
post-operative phase, complete with rehabilitation and training on how to
The reason that the elderly have this problem is through the bone becoming
less dense, and therefore more brittle. This condition is called
osteoporosis. Osteoporosis involves a gradual loss of calcium, which causes
the bones to become thinner, more fragile and more likely to break.
There are many people who are ‘at risk’ of osteoporosis, including:
Post-menopausal women and not taking estrogen.
A personal or maternal history of hip fracture or smoking.
Post-menopausal woman who are tall (over 1.7 meters) or very thin.
Males with clinical conditions associated with bone loss.
Anyone taking medications that are known to cause bone loss, including
corticosteroids such as Prednisone, various anti-seizure medications such as
Dilantin and certain barbiturates, or high-dose thyroid replacement drugs.
People with type 1 (formerly called juvenile or insulin-dependent) diabetes,
liver disease, kidney disease or a family history of osteoporosis.
People with thyroid conditions, such as hyperthyroidism or parathyroid
condition, such as hyperparathyroidism.
Those who have experienced a fracture after only mild trauma.
People with X-Ray evidence of vertebral fracture or other signs of
That list above seems to cover just about everyone, so how can you find out
whether you have already experienced calcium loss and osteoporosis? This can
be demonstrated very simply by Bone Density Scanning.
Bone density scanning, also called dual-energy X-Ray absorptiometry (DXA or
DEXA) or bone densitometry, is an enhanced form of X-Ray technology that is
used to measure bone density loss. DEXA is today’s established standard for
measuring bone mineral density (BMD).
To attempt to prove to myself that I am still a strapping young lad, I had
the procedure carried out this week at a local hospital, on their new DEXA
scanner. Like all X-Ray based procedures, it is painless and non-invasive,
and should be thought of as having a ‘mini’ X-Ray as the amount of radiation
used is extremely small - less than one-tenth the dose of a standard chest
The procedure involves wearing a gown, in place of your normal outer
clothing, and lying on a clinical examination table that has an arm over you
to receive the X-Rays generated under the table. The arm moves with a
whirring noise, just to let you know that something is happening. The
technicians will also position your legs, so that they can get the best
X-Ray exposure of the lumbar spine and hips. The whole procedure takes
around 10 minutes and then it is just a case of waiting for the results.
So what can you do to attempt to prevent osteoporosis? According to one
researcher’s findings and published in the Medical Journal of Australia,
lifestyle approaches, such as increasing calcium intake and weight-bearing
exercise, as well as avoidance of excess alcohol and tobacco use, are
recommended, even though the evidence for anti-fracture efficacy of each, or
a combination of these approaches, is lacking. Vitamin D deficiency is
common in elderly people who are housebound or institutionalized, and
vitamin D replacement should be considered in these individuals. Hip
protectors should be considered in elderly people at risk of falls, but
adherence to wearing these is very limited.
However, if the result shows that you already do have osteoporosis, and are
therefore “at risk”, what then? Well, there are treatments that are
available, and most of them are expensive. It is not a simple matter of
drinking two bottles of high calcium milk, I am afraid. Calcium metabolism
is very complex, and getting it from the belly to the bones is not easy.
For post-menopausal women, consider estrogen as a preventive. For everyone,
exercise should be continued as it helps build up bone mass. And if you want
to know if you are at risk, consider a DEXA scan.
Heart to Heart
I felt sorry for the guy who wrote in that his office was being
remodeled or whatever. It’s been terrible here at home, with a new house
being built next door. Excavators, jack hammers, trucks and dust. The
kids have all got the sniffles, we can’t dry the clothes outside and we
have to keep all the doors and windows shut in the daytime. We don’t
have air-conditioning only in the bedrooms and so it’s terribly hot as
well. We’ve asked them to try and keep the noise down as the baby can’t
sleep in the daytime either, but no good. I just want them to finish the
excavations and the concrete trucks and maybe we can get some peace
again. Got any suggestions?
You’re stuck, my Petal. All that I can suggest is find out from the
builders how long they think this phase is going to take and then go
away on holidays. If you can’t do that, do you have any friends you can
bunk in with for a few weeks? You have my sympathies. As a last resort,
think about paying the workers a little extra as a sweetener if they can
finish in one week. But don’t pay until the week is over!
I am very confused. Last night in the bar I met the most beautiful girl.
She is not like the other girls I have met in bars here. I have seen
quite a few as I have been in Thailand for two weeks. I have never seen
anyone as gorgeous as this girl, she is tall even taller than me with
long black hair and a super figure. She can speak quite good English but
whispers in my ear rather than talking out loud in the noisy bar. She
tells me she comes from Bangkok and she’s not like the girls from Esarn,
but honestly she doesn’t really want to talk much, but is happy just
smooching up to me. Hillary, I am worried because she seems so reluctant
to talk that she may have something wrong with her throat. Could
laryngitis be a symptom of some other disease, even AIDS perhaps? I feel
I have to know before I go any further in this relationship. I would
hate to find that I would have to be a nurse-maid to her or lose her to
some terminal illness. Can you tell me how to check? Quickly please as
she said she will wait for me and not go with anyone else.
Ear, Nose and Throat
Dear Ear, Nose and Throat,
Before you rush off to the Ear, Nose and Throat department, I think you
would be better off checking with the Gender Reassignment department.
Tall gorgeous creatures with husky voices are more than likely to be the
same sex as yourself I’m afraid. And you say you have been here two
weeks and now you are rushing headlong into any relationship far too
soon. It has been said many times that the best looking girls in
Thailand are always guys! You have been warned. Slow down, and stick to
girls smaller than yourself, who don’t talk in whispers. It is much
Is it coincidence, or just plain stupidity, but almost all the letters
you seem to get come from farang males who are in trouble with their
Thai ladies. This relates to the fact that their ‘lady’ is one they have
picked up in a bar. Surely everyone has heard the saying, “you can take
a girl out of the bar, but you can’t take the bar out of the girl.” I
have been married to my Thai wife for four years now and there has never
been a “bad moment” in all that time. She is beautiful, intelligent (a
qualified accountant) and caring. I do not have to change the locks on
my doors or worry that my suits will be cut up. She does not need cables
of gold to hold her in the marriage, or motorcycles, or houses. There is
no family buffalo on its last legs, and we are not over-run with
relatives from Nakorn Nowhere who want to stay. We have a partnership
and mutual trust. Why don’t some of these men look for the “good” girls?
Mind you she has developed a taste for chocolates and cheese!
No Bars For Me
Dear No Bars For Me,
Are you sure your wife is Thai? She is certainly a paragon of
femininity. However, there may be lots of reasons that my main
correspondents are farang men, with problems with their good time girls
from the bar. One may be that the number of “good” girls as opposed to
“good time” girls is much smaller than the demand, so the single males
end up with the bar girls, of which there is a more than adequate
supply. Look after your wonderful wife and buy her plenty of chocolates
(you can send the champagne and cheese to me) and continue to build on
your mutual trust. Bar scene farangs are generally not looking past the
end of their noses - it is some other part of the anatomy.
Camera Class: by
is the most popular photographic subject of all time? Hands up
all of you who said “girls”. Correct again! And that includes
you, doesn’t it! Actually there have been more books written
about “How to Photograph Girls” than any other photographic
texts. What’s more, photographers have been snapping girls since
we first managed to record blurry images on Daguerre’s
sensitized glass plates.
However, unless you are careful, you will end up with shots that
are far from glamorous, and are disappointing for both the
subject and the cameraman. The answer lies in following some
simple rules which will make your lady look glam, and you will
want enlargements of the very ‘professional’ result.
Let’s start with the basic pose. The first rule with all amateur
models is to get your subject to relax. (Note I refer in this
article to amateur models. Professional ones know which poses to
adopt, and which poses make them look the best. That is why
professional models are professionals - and expensive!)
Now, if your favorite lady is standing rigidly to attention in
front of the camera, I can guarantee that the end result will
not be pleasing. When photographing Thai people in particular,
it is even more important to get them relaxed and happy, as they
tend to “stand to attention” with arms held straight at their
sides, looking as if they are on army parade. The other favorite
position is to place thumb and forefinger under the chin, which
does not look glamorous, but rather looks faintly ridiculous,
and the reason for this escapes me.
I have found that it helps to have an album of different poses
cut from magazines, adverts etc and show this to your subject.
When the sitter knows what “look” you are trying to achieve, it
makes it easier all round.
The pose to avoid at all costs is the subject straight on to the
camera. This is unfortunately the commonest pose - but it is the
worst as far as looking attractive is concerned.
Here’s what to do to get over this problem. Simply. Sit your
lady in a chair, and then turn it 45 degrees away from the
straight ahead position. Now ask her to slowly turn her head and
look at the end of your camera’s lens. Now you look through your
viewfinder - see? It looks better already, doesn’t it!
Now ask her to gently raise the shoulder closest to the camera
and smile. Guess what? You are starting to get a glamorous
Now get her to slightly bend the neck to move her chin down
towards the body, so that she has to look slightly upwards with
her eyes at the camera. This makes the eyes look large and
That basic pose can be modified by turning to the left as well
as to the right, shoulders up or down, open mouthed smile or shy
grin. Each shot will have a different look.
For these sort of portraits you do need to make the subject’s
head fill the viewfinder. Keep the top of the hair just inside
the top edge of the viewing area and the lower edge should just
keep the shoulders in the frame. In other words, walk in close.
The best lens for this is around 135 mm, if you have a choice.
This focal length is even known as a ‘portrait’ lens.
Lighting is the next important factor in producing that romantic
glamor portrait. The trick here is to use gentle, soft lighting
to avoid harsh and unflattering shadows. One super little trick
to take shadows away from under the chin, nose and eyes is to
open out a newspaper and place it in the sitter’s lap. The
reflected light will gently lessen the dark shadows.
Another trick used by the professional glamour photographers is
to “back light” the subject and then reflect light back into the
face with gold foil reflectors. The gold imparts a very “warm”
and flattering color to the skin. The reflector will also be
picked up as small highlights in the eyes, which gives sparkle
and an “alive” feeling to the portrait.
Money Matters: Graham
Macdonald MBMG International Ltd.
Portfolio Construction - Part 5
IOver the past century and a quarter the real earnings of
companies in the S&P index have grown at only 1.5 percent a year, which is
less than the economy as a whole. This is because it is always underweight
in new and dynamic companies. Over the past twenty five years real earnings
have grown at an annual rate of 3 percent. Even more recently, it has gone
up to an annual growth of 25 percent. This is since the most recent trough
and will not last.
On past experience, it is far more likely to turn negative. If we have to
gaze into our crystal ball so as to figure out when that may happen, we have
to recognise that the buoyancy of corporate profitability is just one of
several extraordinary features of the world economy.
Here are a few others: dynamic and now widely shared growth; low real
interest rates on risk-free securities; low inflation-risk and credit-risk
premiums and so low nominal interest rates; huge current account
“imbalances”; and low inflation, in spite of big rises in prices of
commodities, especially oil.
This combination explains many of the phenomena in financial markets.
Borrowing by private equity funds to buy corporate assets is just one. Some
of what we see is also surprising. This is particularly true of the
association of rapid global economic growth and high profitability with low
real interest rates and little concern about inflation. A world such as this
is one in which one would have expected high real interest rates and worries
about inflation, not the opposite.
So what is going on? Several answers emerge: monetary policy credibility,
the great achievement of central banks over the past quarter of a century;
globalisation of world markets in goods, services and capital; the
incorporation of China into the world economy; the almost fixed Chinese
exchange rate and consequent downward pressure on US Dollar prices of
manufacturers; the shift of world income to two groups of high savers - the
east Asians and, more recently, the oil exporters, and the consequent
emergence of a huge savings surplus in these countries; the role of
governments as accumulators of US dollar liabilities, especially treasury
bonds; the role of the US as borrower and spender of last resort; and the
rapid growth of US productivity. All this together has generated the
conditions for stable economic growth. But how long will the happy times
last? The dangers ahead look big:
* One is that markets will overreach themselves, so generating a
* Another is a reduction in excess savings outside the US and a tightening
of world interest rates.
* Another is a slowdown in US productivity growth. Yet another is a shift in
global monetary conditions that threatens the soaring profitability of the
US financial sector.
* But the biggest risk is that the end of the US property boom will persuade
US households to tighten their belts at last, thereby ending the US role as
the world’s big spender before the big savers are prepared to spend in turn.
The bottom line is that we can be confident that profit growth will not
continue at recent rates. Sometimes people get perplexed: if the (US)
economy has slowed so much through to Q1 2007, why are corporate earnings
still so strong? This is because although real GDP growth has slowed
down quite significantly over the last twelve months, the major equity
markets, such as the S&P 500, continue to register strong growth in company
revenues and earnings.
This is down to how things are measured and shows that there are fundamental
issues that are also at work. To begin with, GDP is normally measured in
real (volume) terms, but economy-wide headline inflation of near 3% must be
added to calculate revenue growth. Secondly, the S&P 500 has a different
industry mix that has seen higher growth than the economy as a whole. Third,
revenues from US companies’ international operations have been growing
rapidly, but these are excluded from GDP.
For the moment, the out-performance of S&P revenues versus economic growth
should continue, even after adjusting for inflation. However, we believe
that the industry mix of US growth could become less favourable for the
equity market over the next few months. Nevertheless, a continued strong
global growth environment and a weakening US dollar should help
international sales to remain robust and offset a less friendly composition
of US growth.
It is vital to have access to all investable asset classes within your
portfolio. The equity ‘obsessives’ meanwhile will no doubt be spending their
time and energy trying to come up with new measures to justify whatever
prices stocks trade for ahead of the big looming fall (who else remembers
the attempt to supplant P/E ratios with peg ratios around the turn of the
millennium in an attempt to take the focus from how expensive shares had
I can’t stress enough that the way forward is alpha management through the
five asset classes (six if you include commodities), allocation, equity
protected funds, intelligent stock-picking - we’re ready for the worst that
could happen, what probably should happen and the best possible outcomes
too. Every portfolio ought to be.
Goldilocks is alive and well in the minds of those analysts who view weak
growth numbers as forward indicators that inflation is under control and
similarly see signs of inflation as confirmation that growth will remain
strong. This seems to be a deliberately perverse way of avoiding the very
real dangers that:
1) The inflation genie is now inescapably out of the bottle due to
fundamental structuring changes in the global economy (China now has
sufficient wealth to generate domestic inflation which means that it can no
longer offer deflation as one of its main exports)
2) The debt burden in economies like the US, UK, Spain, Ireland and
Australia will choke any potential ability for growth and lead to
slowdown/recession for these economies and the global economy as a whole.
To be continued…
The above data and research was compiled from
sources believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd
nor its officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in
the above article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as
a result of any actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading
the above article. For more information please contact Graham Macdonald
on [email protected]
Life in Chiang Mai:
by Mark Whitman
By the time this appears I trust that I will be back in Chiang Mai, no doubt
feeling rather warmer than in our very cool summer in the U.K. and whatever
the amount of rain in Thailand it can hardly be wetter than in parts of
England, where new records are being broken every day. Not just the wettest
June on record but now July and as much rain in a few hours as is normal for
the whole month, with massive flooding and damage to homes and businesses.
The British have a knack of responding in two ways. First they are seldom
ready for any ‘problem’ that arises, be it snow, heavy rains, a heatwave or
any other quite normal phenomenon. In Copenhagen when it snows heavily the
machinery is ready and waiting, the snow is piled up and then collected.
Life goes on as normal after two or three hours. We cancel trains and work
is disrupted, accidents abound and there is a call for an enquiry. Nothing
is done, rather as will be the case when smog hits Chiang Mai next March!
The second response is an invocation of the wartime spirit. How the British
love to live in the past and recall what is still fondly remembered as our
‘finest hour’. People rally round and hold parties in one of the few
habitable homes, looked after their neighbours, inflate rubber dinghies that
appear mysteriously from the attic and soldier on. It’s all very cosy but
does somehow smack of a by-gone era that is recalled through rose tinted
The opening line to the best English novel I know, The Go Between, by L.P.
Hartley reads: The past is a foreign country: they do things differently
there. It is a great opening line to a masterpiece, a book rooted in a long
ago era. But I always take it very literally and wish to forget the past,
preferring to think of now (and sometimes the future, what there is of it).
Hartley’s novel, written over 50 years ago, is like most of his short
stories and other books, very simple in its prose and all the better for it.
But I came across an article in The Independent this week that relished
words that were far from simple. A clever book shop owner, Christopher
Foyle, has spent decades collecting wonderful words which most of us have
never even heard, let alone understand. Tens of thousands of words at our
disposal and apparently most of us use around 500 hundred different ones
each day, probably the same 500 the next day too, in a slightly different
order and context.
Like most people, I hate affected English, jargon, politically correct
phrases that are meant to avoid offence – I can’t help wondering if you
refer to someone as vertically challenged rather than not very tall or even
short whether it makes them feel better.
And difficult words for their own sake are of course pointless. Lovely words
that denote the subject such as buzz, frolic, and groan are all fine and it
has to be said that many of Foyle’s collection are useless in everyday
conversation. Saying that someone is in a stormy relationship sits easier on
the tongue than stating that the relationship is procellous (stormy, as the
sea), I feel. But there were dozens that are marvellous in the way that they
suggest a meaning by their sound, not so much onomatopoeic as in sinuous.
Here are just a mouthful:
A slubberdegullion which means a slovenly oaf. The same guy might be a
yaffle because he eats and drinks noisily. Or a galoot because he is clumsy.
On the other hand you might be attracted to someone and wish to suaviate
them (kiss). You might be attracted to them because of their height
(procerity) or their shapely buttocks which are thus described as
callipygian. And finally if your young male servant (gossoon) suffers from
aprosexia (is unable to pay attention) then you might give him a jobation (a
reproof) when you are carnaptious (irritable). All of which might lead him
to swikedom (treachery) or to call you a perjink (a fusspot) or even to
batterfang you (attack with his fists). Better then not to start anything
since dealing with a rantipole (a wild young person) might prove dangerous.
Far better for us all is resipiscence. Namely a recognition of our past
mistakes and desire to do better in future. Yes, that will do nicely as our
thought for the week. Resipiscence.
Editor’s note: Welcome back Mark!
Res‘i*pis”cence, noun from resipiscere, to recover one’s senses. Wisdom
derived from severe experience; hence, repentance or having to spell check
all these words.
Let's Go To The Movies:
Ratatouille: US Animation – A superb movie in every way,
warm and irresistible, just like Pinocchio and Happy Feet. Don’t miss it.
The marvelous visual effects in Ratatouille show the Pixar company stamp,
but the sensibility that governs the story is unmistakably that of the
writer and director, Brad Bird. A veteran of The Simpsons and a longtime
writer for movies and television, he has emerged as an original and
provocative voice in American filmmaking. In this movie he demonstrates that
a clear, accessible story can in addition be both thoughtful and
unpredictable. And the basic moral conflict in the movie between family
obligation and individual ambition is handled with unusual subtlety and
complexity. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Hairspray: US Musical/Comedy – They say this bursts onto the screen with
robust energy, youth, and vigor, and opinions are it is just plain fun.
Starring John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Christopher
Walken. This is the third time around for this work, as it started as a 1988
John Waters film, which made Ricki Lake a star, then became a Broadway
musical made from the Waters movie and now again as a movie based on the
Broadway show. Tradition requires that the important role of Edna be played
by a man in drag: Divine in the film, Harvey Fierstein in the musical, and
this time, John Travolta, in what looks like, from the previews, a most
persuasive, exciting characterization. Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix: US Adventure/Fantasy – A sleek
and exciting movie. Each film in the series seems to get darker – this one
begins like a horror movie, and proceeds as a tense and twisty political
thriller. A movie to savor, study and try and figure out what is really
Grind House: Death Proof: US Horror/Thriller – Quentin Tarantino’s portion
of the original Grindhouse, in an expanded version. This is a slasher flick
where the killer pursues his victims with a car rather than a knife.
Grind House: Planet Terror: US Horror/Thriller – Robert Rodriguez’ portion
of the original Grindhouse, in an expanded version. Campy and senseless gore
Transformers: US Action/Sci-Fi – At Kadsuankaew only. A gigantic,
spectacular, and funny summer blockbuster, with truly exceptional and
unprecedented visual effects. It’s a fun movie.
Die Hard 4.0: US Action/Adventure/Thriller – At Kadsuankaew only. A
fascinating story of a conspiracy to take down the entire computer network
that holds the US together.
Still one of the most entertaining movies around, all in all. Very exciting,
good dialogue, good action, provocative themes. Bruce Willis was born to
play the role of police detective John McClane, now in his fourth outing,
and he seems to be enjoying himself more than he has in years. If you have
any interest in this kind of movie, see this one.
Video Clip/Vdo Clip: Thai Horror/Thriller (English subtitles). This looks
like a run-of-the-mill generic Thai horror film, with nothing particular to
In Country & Melody/E Som Som Wang: Thai Comedy/Romance. From the previews,
I would have to say this is the most disgusting Thai comedy that has come
along for some time. The previews, including the human excrement sequence,
are so sickening I can’t bring myself to see the movie. You’re on your own.
I suggest you don’t see it at all! This sort of thing shouldn’t be
Kung Fu Tootsie/Tud Soo Food: Thai Comedy – A very low class Thai comedy
with a lot of popular Thai television stars. It’s supposedly a parody of the
movie Kung Fu Hustle (2004), itself a parody of the Kung Fu style (wuxia
genre), this one is as disgusting as only the Thailand film industry could
make it - with plenty of drag queens, cross-dressing, and obnoxious gay
Scheduled for Thursday, August 9
The Simpsons Movie: US Animation — Apparently this is a must-see for any fan
of The Simpsons, or anyone looking for a good laugh. Has received generally
favorable reviews. (Additional scenes all through the ending credits.)
The Bourne Ultimatum: US Action/Mystery/Suspense/Thriller – with Matt Damon
and Albert Finney. The culminating film of the trilogy begun five years ago
with The Bourne Identity reportedly is a 114-minute chase film, dashing
through streets and rooftops of any number of international urban sprawls.
Reviews: Universal acclaim.
Life in the laugh lane:
by Scott Jones
One Thai vs. 150 Norwegians
My 94-year-old stepfather would say, “I still feel like I’m 17, until I look
in the mirror in the morning and gasp, ‘Good lord, who the hell is that?’” I
experienced this to the core at my recent 40th high school reunion. I
remember my classmates the way they were, but when I looked around the room,
I’d seen younger faces on cash.
In a moment of insanity, my Thai mate Joom agreed to travel to Fargo, North
Dakota to attend this two-day, bizarre ritual of mortality, against the
advice of my “friends” who warned, “Are you sure want to hang out with
Prehistoric Man?” As we walked across the parking lot to the Mexican Village
restaurant, several large, white-haired citizens waved exuberantly from
arriving cars bigger than our bungalow in Thailand. Another even larger,
whiter woman wearing a flowered dress the size of a king-size bedspread
emerged from the building into the brisk wind, although not one hair stirred
in her semi-tall, very rigid hairdo, perhaps kept conservatively in place
with Super Glue. At 88 pounds dripping wet with clothes on, Joom may have
weighed as much as one of her thighs, thankfully concealed under her
bedding. We panicked, ran behind a pick-up truck and each smoked a carton of
cigarettes before daring to enter the room.
We finally entered the Village of Scandinavian Vikings where people had
continued to grow in all directions: older, taller and wider. One friend
remarked, “I don’t remember the bra sizes of the senior girls being quite so
large.” Several women were taller than I, but Dick Hansen still towered
above us all at 6’ 7” and 300 pounds—the former center of our football team
and current college president, who undoubtedly has no problem with
discipline. I said, “I thought people we’re supposed to shrink as they
aged.” He replied, “Only you.” A relatively short Thai, Joom looked like a
lost tourist, head back, gazing up at skyscrapers in New York. Though she
would have preferred to be invisible, I convinced her to get a nametag, so
the blonde giants wouldn’t mistake her for a Mexican waitress. Definitely
more difficult than the names Olson or Swenson, “Tewintarapakti” required
three separate nametags, but no one tried pronounce it anyway.
Besides being the shortest person in the room by a foot, she was also the
youngest by twenty-some years. Her smooth Thai skin and youthful smile fools
the camera and my friends had seen photos that took off another twenty.
Meet my family. After talking with three of my cousins’ children with autism
and other hereditary mental challenges referred to by odd acronyms, she
said, “Now I understand,” unfortunately referring to my psychological
One friend commented, “When we saw photos of you and heard you had two kids,
we thought they must be eggs.” She finally said to me, “Stay as long as you
want. I’ll just take a cab to the airport and wait for you back in
Although the room looked like the Land of the Giants, we were the last
graduating class of Fargo Central High School “Midgets.” Decades before,
because the first basketball team was short, all our athletic teams were
named “The Midgets.” When we were at Central, since the legacy of the
Midgets had been around forever, we never considered the ridiculous nature
of our moniker or how it may not have struck terror into our competitors’
hearts. At pep rallies our opponents probably yelled, “Oh, no! The fighting
Midgets are coming! Run away! Run away!” as they nearly laughed themselves
to death. I’m surprised we ever won a game. “Get out of here, you little
Midgets! Gimme that ball! Go to your rooms!”
Upon learning about the Midgets, and that I personally had created and
starred as the mascot “Midgetman” in school colors costume—Batmanesque,
purple, hooded cape, white shirt with purple “M” on the chest, purple
shorts, tights and ugly plastic shoes shaped like deformed feet—my non-Fargo
friends would ask, “They don’t still use Midgets, do they?” Answer: “No, our
school burned down when I was a junior and the fighting midget firefighters
only had squirt guns.” (Although our alumni newspaper reported that (as we
watched flames licking the roof of our crumbling school) I ran back to the
door and threw my books into the building, the rumor is not true that I had
soaked them in kerosene.) Next comment from friends: “Midgets would be so
politically incorrect today.” So what? 1000 angry midgets might invade Fargo
to protest? “Get out of here, you little midgets! Gimme those signs! Go to
your hotel rooms!” If Walt Disney can have Snow White and the Seven Dwarves,
Fargo could still have the fighting Midgets.
The next night at the banquet, an aging Midgetman appeared, bumping into
walls, wearing glasses over his mask and generally making a fool of himself,
but secretly pleased he could still fit into the costume and the 17-year-old
fool inside was still alive and well and not living in Fargo. (You may
continually grow old, but you can stay immature indefinitely.) I’m going to
bring the costume back home. The cape may be too hot, but the boys in
Thailand will love the purple tights. Size Norwegian Large, they won’t fit