Pain – Eli S. Evans

A gentleman who had been experiencing a lot of pain paid a visit to a doctor with whom he discussed the frequency and character of his pain, as well as when it came and went and what seemed to exacerbate it as opposed to that which seemed to relieve it, albeit only modestly and temporarily in the case of the latter. While the gentleman spoke, the doctor’s assistant typed notes on a little laptop computer and the doctor nodded and said things like “mmm” and “aah,” and when he was finished both the doctor and her assistant left the examining room for a given period of time after which the doctor returned alone to deliver the diagnosis.
        As far as this diagnosis was concerned, the good news was that the pain did not appear to be a symptom of anything other than itself, such as a skin infection or a rare disease; the bad news, on the other hand, was that if the gentleman had any hopes of getting rid of it, he was going to have to stop doing something that he’d been doing for his entire life.
        “It won’t be easy,” the gentleman pledged, “but I’ll give it my best shot.”
        And as a matter of fact, so eager was this particular gentleman to eliminate the pain that his resoluteness in this regard was altogether sincere. Unfortunately, by time he got home, he’d completely forgotten what it was, exactly, that he was supposed to stop doing.
        He tried to get in touch with the doctor but was informed by the office secretary that there were one hundred and thirty-seven people ahead of him on the callback list and that she, meaning the secretary, would call him back in approximately six to eight weeks to tell him approximately when he could expect to receive a call from the doctor.
        “If you don’t answer either of those calls,” the secretary warned him, “you’ll automatically get sent to the back of the callback line.”
        Seeing where this was headed, the gentleman decided to try his good friend, instead.
        “If you think of all the things that you’ve been doing for your entire life, that should narrow it down quite a bit,” his good friend suggested.
        “But that’s just it,” said the gentleman. “I can’t even think of one thing that I’ve been doing for my entire life.”
        “Why don’t you try Susan,” said his friend. “If anyone should know, I’d imagine it would be her.”
        Susan was his ex-wife who never had time for him.
        “Don’t hang up,” the gentleman said when she answered the phone on the fourth ring. “Real quick, I just need you to tell me something I’ve been doing for my entire life.”
        “Hmm,” said Susan. “How about breathing?”
        The gentleman did not think breathing was the correct answer.
        But breathing must have been the correct answer, because many years later, when he finally stopped, all of his pain magically went away.