In a casual conversation with a friend recently I happened to use the word, pedantic. Almost immediately, my friend remarked, “Whoo, whoo, whoo. Listen to the big words.” (I guess it was meant to be some sort of a not-so-subtle put-down.)

I replied, “Are you accusing me of being a sesquipedalian?” * Hell, I know lots of big words – age-appropriate words. Most of them are a direct result of my current situation as a retired senior citizen and they reflect my current life style. Words like: geriatrics, delicatessen, lollapalooza, scatterbrained, colonoscopy, defibrillator, prostatectomy, cholesterol, erectile dysfunction and irritable bowel syndrome – oops, sorry, that’s three words isn’t it?”

I read a lot. I read both fiction and non-fiction but when I’m reading non-fiction, it usually takes me longer than most people because I have a habit that I picked up in my college days – I am always underlining or highlighting important phrases and ideas. That slows me down considerably. I also have the habit of stopping to look up words that I don’t understand. That’s probably why I know about words like sesquipedalian.

Then I can’t remember what they mean, damn it. So now I keep a list of those words and I look at it occasionally so as to imprint it on my brain. It works – but not that well. I am now at the stage where I can remember that 1) I’ve heard the word before and 2) I can remember that it’s on my list, but 3) I just can’t remember what it means.

I also notice that my goals and desires are not what they used to be. Recently I was sitting at a bar in Las Vegas and this beautiful young woman sat down next to me. After a minute or two she leaned over and whispered, “Do you want some super sex?”

And I answered, “What kind of soup?”

See what I mean?

And speaking of colonoscopies…

Several weeks ago, my doctor suggested that it was time for me to have a colonoscopy performed. I soon found myself in the offices of a local proctologist and the procedure was scheduled. I was given a prescription for a “prep kit.”

Opening the prep kit I found a small vial with two tablets and a one-gallon plastic jug with some white powder in the bottom. It was labeled Go-Lightly Solution. If ever a product was misnamed, it was the Go-Lightly Solution. I suggest that a much better name would be the Go-Go-Go-Go-Like-There-Is-No-Tomorrow Solution. It turns out that it is intended to clean out your entire alimentary canal from head to tail – and I mean that literally. By the time I had finished the entire gallon of the stuff, I was as clean as a confessor’s conscience. I felt like I could breathe without even opening my mouth. And if I had opened my mouth in a bright room, you could have used my other end as a flashlight. Or to put it still another way, if his nurse had yelled into my mouth, the doctor could have heard her by putting his ear to the opening at the other end.

So now comes the day of the procedure. I am wheeled into the examination room where this whole thing (no pun intended) is to be performed. The doctor gets into a gown and rubber gloves and asks me if I have any questions. I say, “Are you sure this is the best way to do a tonsillectomy?” He barely smiles. I guess you lose your sense of humor when you have to deal with assholes every day.

So in he goes – so to speak – while I watch the whole thing in brilliant color on a monitor in front of me – as if I really care to watch this. Occasionally, as part of the procedure, he pumps a burst of air into me. It is only after I get back home that I discover that this will turn me into a human whoopee cushion.

Finally it’s all over and I am wheeled back into the recovery area and told to get dressed. A few minutes later the nurse brings me a professionally printed report that includes four beautiful color photographs of the bowels of Paul Burri. I study them carefully and say to her, “I’ll take two 8 x 10’s of this one and six wallet size of this one.” (She barely smiles. See my remark above about losing one’s sense of humor when you work at this end of the field of medicine.)

But the nice thing about the whole experience is that it refuted one of my wife’s long-standing opinions. My head is not up there.

* a person who uses big words in order to sound smart.