Tuesday, February 15, 2005


There are few things that warm the cockles of my heart quite like the triumphant story of a young child conquering a debilitating disease. Any disease will do, but my insides get especially warm and dewy when the specific ailment is of the terminal variety. We can even give it a name. Call it cancer. No reason not to.

With that said, I've got to admit that this story just doesn't punch me in the kidneys like it should. All the necessary ingredients are present. The young boy, with his can-do attitude and plucky disposition, makes for a wonderful victim. Only a Nazi would have found it hard to root for the little guy as he set out on his perilous journey through the Kindgdom of Endlessly Multiplying Cells. And who knew that during his adventure he would find a tumor the size of a grapefruit? Of course we all cheered as he valiantly duked it out with the strange intruder that had come to lodge itself in his brain, working to expand and destroy the fabric of nerves that served to keep the young boy's body functional and alive.

But did he have to name the tumor? And upon naming the tumor, did he then have to declare it's ultimate death? Wasn't that - and I hate to be the one to bring this up, because I'm sure it's crossed many of your minds - just a bit maudlin?

We live in a new world, people. A new America, a new culture. It's a culture of life, not death, and every living thing, excepting animals and the browner peoples, deserve not only a chance to live, but at the least, a chance not to die. It may be only one man's opinion, but for my money, espousing the mantra "Frank Must Die" does little to build the bridge between humans and the mutating scourge of cells we affectionately call cancer. Sure, one child won his battle, but what have we done to win the war? By anthropomorphizing a tumor, haven't we made the whole battle to find a cure just a tad personal? It would comfort me to know - and again, this is just me - that the researchers currently working to combat the havoc this condition causes are not naming the tumors they study and dissect. Nor would it give me solace to discover they were dressing the tumors up in baby clothes and small knit hats and attaching Mr. Potato Head parts to make them look more "like this dickhead guy I used to know who I totally want to fucking kill".

But maybe I'm reading too much into the story. Maybe the kid's on to something, and the world will soon discover that the best way to vanquish that which troubles us is to give our problems a human's name and use all the powers in our reach to destroy "him".

So, OK, little man, congratulations. "Frank" died and we're all very proud of you. Now it's my turn to give it a go and if there are no objections, here are a few things I'd like to erase from existence:

"John", my puss-covered and scabby rash that covers the outer half of my upper left leg.

"Jennifer", my constant worry that I will never make love to a woman more beautiful than the last.

"Larry", my need to always be touching something on the instrument panel of my car.

"Bruce", my occassional tendency to get an erection at the sight of a man or very unattractive woman.

"Peter", my irrational urge to live among the native people of the Amazonian basin.

"The Spoonbender", who is the author of the webpage, "The Spoonbender".

1 comment:

King Koopa said...

I'd venture to say that I'm not alone in saying you're reading too much into this story. Anthropomorphize away, little bro.

I'd be more worried w/ man's propensity to quantify the size of tumors as different types of fruit. As in, "If only I could get that darn tumor down to the size of a raisin, I'd be golden."