Good old days getting a little blurry

Good old days getting a little blurry

EKGs, potbellies, acid reflux replace kegs, growing pot, acid rock as time marches on
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Apr 01, 2004


Michael A. Obenski, VMD
He was only about 18 inches tall and seemed completely motionless. I wanted to get up close and take his picture, but I was afraid to approach him. Then, one of his eyes flicked open. I jumped 30 feet. The crocodile was only 12 feet long.

Knowing what I would do if I woke up from a nap and found myself lying next to a jelly donut, I decided to take the prudent course of action and run like hell.

You see, we don't have crocodiles in Allentown, Pa. Up until this incident, the closest I had ever gotten to one was when I was watching that crocodile guy on the Animal Planet channel. He seems to have a knack for handling the beasts. However, I prefer my own system, the "run like hell" system. It worked great.

This all occurred just a few weeks ago in Costa Rica, a beautiful, unspoiled country located a long way from Allentown. Oh, sure, there is abundant wildlife, rainforests, volcanoes and ecosystems. However, what I meant by unspoiled is that you can light up a cigar anywhere without inciting the formation of a lynch mob.

(Note: Don't bother to contact me with information concerning cigars and my health. I don't need a warning from you. I'm married.)

My wife and I were in Costa Rica for the annual Pennsylvania Veterinary Medical Association Winter Meeting, a week of continuing education lectures, scheduled with plenty of spare time for other vacation activities.

(Note to the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners: I attended every single lecture and I have a certificate to prove it.)

Many of the people in attendance were old friends and classmates. There was a lot of catching up to do. Sometimes, we would take sightseeing trips together, go out for dinner or just meet for drinks at the bar.

(Note to the Internal Revenue Service: every single charge on my credit card was incurred during business discussions with colleagues.)

On one occasion, a bunch of us old fogies rented a van and went out for the evening. It was a harrowing trip. Costa Rica is mountainous. The roads are narrow, twisty and dangerous. The Costa Rican highway commission (motto: "What's a guardrail?") does not actually exist.

Nonetheless, we arrived safely at our destination, had a few drinks and started to reflect on how we've changed over the years.

Pretty soon, the conversation got just plain silly.

Slim got the ball rolling.

"Remember 1972 when we graduated?" he asked. "I had long hair down to my shoulders. Look at me now! I've gone from long hair to longing for hair."

Stew went next. In college we called him "The Guzzler."

"We're all getting pretty old," he said. "In 1972 it was KEG. Now it's EKG."

"I've got one," said Dan. "Back then, I was into acid rock. Now it's acid reflux."

Stew wanted to go again.

"How about this one?" he asked. "When we graduated, the big thing was the Rolling Stones. Now I'm worried about kidney stones."

It was my turn.

"Remember when we were always looking for new, hip joints to go to? Now half of us need new hip joints."

Stew was back on his feet.

"In college, I was into growing pot. Now, the only thing I'm growing is a potbelly."

Finally, Gerry chimed in. He had been quiet for the entire evening and, in fact, had been under the weather for most of the trip.

"In 1972," he said. "I was hoping for a BMW. Now, I'm just hoping for a BM."

The other patrons in the restaurant probably wondered why those "old men" seemed hysterical. They might not have been familiar with the old saying, "You laugh best when you can laugh at yourself."