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Rusty Saber

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by Joe McAdoo

Over the years, the Rusty Saber has been written in a lot of places. I've written columns while reclining on Florida and Hawaii beaches (a tough and lonely job, but somebody had to do it). I've written columns on airplanes and in airport waiting rooms.

Once, in London, I scribbled one by hand on pieces of scrap paper and faxed it back to SBJ. Amazingly, the column made it into print. Amazing because my penmanship is every bit as readable as doctor-written prescriptions.

With the advent of a laptop computer, Rusty Sabers have been written on the bank of a river, from an Oklahoma state park, in the front seat of a car, and from a hospital room.

Say, what? A hospital room? I may have written the column in a lot of places, but never a hospital room. Wait. That's changing as we speak. History is being made before your eyes. This column is being written on my laptop computer sitting astride the table provided for patients to eat on while lying in bed.

By the way, if human beings were intended to eat while lying down, the neck would be longer and more bendable, and the mouth would be in the middle of the forehead. Eating from hospital tables while in a semi-prone position is the root cause of severe food stains on pajamas, as well as various assorted bites of food scattered about hospital beds.

This is a first. Never before has the Rusty Saber been written in a hospital room, and, to my knowledge, it has never been written while lying down. Who says, "there's nothing new under the sun"?

I'm like "Star Trek"; I'm going where no man (this man, at least) has gone before. You may be asking: Why would you want to write a column in a hospital room? Surely there must be a more suitable locale.

Well, I have this thing about meeting my deadlines on time. I write the column wherever I happen to be when the deadline rolls around. I'm writing this on deadline day, a day when I happen to be in a prone position in a hospital bed.

When I was younger, I was disgustingly healthy the kind of person HMOs and health insurance companies dream about. Nothing ever went wrong with me. Then my warranty expired.

You know what happens when the warranty on your car expires; everything goes wrong. Same deal with me. Since I have a healthy head of hair, a new fully warranted body should be driven under the hair.

The longest ongoing warranty problem I've had with my body has been my heart. Actually, the heart isn't the problem; it would be fine if those renegade arteries providing blood to the heart would behave. If I could, I'd fire my arteries.

The system has been re-plumbed once and reamed out twice. But you know how it is when your warranty expires: It's just one darn thing after another. I'm lying in bed, laptop at my command, waiting to undergo a second coronary bypass surgery.

I should feel guilty for taking more than my share. No one should have more than one; here I am awaiting my second one. Believe me, I don't want to be a hog about it; I'd be more than happy to give mine to someone else, but my doctors agree that it's OK to exceed my share.

My deadline is about a week and a half prior to publication. By the time you read this, I hope to be the proud recipient of a newly reconfigured plumbing system, and I hope the incisions will have healed to the point where I won't say "ouch!" every time I move.

No offense to the hospital, but I hope this is the first and last column I'll write from here.

A reminder to readers: Several have submitted their 10 all-time favorite movies. More are needed in order to include more movies. Have you sent in yours? Surely you won't turn down a man lying on his back in the hospital. Send your 10 favorite movies to: Rusty Movie Poll, PO Box 1365, Springfield 65801; fax 831-5478; or e-mail sbj@

(Joe McAdoo is former chairman of the communication department at Drury College and a Springfield public relations consultant.)

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