Encouraged by my generally positive attitude about dealing with cancer, a number of my married, male friends suggested I seize the opportunity of having a terminal illness and kick it up a notch. This unorthodox approach to hospice care — independently suggested by several — essentially involved turning my modest bachelor pad into a modern-day, suburban version of Caligula’s Rome. The basic idea would be to live out my days in non-stop partying mode, stocking my 1500-square-foot house and surrounding yard with professional female entertainers of all stripes. Some might be outfitted as mermaids frolicking in the pool. Others might be tasked with feeding chemo pills to me and peeled grapes to my friends; fanning us with palm fronds as we watched football on television. Still others might be wearing little more than roller skates as they delivered pitchers of ice-cold Martinis or barons of beef on large platters. And some might even get dressed occasionally in order to take Chopper and Kaley for their twice-daily walks so I could get plenty of rest. You get the picture. All the while, I’d be burning through my savings account, my 401(k) retirement fund and my home equity like a prairie fire roaring across dry, autumn grass. And the party would last until I was dead.
Men. No wonder women hate us.
This was a generally harmless vision. Just idle talk — the sort that is commonly cooked up when married guys kid around and project their wildest fantasies onto the lives of their single buddies.
But one of my friends — John Glionna (pictured at center in Dennis Hopper T-shirt) — had the stunningly bad judgment to share this lusty vision of home health care with my big sister Kathleen during a recent phone conversation. Kathleen was having none of it, even jokingly, and even though she knows John very well and was in no way surprised to hear this kind of perverted idea emerge from his completely unfiltered brain. Still, the conversation didn’t last long. Kathleen just told John to grow up. Then she just hung up. Then she got back to cleaning this, rearranging that and planning the next healthy meal. That’s how women help out loved ones when they get sick.
Now John is visiting me this week with my other longtime buddy Mike Anton. The three of us have known one another and been close friends since the early 1980s, when we were all newspaper reporters in Kansas City. We had lots of fun back in those days, and in subsequent years when we’d get together for regular reunions in places like Las Vegas, Florida or California. John and Mike are both happily married now, both working as reporters for the Los Angeles Times. We’re just hanging out, talking, cooking on the grill, drinking some beers and having fun. I hate to disappoint anyone, but it’s all pretty boring compared to the Caligula scenario outlined above. We are watching some football, of course, but no one is coasting around my house on roller skates. It’s just us. My only nod to decadence was to buy a bottle of Zing-Zang Bloody Mary mix in case we felt like having a drink before noon one day.
So that’s it. That’s what ‘Guy Therapy’ really looks like. It may not be as productive, but in my mind it’s every bit as important as the Kathleen kind.