A guy I know takes several medications daily and he's always worried about "side effects." The other day I asked him why he was so worried and he said that the medication was supposed to relieve X or minimize Y or maximize Z but in some people it also did "other stuff."
"What kind of other stuff," I asked?
"Well, I dunno, but it's never good. That's why they're called side effects. Effects on the side, like getting a helping of fried okra at Luby's when you didn't ask for it."
"I like fried okra," I said, thinking about my fried okra-hating cholesterol level.
"A side effect," he continued, "is like finding hollandaise sauce on your chocolate ice cream, or chocolate ice cream on your steamed asparagus. Not a good thing."
I thought about the chocolate ice cream and asparagus and, you know, it might just work with some candied ginger and a dash of freshly ground black pepper. Note to self ...
I said, "Aw, come on! You're such a Debbie Downer," and by the look he shot me I was sure he was taking downers, too. OK, time for Plan B.
"Suppose," I said, "a side effect produced an unexpected but good thing, like suddenly being able to play the piano or juggle. That would be cool, don't you think?"
I was on a roll. "Or what if a side effect was to improve your vision or make you look like Harrison Ford." I thought about his wife who actually does look like Harrison Ford and immediately regretted that remark.
But, I was on a roll, take no prisoners, victory or death! "Why does a side effect always have to be a bad thing? A side effect could be cool. Occupy Side Effects, I say!"
My friend went quiet for a moment, deep in thought. Finally, he looked up and said, "Well, there is this one thing I noticed with my blood pressure medicine."
I thought, "OK, well, if he's going to tell me about a side effect that lasts over 4 hours, I really don't want to know. Awkward!"
But, he said, "I can talk to animals. Well, not all animals. Mostly birds."
"You can talk to birds," I said, suppressing the Obvious Teed-Up Softball - Let me guess, you Tweet them! Rather, I let my comment hang in the air.
"Yeah," he said, "it's uncanny. I can go out into the back yard and talk to the doves, the mockingbirds, blue jays, starlings and even ducks down by the pond. I can coo, chich-chich, raaaaak, breep breep and awk-awk-awk and, well, tell them anything."
"What exactly do you say to the birds," I ventured.
"Oh, anything and everything. How I'm feeling, politics, jokes, TV show reviews. Apparently, the birds are great fans of Parks and Recreation. Who knew?"
My friend was growing quite animated, walking around like a pigeon, then spreading his wings like a goose and hopping like a robin.
I couldn't resist. "And, what exactly do the birds say back to you?" I asked hopefully.
"Well," he replied smiling, "nothing yet. Just a bunch of twitter-jabber. But, I'm starting this new diuretic next week and I have high hopes. Yes, high hopes, indeed!"