The Karparian Curse and the Transfer Trifecta

It was time for my annual physical and I was in the examining room of Young Doctor Bartos, when in she walked, smile on face, clipboard in hand.

Greetings dispensed with, her eyes glued to the clipboard, she checked my lab results.

OK … good, good … excellent … good … excellent — Oops!

“Oops?” I snapped. “Oops what?”

“Your RS, WF and BT levels are low — very low. They were fine last year, but now –“

“RS, WF, BT levels?” I interrupted. “What’re they?”

“Refined sugar, white flour and butter,” she said.

“Refined sugar, white flour and butter?” I repeated robotically. “I never knew they were even measured.”

“They sure are,” she said, “since they regulate the Karparian Transfer Exchange.”

“Karparian what?” I said. “Sounds serious.”

“It is,” she said. “If it goes into a tailspin, so do you.”

“You mean,” I said, “… as in finis?”

“Mais oui,” she said, nodding gravely. “Do you know why your levels are so low?”

“I think so,” I said. “Last year, in order to regain my boyish figure, I cut back on all those things.”

“I’m sure that explains it,” she said. “But now you’ve got to raise those levels. Luckily, it’s easy enough to do.”

“Or in my case, it’s too easy to do,” I said. “Just like losing my boyish figure.”

We chatted some more, then I left, her dire warning still ringing in my ears.

But I wasn’t about to let the buck stop there. Hey, I’d seen enough episodes of House to know I needed a second opinion. And I knew where to get it — from My Brother the Doctor.

Fraternal frolics

I called him and told him about my checkup with YDB and the lab results.

“So your RS, WF and BT levels were low?” he said. “You know the numbers?”

“Got ’em right here,” I said, and read them off.

A long moment passed.

“Well, she’s right,” he said. “They’re low — really, really low.”

“So what’s that mean, in layman’s terms?” I said.

“Didn’t she explain it?” he said.

“She did,” I said. “But I couldn’t really understand her.”

“Maybe you could have, if you hadn’t flunked biology three times.”

“I only flunked it twice,” I said, too defensively for my liking.

“Of course,” he said. “But that’s because you only took it twice.”

“But who’s counting, right?” I said. “Anyway, my resume aside, what about the Karparian Transfer meshegas?”

“Well,” he said, “if one or two of the levels were low, you’d be fine.”

“But it’s all three,” I said. “So I’m not fine?”

“If you want, you can think of it as, ‘So far, so good,'” he said. Then he added, “Which is what the guy who jumped off the Empire State Building yelled as he flew by the 50th floor.”

“Cute … and sympathetic,” I said. “So what’s it all mean?”

“It means,” he said, “if you don’t raise those levels, and soon, you’ll be winning what we pathologists fondly call ‘The Karparian Transfer Trifecta.'”

“Can you put that in plain English?” I said.

“Sure,” he said. “It means you’ve got a medical triple whammy on the horizon.”

“But I feel fine,” I protested.

“So did all the other Trifecta winners … at least for a little while.”

“And then what?”

“Well, there’s good news … and there’s bad news,” he said.

“What’s the good news?” I said.

“The good news is it’s painless and there’s no long-term suffering.”

“And the bad news?” I said.

“Since you love storytelling, I’ll put it in that format,” he said.

“Go ahead,” I said, involuntarily clenching my jaws.

“One night in the not-too-distant future you’re leaving the Downhill Grill after partaking of your usual one beer and three bowls of free popcorn. And as soon as you step out the door, guess what?”

“I step into a huge pile of dog doo-doo,” I said.

“You wish,” he said. “Nope, you step out the door and the next thing you know you’ve stepped through the Pearly Gates.”

“The Pearly Gates?”

“Actually,” he said, “since you’re not a believer, the next thing you’ll know is nothin’ about nothin’.”

“That sounds terrible,” I said.

“Not for you,” he said. “But it’d be a major bummer for all the paying customers.”

I mulled over what he said, unable to shake the image of me sprawled out on the sidewalk — cold, stiff, and as dead as the dinos.

“Hey,” he said, “you still there?”

“Yeah,” I said, weakly.

“One other thing,” he said. “Caffeine increases those levels and how long they stay elevated. So it’d be good if you ingest more coffee too.”

“Only way that could happen would be if Starbucks comes out with a double-espresso IV.”

“Don’t laugh,” he said. “And don’t suggest it to them either.”

“No need to worry about that,” I said. “Especially the laughing.”

“All right, I gotta go,” he said. “You know what you’ve gotta do, so just do it.”

“OK,” I said.

“And, in the immortal words of Socrates, don’t take no wooden drachmas.”

“Will do,” I said. “And in the immortal words of the AMA, ‘don’t take no Medicare.'”

While it was an unsettling conversation, it ended well, since I got in the last word. And the only thing I like more than having the last word with my bro is having the last word in my column. And because of that, here goes:

If you see me sitting in the nook of Early Dawn Confections, scarfing a butter-slathered cinnamon roll, washing it down with two or three cups of java, don’t rush to a premature conclusion.

I’m not being a glutton — I’m just following doctors’ orders.


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