Thursday, September 28, 2006

Wussie Nation

Earlier today, we had a little rain here in Southwest Virginia.

Okay, maybe that's an understatement--we had a downpour in Southwest Virginia.

Now, I hate rain about as much as your average housecat, but even I know how to handle a little storm. You put on a raincoat and a hat and carry an umbrella. If there's thunder and lightning, you try to avoid standing under tall trees, near power lines, or in the middle of open fields. Ideally, if you can swing it, you find a warm, toasty place to stay, eat soup, and laugh at all the poor bastards who are outside getting wet. If you play your cards right, a rainstorm can be a lot of fun.

All day, the news has been telling me that there is a SEVERE THUNDER STORM WARNING in effect. I put it in caps to give you an idea of the newsreaders' tones. This warning has gotten the kind of intense coverage that I usually associate with hurricanes, blizzards, or the death of a head of state. Perhaps it is worth mentioning that I live in the mountains of Southwest Virginia. While these aren't the Rockies or the Himalayas, we still live pretty high up, and the chances of the New River overflowing its banks and flooding out the area are, well, nil. This means that the SEVERE THUNDER STORM WARNING really is just telling us that the electricity might go out or that we might get wet.

I'd like to make fun of the media here. I'd like to say that the news stations that are desperate for disasters and need to boost their ratings, and that the average citizen of my town was too smart to be suckered in. Unfortunately, though, I'd be lying. When my wife went to Wal-Mart, the place was filled with people stocking up on toilet paper, milk, and canned goods.

Just in case.

For all its faults, the TV news can hardly be held responsible for the herd of hillbillies and rednecks who ran for the Wal-Mart like a gang of starving third graders after an ice-cream truck. I guess I just missed the memo, but I don't remember when we all became such a huge bunch of wimps.

Since when is a thunderstorm a major meteorological event? And weather isn't the only thing where we seem to have inflated the negative into the disastrous. For example, when did depression become such an all-purpose diagnosis? Many of my friends have been diagnosed with depression; for some of them, this seems totally reasonable, but it often seems like massive "downer inflation." To put it another way, I'm a pretty happy guy, but when I do the little depression tests in magazines, I generally come off as having a darker personality than August Strindberg mourning his dead mother on five bong hits and a half bottle of absinthe.

When is depression real? Personally, I'd draw the line somewhere around "can't get out of bed in the morning." However, "gets depressed when Summer ends" isn't so much a sign of depression as a natural human reaction. It's reasonable to be a little down sometimes--depression is the shit sandwich that makes the Boston Cream Pie of elation that much tastier.

The other day, I saw an advertisement for medication to combat "restless leg syndrome," which sounds a lot like what my grandma used to call "ants in your pants." As far as I can tell, it seems to be an itch or, alternately, a tendency to kick in your sleep. When did we start medicating nighttime kicking? As someone who has occasionally awakened himself with a nighttime kick, I have two general questions:

1. Are the drugs you get for nighttime kicking any good? I mean, if used injudiciously, can they give you hallucinations or cool dreams like that? Would my insurance provider cover them?

2. What kind of pill-pushing, second rate doctor actually prescribes drugs for this sort of disorder? Are we talking someone along the lines of an Elvis Presley/Liza Minelli--Dr. Feelgood kind of doctor? Where do these doctors work? Are there any in Southwest Virginia?

Well, I have to go...I feel a bout of seasonal depression coming on...


  • The best drug for restless leg syndrome is getting bitchslapped in the middle of the night by the person who is sleeping with you. That's how we cured my sister Kelly, formerly known as The Kellbow.

    By Anonymous Maggie, At October 1, 2006 at 11:55 PM  

  • Actually RLS is totally real. My wife has a minor case of it. One of the major symptoms is having your leg involuntarily bounce up and down (as if you were nervous). Imagine not being able to make your leg stay still for more than a few minutes in a row. Bummer.

    By Anonymous Joey, At October 3, 2006 at 4:19 PM  

  • My sister was in agreement with Maggie when we were kids on vacation. I'd kick the shit out of her at night and she'd beat the shit out of me for the rest of the time. Now you know you actually lived with someone who had RLS. I can relate the many downsides of this next time I see you the least of which is kicking the crap out of some girl your trying to start a relationship with.

    By Anonymous Ben, At October 3, 2006 at 10:13 PM  

  • Actually, you appear to be confusing RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome) with PLMD (Periodic Limb Movement Disorder). A tendency to kick in your sleep would actually be diagnosed as PLMS (Periodic Limb Movement while Sleeping).

    RLS was first documented in the 1600s, and while it can start as early as age 1, onset is slow and often gets worse as the person ages. RLS in children is often described as "growing pains."

    Didn't know that, didja?!

    Jinja Out

    By Anonymous Jinja, At October 20, 2006 at 5:00 PM  

  • Oh, and here in Northern California, the first heavy rainstorm of the "winter" is inevitably called the storm of the year. For example, our first rainstorm this year will be called "The Storm of '06."

    Like this is 1806 and we're claim shares of North Dakota rather than a few inches of rain in our condos in San Francisco.

    Jinja Out

    By Anonymous Jinja, At October 20, 2006 at 5:03 PM  

  • Jinja-
    Thanks for clearing that up. And for telling me about the Storm of the Year. Fantastic!

    By Blogger Crankster, At October 21, 2006 at 11:14 AM  

  • I'll let you know when the Storm of '06 hits, so you can point and laugh at the Californians :-)

    Jinja Out

    By Anonymous Jinja, At October 21, 2006 at 3:52 PM  

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