13 February 2010

Mind Warp: Complete

 My dissertation research involves reading 150-year-old hospital records, which means I spend 40 to 50 hours a week reading about people suffering from horrible diseases and receiving often-horrible treatments (heavy metals: good for what ails ya!).  This has apparently warped my conception of "funny" into what most of my friends and relations would place squarely under "morbid".  Such as the 6-year-old with a tapeworm whose own history of his illness was taken in his mother's absence, and earnestly entered by the doctor: "[a piece of tapeworm] was like a broad riband and as long as his finger ... he [the boy] is fond of sugar and butter." (LHB1/129/2/12)  Cute, right?  I mean, sad, obviously, but a little bit funny?  ... Anyone?

I think it's the kid's irrepressible-by-tapeworm enthusiasm sneaking through that cracks me up.

This leads to, I imagine, a general dread when people ask about my research and I start by saying, "Oh, this was funny!"  But you have to find some reason to laugh, or all your free time is taken up trying to cry quietly in a public restroom stall and/or plotting exactly which powers-that-be (Social Darwinists?  Hospital administrators?  Doctors?  The power-drunk and paternalistic bourgeois?  That hospital clerk who can't write an intake record less than four pages long?) you will slap in the face, and how hard, when you finally get your time machine.  Which is kind of my philosophy on dealing with heavy shit in general, when you get down to it, so there you go.

ETA: And now I'm imagining the effect in Victorian Britain if I were to appear from the future in my denim trousers and short haircut to deal massive and richly-deserved roundhouse face slaps to, like, dudes saying disease decreases the surplus population, and then wink away back to the present.  And it is hilarious.  I say, "You just got slapped!" or, I don't know, "Slap justice!" to avoid copyright infringement on How I Met Your Mother and disappear, and they all stand around blinking and stunned for a while while one guy clutches his muttonchop whiskers.  And then one dude finally says, "I say, that was taking the point a bit far, old chum; my mistress was diagnosed with consumption just a se'nnight past."  I wish I could draw comics so you all could see it too.


Lynn said...

I wish to see this in comic form, too! My dissertation research doesn't generate anything nearly so amusing!

Auntie Maim said...

It's probably not the topic so much as me hanging around in Scotland trying to entertain myself while my roommates are away. And apparently going quietly mad. But at least in an entertaining way for myself and others! :)