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SAVAGE: Loose thoughts: The Gnomes won’t let me sleep

• Aug 14, 2018 at 3:00 PM

If you’re among the half-dozen or so people who read my column, you know about The Gnomes. They’re the guys in pointy hats who live in my head, constantly coming up with new ideas and dumping them in my psychic lap, leaving me in charge of planning and execution.

They’re night owls, so they just get cranking about the time my head hits the pillow. I appreciate their input, but I wish they would keep more regular hours.

Now that I’ve moved into stand-up comedy, The Gnomes are up all night rehashing my life and turning my true stories into jokes, spitting out one-liners like a Pez dispenser. To their credit, they are producing some usable material, so I keep a pen and notebook on the night table and try to keep my complaining to a minimum. I’m just glad they don’t send me out for pizza at 3 a.m.

Here are a few pieces of my life they’ve been dissecting this past week.

Out of the blue, my left arm has gone numb. So, to a lesser extent, have my right arm and both feet. Last week, I visited a specialist who appeared to be about 12 years old (I’ve reached the age where all doctors look like kids). She examined me, and then pronounced that I have acute neuropathy. Unable to resist a joke, I replied that I don’t know where my neuropathy is located, but I can guaran-darn-tee you it’s cute.

She explained further that this is likely an unsolvable mystery. I told her I’d like a second opinion and, without missing a beat, she said, “Well you could stand to lose a few pounds.” I invited her to take my place on stage at my next show, as she clearly has the comic chops for it.

Another true story that I don’t usually share, but I might as well spill it before The Gnomes do: I was pregnant 10 times. Ten. After the third one, they just walk out.

Childbirth is, in my honest opinion, a completely overrated experience. I was in labor with my first, standing on a chair, trying to force open a second-story window. I had every intention of jumping.

Some chick with a clipboard comes in, sees me on the chair, and cool as a cucumber, wants to discuss my “birthing plan.” “Yes, certainly,” I said, “I have a plan. Let’s get it the heck out. Right now.”

She asked me, with a straight face, if I was considering any medication for “discomfort,” and which ones. My response was less than diplomatic: “What do I look like, a pharmacist? All of ‘em!”

My weight’s always been an issue. I’m actually in a medical weight-loss program at a local hospital. At the clinic, a sign on the wall says, “Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels.” Whoever came up with that phrase has some cut-rate, off-brand taste buds. In the space I inhabit, every food is delicious, even the ones I don’t like! Doughnuts is my favorite food group.

And gravy! It’s the hero of the cuisine realm! Gravy is both a sauce and a beverage. It’s a real utility player.

Even our language loves gravy. Lots of money without having to work hard? You’re on the gravy train. Did you get more than expected? The rest is gravy! And my personal favorite: “Good gravy!” Which just says it all, really.

I do go to a gym, and they make it really attractive to attend. At my Planet Fitness, Monday is free pizza night, and on Tuesday mornings they have a bagel bar. Does no one see the dichotomy in this?

I think rehab groups could take a lesson from Planet Fitness about attracting membership. Picture a sign outside Narcotics Anonymous: “Come on in, we’ve got cocaine.” New motto at AA meetings: “We know you’re struggling — here’s a little nip to tide you over.”

Last month, I flew from Grand Rapids up to Toronto in a plane so small that that they weigh you before boarding. There is no reality in which I am stepping on a scale in public. I’m pretty sure the gate attendant had a previous career guessing people’s weight at a traveling carnival, because she sized me up pretty quickly and pointed me to a seat.

I’m buckling in, feeling pretty good about myself, then she sits two small tourists across the aisle for balance. Two. So they’re looking over at me, laughing and talking in Japanese. I lean over, smile politely and say, “Ohio gozaimas. Hajime mashite. Genkidesuka (Good morning. Nice to meet you! How are you?)” And I just let that sink in for a moment.

Now these guys did not know that those three phrases are all the Japanese I speak. But it kept them from talking smack about me the whole rest of the flight.

Yesterday, we’re painting a ceiling, and my husband said, “Bring me a stepladder.” And I thought, “Is there any other kind? Aren’t steps the very heart and soul of a ladder?” Shimmying up two unattached poles with a gallon of paint in one hand and a roller in the other would be high entertainment, indeed.

The same goes for an ink pen. “Give me an ink pen.” What the heck else would you put in it?

Maybe gravy.

— By Shari Savage, Tribune community columnist

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