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Sure, call me a "me-too" trend follower, but now that the Pope has jumped on the feeding tube bandwagon, I figured I better get on before the damn wagon gets so crowded that tube supplies run out and prices soar.

I've always been one to jump on a "newsie" trend early.  Back in the days when circus-like news "events" like the Schiavo case consisted mainly of babies falling down wells and miners being trapped in Kentucky or West Virginia coal mines, I did both.

At age two-and-a-half, I was media savvy enough to hurl myself down a well in a neighbor's yard.  It took them eight days to dig me out.  In the meantime, my parents received all new appliances for the kitchen and the laundry room; I built up a substantial trust fund (that I later pissed away on elephant bell pants, wide-collared shirts and gold chains); and we did interviews for every magazine and television show of the day.  (Look up old issues of Life Magazine for the touching photo essay.)


This was in the days before satellite trucks and the like but the amount of media hovering over the well opening for eight days was astounding.  Luckily, I was smart enough to have packed my diaper full of snacks -- and there was plenty of water in the well -- so I survived just fine.

People with nothing better to do with their time drove to the site of the well and built a tent city. Charlatan ministers led prayer vigils while lining their own pockets with money raised ostensibly to help my family.

The entire scene was all I had dreamt it would be when I hurled myself down the well.

At age 18, I skipped college and initiated a mine cave-in that trapped me and three co-workers in a shaft in Kentucky for 13 days. Talk about media attention!

This spectacle was bigger than my well-diving circus.  More faux religious folks ginning up tears while raking in cash; more media with more attractive reporters relating saccharine profiles of all four of us, one at a time; more politicians stopping by for camera ops and bold pronouncements about mine saftey and new legislation...

It was a dream come true.

And I, of course, positioned myself as the spokesman for our group.  I left a small opening in the collapse so I could send hand-written messages out to our would-be rescuers.  I had pre-written every message and had a complete schedule for releasing these tear-jerking tidbits about wanting to see our families again and just wanting to pet our dogs and the rest of the lachrymose nonsense that is part and parcel of these circuses.

My mom and dad got a whole new kitchen this time, donated by a national home building firm.  I got enough money for college. And my fellow trapped miners all did okay, too, though I hogged the media coverage once we were out and they still resent me for it to this day.  (Well, the guy who is still alive resents me.  The other two had black lung.)

Which brings me around to having a feeding tube inserted today.  I don't really need a feeding tube.  I'm perfectly healthy.  But my family needs a few bucks at present.  The girls are approaching college and we'd like to fund their educations as well as purchase a home in Vail and one down in Costa Rica. We need to replace the dishwasher, too.  The refrigerator works fine, but we'd like to have a freezer for the basement so we'd have a place to store a side of beef and all the food folks will be bringing by.

So, yesterday, my wife went out to the surgical supply store and bought everything we need to hook me up.

You'll be hearing about me soon in media reports.  We've already cleared out the backyard for satellite uplink trucks.  And I've asked the neighbors to move their cars off the street.

I'm an old hand at this stuff.

If you're looking to make a few bucks, head over to a costume shop and rent yourself a priest or minister get-up. Or, even better, grab yourself the robe and wooden crucifix garb of the two "Brothers" assisting the Schindlers.  (Have you ever seen so many religious hangers-on as you've seen in the Schiavo circus?  Don't worry.  Mine will be bigger and more over the top!)

This promises to be a very fruitful (and profitable) experience for all who are willing to participate.

Now, excuse me while I make an incision in my abdomen.

This is going to be great!

Originally posted to Bob Johnson on Wed Mar 30, 2005 at 07:25 AM PST.

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