I spend a great amount of time thinking about what to write about in any given week. I don’t mean, sorting through all the choices. I mean thinking … about what … to write … about.

Someone asked me the other day if I write every day. Holy moley. I think about writing every day, but the actual writing tends to come in a blur right before my deadline.

So, imagine my surprise, when I found myself thinking about things I didn’t want to write about.

Obviously, death came immediately to mind. If you are a regular reader, you know it isn’t something I avoid talking about, I’m just tired of writing about it. To write about death, there has to have been a death in my life. I don’t want anymore of that — not my family, not my friends, not my pets, nobody.

On the pet front though, we finally have some good news. Our newest cat, Wolfie (don’t ask), has a heart murmur that had not been noticed while at he was the Humane Association. We took him for an electrocardiogram to determine how serious the problem was.

He got a clean bill of health. His heart murmur is caused by two slow closing valves, but apparently that isn’t much of a problem in the world of kitty cardiology. That’s the first time in two years a vet has had any good news for us. I wonder if our vet could help with the pains in my stomach …

Oh, back to the primary topic.

In thinking about what I hoped never to have to write about, I think one of the biggest worries is the answer to the trivia question: “I’m standing waist deep in the Amazon River. What could possibly happen to me worse than an attack by a school of piranha?” Your initial reaction is “Nothing could be worse,” right? But if that was true, then this question wouldn’t be attached to a trivia contest, would it?

Now, before we go on, you need to know that this is an unpleasant subject, especially to males, interesting though it may be. If you might be embarrassed by talk about what might happen if you take a leak in the Amazon River, or if you are generally regarded by your friends as squeamish, skip this bit.

The Amazon’s true horror, for me, comes in the form of the Candiru, which is a fish that can, and occasionally does, swim into a man’s urethra. It’s about the size and length of a smallish sardine, generally speaking, and it is usually found in the gills of bigger fish, sucking on blood. How do you like it so far?

Part of the urban legend, or jungle legend I suppose, is that it can swim up a man’s urine stream and … well … you know. That can’t happen, but the rest of it can and has happened.

But, since I don’t want to write about it, and Sheri hasn’t gone to Bible study yet this week (which is how we adjudge the embarrassment level of anything I may be doing: Can she hold up her head at Bible study?), I will stop there. It you must know more, go to the Animal Planet website and search for Candiru.

Another thing I don’t want to write about is riding shotgun in a clown car. No offense to clowns, of course, but the thought of being cooped up with all those Jockos, Bozos, Bongos, Chuckles, Jingles, Raffles and Shirleys, Sheilas, Bettys, Candys and Hermiones, all screaming: “You’ve got your foot in my kidney!”; “Which one of you clowns ate garlic bread before getting in the car?”; “My urethra hurts since I got back from the Amazon!” and the ever-popular, “That’s not the door handle.”

As you can see, there are plenty of things worse than cancer to write about. Such as going to a Carpenters concert (oh, she’s … never mind). Or being closed in a very small room with noted ’60’s celebrity Tiny Tim, with or without his ukelele (oh, he’s … never mind). Or getting a tattoo — I’m too big a coward to get a tattoo.

And so on. You can surely come up with lots of things not to write about. In fact, if you always wanted to be a writer, but just couldn’t, it gives you the perfect solution. You can tell people, “Why yes, I am a writer. I’m just in a phase now where I’m focusing on things not to write about.”

Jim Arnold is a former copy editor for the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel. To read more about his journey through cancer, visit his blog, findingthepony.blogspot.com.


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