It was during a leap day in February of 1960 when I happened to develop a terminal illness caused by a rarely communicable strand of bacteria only found in the digestive tract of four known creatures, one being a species of fowl for which I had a great sweet-tooth but prefer not to mention in specifics as to not tarnish the good name of such a divine and delectable creature. It was on this auspicious day that three thousand Moroccans were left slain in the wake of an earthquake that nearly destroyed the city of Agadir. And of course because tragedy is known to come in threes, cartoonist Bil Keane debuted The Family Circus on that very same day.
While the original diagnosis for my previously and consequently unnamed virus was terminal by a most-highly trusted phrenologist with a specialty in males age twenty to twenty-two, I could not help but seek a second, third, and fifth opinion, skipping the fourth as to save both time and money. Each of the consecutive and congruent assessments ascertained that I somehow developed a rather nasty case of Oxyurinae Enteritir, or to the layman: Duck Plague. While this affliction is known to cause a high mortality rate in ducks, to humans it is no worse than a mild bout with the flu or a weekend with one’s mother-in-law.
My sad physical state left me bed-ridden for the better part of three weeks in which I was not allowed starches, gluten, extreme heat, soft cheeses, extreme cold, daylight, or a glass of twelve year old single malt scotch, 10 year and 15 year remaining questionable but one cannot expect to live as a barbarian for the sake of one’s immune system. Had I gone without cheating on such strict orders I am told my recovery would have been a fraction of the time, but I consider having my cake and eating it too to be a small yet Pyrrhic victory.
In an unforeseen twist of fate, one of the symptoms of my illness caused me to excessively lactate although realistically excessive being anything past the point of “at all” considering my gender’s past history, or lack thereof, as it pertains to the production of milk, at least in human form. Although I earlier attributed such a phenomenon to my illness, it remains unclear how said side-effect came about. One explanation was given to me by a witch doctor I befriended in the least traveled portion of Borneo (Kuching being the most traveled). The Witch Doctor informed me that the Dayak Fruit Bat, a rare animal, indigenous to Borneo is one of only a few species in the known world, in which the phenomenon of male lactation can and does occur. The witch doctor went on to mention that certain homeopathic antibiotics, several of which I had been on during the early days of my illness, are known to contain guano mined on the neighboring island of Sulawesi, formerly known as Celebes. While the transmittance of said bodily function through bat feces seems far-fetched, the coincidence and possible scientific breakthrough does seem astonishing.
Even more astounding was a brief twenty-three hour period on day three of the Duck Plague Cycle where I somehow simultaneously entered both a fugue state and suffered from a terrible case of Synchronous Diaphragmatic Flutter, also known as the hiccups. Fortunately, upon the advisement of my attorney some years prior, I had authorized that if I were ever to enter such a state for any length of time I would immediately be put on display to the scientific community and children willing to spend their taffy allowance at a very reasonable but profitable rate. Well, I will have you know that for the remaining twenty-one hours, taking in to account examination and consultation with an intellectual property lawyer as to not infringe on any one else that may have had a similar idea, I was able to garner the lump sum of one thousand and ninety two dollars in American currency and an additional one million, two-hundred and seventy-six thousand, five hundred and twenty-four Icelandic Kronurs, or roughly ten thousand dollars US. Incidentally, all but seventy Kronurs, or 55 American cents, were put in to three separate funds: one being for scientific research on the lactation phenomena of the Dayak Fruit Bats of Borneo, the second a gift to benefit the aid of the survivors of the Agadir earthquake, and the third an effort to ban Bil Keane’s The Family Circus from all major publications, an effort that nearly bankrupted me by leap day of 1984.