Sometimes, when I'm waiting my turn in the barbershop or a dentist's office, I'll pick up a copy of one of the outdoors magazines and look through it. I like to read the true-experience articles, like the one about the hunter who went out for a prowl in the woods with a .410-gauge shotgun and who, after he had shot up all of his shells but one—and that one was damp from a leaking canteen—walked into a clearing and saw across it a rabid peccary, frothing at the mouth and ready to charge. It was what the zoologists call a white-lipped peccary—and at that point I was a bit white-lipped myself. I like these articles because, as they say these days, I can identify with them.
My wild life began with a visit to a doctor for a physical examination when I was 45 years old. He told me: "The tests have all been taken, the lab reports are in. In simple layman's language: you're drinking too much gin."
"I take a hell of a lot of umbrage at that statement, Doctor. Which do you think you are doing: composing or diagnosing?"
"Both. C. P. Snow calls it the Third Culture."
"Well, I'll tell you what. Why don't you send my bill to C.P. Snow?"
"Now, now, now. Don't get excited. I'm addicted to couplets, the way you are to gin. I am, you should know, an identical twin."
I got up to leave. I didn't at all like his complacent, love-me-love-my-doggerel manner. I said: "A man in my rundown condition wants something more from his physician than badly scanned iambic verse. I am already feeling worse. Physician, heal thyself! Beware: I may resort to Medicare. Who's getting all the therapy from consultation—you or me? And which of us collects the fee?"
He knew he had met his match and said, "Turn it off, man. Sit down, please. You are drinking too much, and you need to get some exercise. Is there anything at all that requires some physical exertion that you do like to do?"
"I used to like yoga, but I could never get in the lotus position, so I gave it up."
"What about fishing? Or hunting?"