Every day we hear about a new medical breakthrough, but how many remain on the stage two months later?
Well, I came across a genunine one today, destined for permanence. The lead article in this month's Journal of Questionable Diseases, it's entitled "Finally! Help for the Dreaded Bad Manners Syndrome," and I reprint it here.
Five-year-old Timmy Castelfiore-Padilla (not his real name) skitters around the examining room like ball lightning, colliding ferociously with walls, furniture, and people.
"Look out, loser!" he screams at his mother, lingering long enough to kick her shin. Ms. Castelfiore-Padilla cries out and falls to the floor in agony, hissing between clenched teeth, "You see, Doctor? He's always like that."
But don't jump to conclusions, for Timmy is not a hideous monster. Along with thousands of other unfortunate children, he suffers from Bad Manners Syndrome, or "BMS."
Timmy’s doctor, O. Dayton Splint, MD, is a world-renowned BMS authority. Thanks to dedicated scientists like him, we've come a long way toward understanding this scourge. Dr. Splint outlines the history of BMS. "It's hard to believe," he explains, "that until a few years ago these were 'nasty' children, and we treated them accordingly. Of course, we persecuted adults in those days who later turned out to suffer Ethical Deficit Syndrome, Corporate Greed Disorder, and other chemical imbalances we didn’t recognize at the time.
"Through research, we learned that these kids are actually victims of their own physiology. Finally the government took notice and began a crash program to find the cause and cure."
Ignoring Dr. Splint, little Timmy has made his way into the clinic's backyard, where he's found a hatchet and has begun to hack apart a wooden fence.
Undaunted, Dr. Splint continues. "Suddenly, these kids were no longer criminals, but healthcare consumers. Institutions everywhere got grants to treat Bad Manners Syndrome with a variety of drugs. But since most patients went on to state prisons regardless of treatment, we figured we'd better look into it further."
A nurse finds Timmy in the backyard and says something to him. He turns toward her, a carnivorous expression on his face, and, hatchet in hand, gleefuly advances.
Dr. Splint continues, "We eventually discovered that Bad Manners Syndrome results from an abnormality in a particular protein, called 'obnoxin.' Its molecules, which are normally tightly coiled, begin to unwind in these children, and that's when demonic behavior begins."
In the backyard, a determined Timmy takes craftsmanlike swipes at the nurse. Obviously an old hand at such play, she grabs Timmy's wrist, disarms him, and tosses him onto his back.
His filthy epithets penetrate the clinic's thick plate windows.
"Knowing the cause," says Dr. Splint, "we've gone on to develop an effective treatment: we simply re-compact the uncoiled obnoxin. Compaction must be done rather forcefully, and in an area where a good deal of it is stored."
The nurse has comfortably seated herself and placed little Timmy face-down across her legs. With a strong right arm, she begins to compact the errant obnoxin in his buttocks. Whap! Whap! Whap! His yells announce another successful treatment. The molecules are compacting just right.
Concludes a satisfied Dr. Splint, "It's the most dramatic cure since penicillin."