by J. R. Practix

Acetaminophen: (n.) an analgesic drug used to treat headaches, arthritis, etc., and also to reduce fever, often as an alternative to aspirin. Proprietary names include Tylenol.

You’re not supposed to use a lot of aspirin. I didn’t know that. It makes your stomach bleed. Perhaps it’s an old wives’ tale, but they say that every aspirin causes your stomach to secrete one teaspoon of blood. Makes you wonder how many old wives died of blood seepage.

I learned this the hard way–not about old wives, but about aspirin.

I took three young men into my life who were in the middle of a custody battle with their abusive biological father. On one of his visitation weekends, he snatched the young men and hid them out like they were pretending to be the Hole in the Wall Gang.

I was distressed. I couldn’t sleep. The lack of sleep made me ache all over as I actively pursued finding my new young friends. I began to eat aspirin like they were popping out of a Pez dispenser.

About two weeks later, I was walking from my bathroom to my bedroom when the surroundings began to shake and shimmer like I was in an earthquake. I barely made it to my bed, to grab my mattress, before I fell to the ground.

Well, long story short, it turned out I had one of those stomach bleeds due to overuse of aspirin. It was not a sickness unto death–just one brought on by stupidity.

But since then, I have had to write on medical forms that I am allergic to aspirin, although I probably am not. Mostly, I discovered that I was allergic to stupidity.

Since then I have been taking acetaminophen for pain, weariness and aches. Honestly, I’m not so sure the product works as well as aspirin. I would refer to it as “aspirin light.” Or decaffeinated aspirin.

But it does help a little, and honestly, I was not particularly fond of my tummy bleed. So I will continue to take that product, even though, amazingly enough, it turns my poop green.

I do realize that at this point, that I have shared too much information. But if you don’t put personal notes into a blog every once in a while, it becomes stale and pedantic.

So hoping that you remember more about acetaminophen than my poop, I will close for now.


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abysmal: (adj.) extremely bad; appalling

I was always glad it was pink. I think there’s something nice about it being pink. Blue would be weird. Certainly not green. I guess yellow would have been a possibility.

I’m talking about Pepto-abysmal.

I took it as a kid. Somewhere along the line in my childhood–about eight years of age–my parents made the transition from the old-time use of castor oil to Pepto-abysmal. Now caster oil tasted like what I imagine licking tar off of hot pavement on a summer day would be like.


And for some reason, they wanted you to drink it straight down, which always led to gagging and sometimes throwing up, which would convince your parents that the stuff worked, because you would feel better after vomiting, and caster oil would get the props for the cure.

I was so glad when Pepto-abysmal made its introduction.

Am I weird? I kind of liked the stuff. Matter of fact, every once in a while I would go to the medicine cabinet and take a swig. (You had to be careful, because it would leave a tell-tale pink chalk residue on your lips–a little difficult to explain to your over-scrutinizing mother why you’re “hitting the pink stuff.”)

I think my mother once gave me Pepto-abysmal because I had a headache. For a season it was the magic cure–so common in the average household that they developed this big quart-sized version. It was huge.

But if there was something aggravating, dastardly or nasty stirring in your gut, Pepto was well-prepared to go down there and do battle. My mother was convinced that she saved the life of my young nephew, who had an appendicitis attack, by giving him Pepto-abysmal. She insisted  that when they removed the appendix, they found it encased in a pink fluid. Being a kid, I never realized this was impossible. And it further increased the mystique of the magical fluid.

Now I’m not stupid–I know that it’s really Pepto-Bismol, but I thought it was cute to call it Pepto–abysmal, considering that it takes care of things–gut-wrenching things–that are abysmal.

If you didn’t find it cute, I am sorry. Maybe you need to be “Pepto’d up.”


by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

Abuzz: (adj.) filled with a continuous buzzing sound.

I probably would have made the mistake of advertising the Beatles album, Let It Be, with some sort of corny phrase, like, “Let it bee. The world is abuzz with the new sounds.”

I do think there was a time in this country when such a play on words would have been considered extremely intelligent,  or at least appreciated as being whimsical and cute. Now if you would play on the word ‘abuzz,’ people groan, acting like you’re Rip van Winkle, waking up from a twenty-year-nap, into a world of smart phones and tweeting instead of computer disks and spiked hair.

What has happened? Because the word “abuzz” is really kind of nice. Matter of fact, I’m sure that sometime, maybe even in the last two weeks, I have used it or even inserted it into one of my essays. But if you become artsy in using it, you suddenly become “Grandpa,” trying to be too silly, making the kids laugh by tickling their ribs.

Wouldn’t it be important, though, to keep a little cleverness in our society, so that not everything is black and white, being chased by crap brown? Does everything have to be straight-forward, and if it isn’t, mystical or fantasy related?

I’m sure if people watch old episodes of Mary Tyler Moore, or especially MASH, their heads must spin with the rapid-fire use of language, which is laced with so many double entendres and plays on words that you almost have to have a program to keep up with them.

I would agree with the younger set–some of that scripting was a bit over the top. But I think the absence of dialogue, sweetness, gentle nudgings and even coined phrases in our present entertainment and even political scene is just downright drab.

So I will freely admit that I should be careful not to use the word “abuzz” in relationship to anything resembling a bee or a fly–that is, if you will admit to ME that describing the color green as “greenish” … is absolutely boring.