read the warning label

There’s a pill for everything, you know. Not that that puts pharmaceuticals in any special category. There’s an anything for everything—just a click away. Still, all those meds you see advertised on TV, targeted particularly to people who look to be about my age, people who are “having trouble” breathing or peeing or digesting or remembering. It’s become a cliché: all old people do is take pills.Well, that ain’t me. I have no prescriptions and take no medications. At least that’s what I say every time I fill out medical history forms. In fact, I’m just about a perfect human specimen, according to such documents, and I’m generally able to hold on to the notion that when I fill out these forms I’m conveying the spirit of the truth if not all the boring minutiae.

Buzzoffjackzac is the first of a new generation of Male Mood Modulators (MM&Ms), and comes in six flavors (regular, peanut, lemon, motor oil, beer and dirt). It is administered to the male by the female from a safe distance using a tranquilizer gun. In clinical tests, the most commonly reported adverse events were headaches, flushing, and 2-5 years for aggravated assault.
Medespisemethene is a Class I Anahydrous Neurosithrope Ropeadope (ANR) that works by overloading the MT8 and MT16 brain receptors believed to regulate the female’s promiscuity and morning after self-loathing cycle. Medespisemethene comes in chewable pill and bubble-gum forms in three flavors: Cigarette Ash, Cheap Scotch, and Toe Of Cowboy Boot. Side affects include: Diphtheria.
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Prointhezac is a Class XXXVII Total Ignominious Submission Inducer (TISI). A liquid, it’s administered through a tube attached to a small bottle affixed to the female’s head. In Class II trials, 87 percent of men didn’t notice the woman was under a doctor’s medication so long as she was chesty and naked. Prointhezac works by increasing serotonin levels in the female while lowering expectations to the point she thinks Donald Trump is sexy. Side effects include: the urge to buy a trailer and move to Arkansas.
Trollnoxaswine, a Class III, Protease, Amino-Acid-Refluxed Slap-Happy-Go-Luckiness-Inducer (PAARSHGLI), produces a pyscho-pseudo lobe lumbar sensation of well-being in female patients in the company of clinically loutish men. Trollnoxadic works through suppression of the female’s naturally occurring gag reflex through the inducement of blindness and complete and total loss of hearing. In a three-week, placebo-controlled study of 718 divorcees, after taking Trollnoxadic 17 women chose to remarry, selecting men who were physically repulsive, had no jobs, no future, no personality, no sense of humor, and, frankly, just wouldn’t shut up. Trollnoxaswine comes in two forms: a fast-acting dry powder that is inhaled; and slow-acting sponges that are epoxied under each armpit. Side effects include: splitting headaches, chafing and leprosy.
Dropdeadfinal results in early case studies were discouraging when riots broke out in Chicago. But the drug, administered to males, has shown promise in second phase double-blind studies in reducing animosity, aggression, stupidity, bad table manners and emotional aloofness by rendering males semi-conscious so they can be easily boxed up and shipped overseas.

Then my knee started hurting. Karma, you have to figure. Since no injury could be more symptomatic of mortality than—ouch!—all of a sudden, for no reason in the world except to throw it in your face, your goddamn knee goes out on you.

But we’ve all had these little tweaks, little yips in muscle or tendon, foot, knee, elbow or shoulder. We’ve all made the lame joke about how we don’t seem to get over them quite as fast these days. That’s all this was, and I waited it out like a man. Iced it, elevated it, tried to stay off of it. But it’s hard to walk on one knee, and it didn’t get any better. I went to the orthopaediatrician, and now I’m on a pill, an anti-inflammatory. I get one tiny tablet a day, and it’s all I think about. I don’t know whether to take it in the morning so it can be working all day, or at night so I can look forward to it all day. Just like a junkie—except maybe with different delusions about the paradise that beckons. I just want my knee back.

My addiction to this pill made me start thinking about all the other pills I take. Two of them, I suppose, fall into the category of supplements, but I take them with fanatical devotion. One is fish oil, or Omega 3, or whatever it’s called, and I’m convinced it helps control my cholesterol, which tends to drift upward. The other is magnesium, the purpose of which need not be mentioned. Both, of course, are perfect metonyms for the universal syndrome we call aging.

Full disclosure? About that other pill? Do I use it? Heck yeah. I call it my “happy pill,” and I’m talking about hydrocodon. Bro: I’m telling you. It’s the way to go. It’s the only pill out there that delivers the satisfaction of assembling a piece of Ikea furniture without blowing your head off. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t abuse this drug or possess it illegally. But if I happen to luck into a prescription—for some minor surgery, say—I’m not returning the leftovers.

Oh, you thought I meant that one. All I can say about that one is make sure you have the insurance.

So okay, maybe I’ve been in denial. Maybe it’s time to give it up, to let truth ring, to say the words.

Yes! I’m old and I take my pills.

But I ain’t changing how I fill out those forms.

Images: All of the images in this story were originally created by for a story on the dew by Peter Turnbull entitled, “Coming soon to a bedside table near you” (please read it) - each of the captions are from that story.
John Yow

John Yow

John Yow has written two books about birds, both published by UNC Press: The Armchair Birder: Discovering the Secret Lives of Familiar Birds (2009) and The Armchair Birder Goes Coastal: The Secret Lives of Birds of the Southeastern Shore (2012). His blog, "From Pumpkinvine Creek" ( is generally concerned with the fate that awaits birds and all other species if we don't stop trashing the planet. Yow and his wife Dede live in the woods in northeast Paulding County.