Luckily for Tom, his newfound impotence proved to be short-lived. It had been one of the most humiliating episodes in his life so far, right up there with being caught jacking off in church to pictures of Mary Magdalene (hey, it seemed a good idea at the time) and being overheard singing a Dan Fogelberg song in earnest while at summer camp by some other boys; the infraction was punished with a ruthless wedgie.
The culprit, as it turned out, was not the acupuncturist who’d rerouted Tom’s nerve endings to help neutralize the pain in his backside (Tom’s, not the acupuncturist’s); nor was it the ibuprofen he took to relieve prostatitis; nor even his incipient corpulence, which made him worry that he might have developed type 2 diabetes.
No, the bad guy in this story was none other than the herbal remedy Tom had been taking for eight or nine months in order to shrink his “benignly” enlarged prostate gland, Mr. Saw Palmetto. Although Mr. Palmetto had done a yeoman’s service in reducing the number of times Tom had to excuse himself to take a leak (invariably a hassle when in transit, as it often meant having to go through the subway turnstiles and pay extra in order to use the men’s room before going back through to transfer to a different train line), Tom had noticed that lately that the source of pleasure (and, yes, pain) that lived in his groin had been losing its characteristic alacrity and circumspection.
After the incident with his wife Soonhee, in which he failed to rise to the occasion, making her wonder aloud whether he still found her attractive (as far as he knew, he did, even though naturally he still felt like killing her sometimes–hey, marriage isn’t called an institution for nothing–although it was confusing since he also occasionally ended up envisioning himself with other women while they were having sex, something he heard other guys did as well–gentlemen, schmentlemen), Tom went to see the acupuncturist and asked if he could help him revive his flagging member. The doc stuck a few needles pointing southward in the skin above his belt buckle, pulled them out just as fast, asked him to turn over, impaled his nethercheeks with a few more needles, then told him he was good to go.
The doctor told him that the problem was probably mainly in his head. Tom liked and trusted the doctor, despite having had a few traumatic experiences with other doctors over the years. He also had a lot more faith in medical science than faith-healing, unlike Soonhee.
He’d been taking 150 milligrams of saw palmetto every other day (cutting back from once a day after it made his blood pressure go haywire), but the stuff still raised his blood pressure to an unsettling degree.
In fact, the doctor had asked him when he mentioned the attack of flaccidity if he had hypertension.
This guy knows his shit, thought Tom.
That was the moment the light bulb lit up in his head and made him decide to stop taking the medicine. It would also relieve him of the annoying side effect of fatigue and joint aches brought on by Lyme disease (likewise triggered by sugary foods, honey, or too much coffee).
It was a relief to have all his parts back in working order again.
Now at last he could believe in the resurrection–or at least a profane, blasphemous, extremely local version thereof.
The bishop is back in action!
The only thing that concerned him was the nagging pain in his chest and left arm. The intermittent stabbing spasms appeared to be getting more intense, along with more frequent. He’d finally started an exercise regimen by walking up a little nearby mountain every other day, but he had to reverse a sedentary lifestyle and stop buying packaged crappy snacks at convenience stores.
He’d never known true hunger before, only the vague dissatisfaction of your average spoiled middle class white American guy.
So if he did manage to die young, he’d only have himself to blame, assuming a vestige of his consciousness remained in order for him to do so posthumously.