By BEN R. WILLIAMS

Hey, fancy running into you here! It’s me, your casual acquaintance. Looks like you got a big cart of groceries there. Don’t worry, I’ll walk with you to your car. I have all the time in the world, and I assume you do too.

How are you? Fine, you say? Well, things haven’t been going so great for me. I’m glad I ran into you, because since I bumped into you at the DMV two years ago, a lot more terrible things have happened to me and my family, and I’m sure you’ll want to hear every detail, no matter how personal or disgusting.

Well, mama ain’t doing so good. She’s got that Lou Gehrig disease. No, not that one. She’s got this disease where she thinks she’s Lou Gehrig. You ask her a question, she starts talking about her .340 batting average. It’s powerful tragic, but she seems to be taking it pretty well, I guess. When the doctor gave her the news, she said she was the luckiest man on the face of the Earth.

Daddy, he ain’t doing so good either. He caught a bad case of Total Body Failure. Yeah, one day his whole body just up and fell off. Couldn’t afford a replacement body, so we put his head on the body of one of those old Teddy Ruxpin dolls. You know daddy, though; he always loves to tell a story. Still does, you just gotta put a cassette in his back first.

Now granny, she’s been having a real tough time. She wrecked her Harley a few months back, went over the handlebars and sailed into the woods. Took the EMTs forever to find her; turns out, she hit a big knot hole traveling about 100 miles per hour and now she’s stuck in a tree. Doctor said it would be pretty expensive to get her out of there, and you know granny’s just as tight as old Dick’s hatband, so now I gotta go down into the woods a couple of times a day and stick some Werther’s Originals in the knothole. You should hear her carrying on.

Hey, looks like your ice cream’s starting to melt. I hate when that happens.

Now grampa, he’s a real mess. About a year ago, he was trying to fix his clock radio and he got sucked into some kinda parallel dimension. Yeah, turns out it’s this dimension where the meteor never struck the Earth and the dinosaurs never died out, so instead they conquered the mammals and evolved into sapient lizard-people. You can imagine how hard it was for grampa to make friends. He managed to get back to this dimension, but now he eats his meat raw and spends most of the day sunning himself on a flat rock in the back yard. It’s real rough. Same thing happened to his daddy, so I guess it runs in the family.

Of course, the family’s doing pretty good compared to me. Boy, I tell you, it’s rough. I went to the doctor the other day, and he told me my skeleton’s made of glass and my feet are on backwards. Don’t know if I’m coming or going half the time.

I always told people I got a big heart, but the doctor says it’s way too big. Said my heart weighs about fifty pounds. I go to the gym and it sounds like someone pounding the drum on one of those Viking ships. It’s real distracting, but I’m trying to get me a part-time job as a metronome at Juilliard.

Let me tell you, it’s tough all over. I went to the carnival and paid the fortune teller a buck to tell my future. She said I was going to die in a grain elevator explosion. The joke’s on her, though; I’ve survived three of them since then, and I’m no worse for wear, except for the constant ringing sound in my ears and the fact that I can’t fall asleep unless someone’s holding my hand.

Hey, are you getting in your car? I don’t blame you for wanting to sit down. My feet are pretty sore, too. The doctor said I have Mathlete’s Foot. It’s like Athlete’s Foot, except it multiplies really quickly. It’s super contagious. Here, let me pull my shoe off and I’ll show you—

Whoops! I think your foot slipped on the gas because you just ran me over while backing out of your parking spot. That’s OK, I keep the hospital on speed dial. I’ll tell you all about it next time I see you.