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If Dave Barry Ran the World

An interview with the author of 30 books and an unquantifiable number of booger jokes.

— Bill Wax/Daniel Portnoy

Q: Why, in your opinion, have hospital waiting rooms installed TVs that play, as you write, “at the volume of the Daytona 500”?

A: Well, they know they’re going to have you in there for a week to 10 days, and they’ve determined that Americans will settle down and watch whatever’s on as long as they remind you it’s on by playing it really loud. That way you can’t complain to anybody about the wait, because they can’t hear you.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s part of the therapy: If they make it that unpleasant to be in the waiting room, you’ll heal faster. Your body will say, “Hey, this isn’t good for me—I need to get out of this environment!”

Q: Maybe—

A: “I have to get away from Judge Judy somehow.”

Q: Yeah. Maybe it’s a small-scale version of health-care reform?

A: Yeah. Or maybe her voice can kill cancer cells. “Judge Judy—she’s tougher than cancer.”

Q: She should put that on her business card.

A: There you go. Cancer shows up in front of her, she’s going to say, “Do you have a receipt?”

Q: How’s the spinning going?

A: Well, right after this interview, I’m going to go spin with Erica the Nazi spin-class leader. You just cycle, cycle, cycle, but you never go anywhere. You stay right there in that room, smelling the groin sweat of the previous spinners, listening to music you don’t recognize. I haven’t missed a class.

Q: They wipe down the bikes, though, right?

A: I do that. And they do have wipes there. You don’t want to think about that too much, though. Have you ever gone to the wine country, like Sonoma?

Q: Yes.

A: That area. Have you ever had a mud bath?

Q: No, I can’t say I have.

A: Don’t. Don’t ever! They put you in what feels like basically hot cow poop. I don’t really know where they get it. There could be cows on the premises somewhere. Anyway, they push you into it. Deep into it. And it’s very hot. And then they tell you that all these toxins are going to come out of you.

So you get in there and suddenly it occurs to you, Where do the toxins go? Well, they go into the cow poop. Do they change the cow poop between mud baths? No, they do not! So you’re bathing in somebody else’s hot toxins. It’s pretty awful. Disgusting, in fact.

The spinning thing is not quite as bad as that. But you are getting onto a thing that somebody else has been sweating on. That thousands of groins have sweated on.

Q: And your wife got you into it?

A: Yeah, yeah.

Q: Not the groin-sweat thing, I don’t mean.

A: She did that too, but that’s another story. She’s been spinning for a while. She’s fit, my wife—don’t you hate that?—and so is her friend Erica and her other friends. When she comes home from any given spinning session, she knows more about these women than I know about all the friends I’ve ever had in my life. They spin and talk the whole time.

And I never understand the conversations. I guess that’s part of being 62—you just don’t hear everything as well, or whatever. Especially when there’s music playing. But they can all talk and spin and have music playing, all at the same time. And I’m more like, “Oh God, I’m going to die, I’m going to die. Oh, my God. If this song doesn’t end, I’m going to die.”

Q: I love that whole multitasking thing they do.

A: Yeah. They do it, I don’t. I just spin—and hope not to die.

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