Autoblography Part 33: Meet Cute

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 25, 2011

Filed under: Personal 161 comments

Heather picks me up in her parent’s car. This is our first date.

I’ve never seen her wearing anything besides her McDonald’s uniform. She shows up wearing an ankle-length skirt with a flower print and a jean jacket. I have this strange moment where I realize we are the products of two entirely different teenage cultures. If we’d gone to school together, we might never have associated with each other. By meeting in a work environment where we wore uniforms, we didn’t drag all of our high school ideas about identity into our relationship. Until now.

“That’s an… interesting outfit,” I blurt out. I know this this incredibly wrong the moment the words escape my mouth, and none of my hastily appended comments do anything to blunt the fact that I was just a jerk to her. This is on top of the fact that I was already kind of a jerk when she asked me to prom. She’s an exceptionally good sport about it.

shamus_1992_movie.jpg

We go see Medicine Man, starring Sean Connery. This is a movie with A Message, and the message gets in the way of the storytelling. I really like the characters, but the ham-fisted plot repeatedly tests my patience. As it grinds through the sad parts of the movie, I look over to see if Heather is as annoyed as I am. She is not. In fact, she is a little teary-eyed.

This date could be going better, but it could also be going worse. In fact, it’s about to.

As if waiting for the right cue, a hammer comes down between my temples. It’s another one of my headaches. I’m suddenly feeling very weak, and looking at the brilliant screen in the dark theater is agonizing. As the movie hits the climax, the the sound and fury seem to be tunneling through my hand and my closed eyelids to directly assault my frontal lobe.

We were going to go out to eat, but when the movie ends I tell Heather about the headache and ask her to take me home.

I insulted her outfit. I sneered at the movie. I ended the date early. I expect I have bungled things beyond redemption with this girl. No doubt she will assume this headache is just an excuse to get away from her.

To my surprise, she offers sympathy and earnest concern, and doesn’t seem to question my story for a moment. The next time we work together she’s glad I’m feeling better, and doesn’t bring up any of my blunders. She’s willing to go out again.

I get the sense that this girl is a bit different from the others. We begin dating regularly. Eventually, we go to prom.

This is a Polariod taken at McDonald’s, where we worked.
This is a Polariod taken at McDonald’s, where we worked.

It’s now the summer of 1992, and I seem to have gotten myself very, very sick. It began with some sort of stomach ailment. First I was visited by the twin menace of fever and vomiting. After several days of this it became painful to swallow anything. I’d get this burning sensation in my esophagus, which is interesting because until now I didn’t even know you could feel anything in the esophagus. As it turns out, the esophagus can be an energetic conduit of some impressively excruciating pain. Eventually it became painful even to swallow water. Because I am an idiot, a fool, and a hapless moron, I dealt with this by simply not taking any more liquids.

With no food or water, my body quickly lost strength and the infection ran unchecked. So now I’m in the hospital. I have not eaten solid food in over a week. I have yet to have a drink. In fact, swallowing causes such intense agony that I can’t even swallow my own spit without curling up into a ball and crying. I have a gross little cup here that I spit into every minute or so. When the cup is full, I call the nurse and he empties it.

They’re keeping me alive through intravenous fluids. It’s amazing to see my body drink from a plastic bag, through my arm. They have managed to hydrate me to the point where I can sweat again. I’m no longer dehydrated, but my mouth still feels thirsty.

The summer Olympics are on, and the main attraction (for me at least) is the endless procession of advertisements for Coca-Cola. My mouth longs for a cold, sugary drink. I crave it like I’ve never craved anything before in my life. On the other hand, I know that drinking one would probably cause the worst pain I’ve ever experienced. If my own spit burns, I can only imagine what a sip of icy, carbonated, slightly acidic soda would feel like on the way down. It’s a good thing they won’t serve me a Coke here in the hospital, because I’d probably be stupid enough to drink it.

Heather visits me. Every day. Not even my mother comes to see me that often. I suppose if I had more brains I’d propose to her right now. She’s already demonstrated herself to be patient, empathetic, cheerful, and willing to laugh at my jokes. All this, on top of her beauty. What am I waiting for? To meet a girl who is all of this, and a millionaire? Unfortunately, I’m about to turn 21, and it’s part of the natural order of things for people my age to not think ahead.

I wobble out of the hospital after a week. It’s been two weeks since this abrupt fever appeared and I fell ill, although that feels like months ago. I’ve lost a shocking amount of weight in that short time. It will be a while before I have the strength to return to work.

There’s no rush. I’m living with my parents, working fast food. Rushing into things right now is like driving faster when you get lost. My life isn’t going anywhere.

 


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161 thoughts on “Autoblography Part 33: Meet Cute

  1. mac says:

    Awwww! That’s so nice!

    To clarify, I mean Heather was really cool to you, not that it’s nice you were sick :p

    1. Lesquille says:

      I, on the other hand, DO think it’s nice that Shamus was sick. Ahahahahaha!

      But seriously, don’t let that fever kill you or you’ll create a time paradox.

      1. CTrees says:

        Admittedly, ending the autobiography series with his death in his mid-twenties would throw us ALL for one heck of a loop.

          1. Then you have the continuing series where Shamus goes back in time today in order to save his younger self, and tell him that he has to write this web series in order to know to come back and time and save himself in a couple of decades

            1. Mephane says:

              So that’s the reason, after all, why he’s doing it!

            2. Shamus says:

              Pffft. If I could go back in time and meet younger Shamus, I would kick his whiny, slacking, self-absorbed ass.

              Actually. I imagine he’d best me in a fight. Whatever my other faults were, I was in dang good shape back then.

              1. ccesarano says:

                I think it’s a universal urge to want to go back to our younger selves and smack ourselves in the back of the head. Some people remember High School fondly. I remember it as the time I made horrific mistakes with my career and with the ladies.

                Of course, once you change those events, you aren’t the person who you are today. If you beat yourself up then, would you even be writing this web series now? DUN DUN DUUUUUUN!

                1. lazlo says:

                  I take great solace in the fact that I can look back over my life and, at almost every single stage of life since I began remembering things and up until pretty much now, and think to myself “My god, how could I have been so stupid?!?!?!” I take it as an indication that maybe, possibly, I’m actually getting smarter. (It only works because it does sort of seem that the decisions I made last week weren’t quite as bad as the ones I made a few decades ago).

                  1. delve says:

                    Precisely. It’s because I so clearly despise my own past self that I know I’ve gotten better. At least marginally. I’m acquainted with a guy that would like nothing more than to regain the ‘glory days’ of his high school ‘career.’ Now just how depressing is that?

                    On the other hand, it leaves me with a deeply uncomfortable ambivalence whenever the nigh-obligatory ‘nostalgia’ bits come up in popular culture. I strangely yearn to connect with those feelings but cannot come up with any resonant connections in my past. It’s rather disorienting.

                2. Retsam says:

                  I’ve heard it said before that one of the few universally true statements is:
                  “Man I was an idiot [any amount of time in the past], but I sure don’t want to get any older.”

                  1. Jarenth says:

                    Obligatory comic link. For the alt-text, obviously.

              2. ? says:

                Looking at a story so far seems like you could distract him with a laptop or any piece of modern electronic hardware and get a surprise round.

              3. Ohhh, yeah. I’d love to do that.
                (Well, to my younger self, not Shamus’)
                And I could, too. Younger me would be faster, but I have more muscle mass and I know more about how to fight.

                . . . Actually, a bit overdramatized. My younger self was whiny, slacking and self-absorbed, but really more in need of a long “what stupid things I need to avoid doing” talk than a beat-down. It’s not like I’ve changed that much–now that I’m married and in love and have a great kid and all, I’m more smug, slacking and self-absorbed.

                On the other hand, if I’d learned how to be less of an idiot earlier in my life, I might not have still been single by the time I met my wife. That would have been a pity.

              4. Exasperation says:

                It’s all in the timing. If you’re going to go back in time to pick a fight with your past self, just choose a time when you know he’s going to be incapacitated by, say, a blinding headache.

                1. D4 says:

                  But then it turns out that the modern Shamus gets a headache at the same moment, and an attempt to go back to another migraine moment has the same effect….eventually leading him to discover that all of his migraines were caused by the presence of his future self!

                  1. Mephane says:

                    This sounds like there is already a novel about it, heh. Reminds of of Michio Kaku’s often-repeated time travel story, where a guy creates a huge knot of inter-connected paradoxes for his past selves.

              5. Tizzy says:

                A computer nerd who is (was) in shape? Awesome!

  2. Mormegil says:

    I always drive faster when I’m lost – you can identify your mistakes more quickly that way.

    1. MrWhales says:

      The ones that got you into this situation, or the ones you will make by driving fast?

  3. Oliver says:

    “My life isn’t going anywhere…

    or is it?”

    Dun dun dunnnnnn

  4. silver Harloe says:

    “Heather visits me. Every day.”

    That pretty much tells me everything I need to know – she was smitten by you – utterly and completely.

    Hospitals are miserable places. People who see you in the hospital are either family or care (or both). People who see you daily in the hospital really, really care.

    1. Mari says:

      This is true. That’s why I married the fellow who visited me daily in the hospital when we were dating and I had to have a little minor surgery.

    2. krellen says:

      From her comments during the autoblogography, it’s clear she still is, which is the best part.

      1. Yeah, definitely still smitten– even more so now than I was then. You gotta admit– Shamus is pretty awesome.

        1. noahpocalypse says:

          Second.

          1. Mari says:

            All in favor say “Aye.”

                1. Cuthalion says:

                  Jay!

                  …what?

                  But seriously. Aye.

          2. JPH says:

            How come I’ve never seen you before?

            1. noahpocalypse says:

              Dunno. I’ve been here a few months.

              With respect, that seems like a rather odd thing to say. Do you recognize all the commenters on here? If so, wow.

              1. MrWhales says:

                I recognize a few…

              2. JPH says:

                Actually, I was pretending you were Scruffy from Futurama.

                And for the record, I have, in fact, seen you before.

                1. noahpocalypse says:

                  Ah. I get it now.

    3. Abnaxis says:

      Maybe I’m weird, but in my mind if someone is dating me and they don’t visit me every day in the hospital, they’re getting the boot unless something seriously important is going on elsewhere (or at least downgraded from “dating” to “friend”). As should I, if I didn’t show up.

      I guess if I care enough to wind up the nerve to ask someone out, that automatically means I care enough to keep them company when they’re miserable, and I’m demanding enough to expect the same in return. To me, knowing that you want to spend the rest of your life with someone sits on an entirely different level than that.

      1. Mari says:

        LOL I spent three weeks in the hospital and only saw my hubby twice while I was there. Saw my folks once. His folks once. I spent two hours calling around looking for someone to pick me up when they released me. I mean, everyone had a LIFE to live, why should they be at my bedside every day? Hospitals are boring and weird and I wouldn’t wish that on people I don’t like, much less people I love.

  5. Jarenth says:

    Wow. If that wasn’t something that really happened, I’d call it the laziest railroad plot in ages.

    “So you… insulted the girl, ridiculed a movie she liked, and then cancelled the rest of the date because of unverifiable headaches? No, it’s cool, she’ll still go out with you! She… she’s just that great, you see?”

    1. Syal says:

      It sounds like he didn’t let her know he didn’t like the movie. So at least he had that going for him.

    2. Abnaxis says:

      On our first date, my wife and I both hated the movie, but each were too nervous to admit to the other. I guess Shamus is too much of a consummate critic to turn it off for the evening :D

      1. I had absolutely no discernment. Now i am as much a movie snob as he is.:) (And boy is he ever.:P)

  6. Zaxares says:

    You are a very, very lucky man, Shamus. You go to your wife RIGHT NOW, embrace her and tell her sincerely that she is the best thing that ever happened to you. That is an order. :P

    Although… I’m actually curious now to hear Heather’s side of the story. If you’re reading this, Heather, what exactly was it about Shamus that drew you to him in the first place?

    1. Samopsa says:

      Your last line is worded with a lot of tact!

      “So… Heather… what EXACTLY was it about SHAMUS that drew you to HIM in the first place?!”

      (I know it’s not meant as an insult! ;))

    2. Dwip says:

      This.

      I read this whole entry like “Yeah, ok, fast food job probably not so great, and I sure am glad I’ve never been that sick in my life, because just reading about it makes me hurt, and…wait, she’s visiting him in the hospital? Every day? Awkward dating aside? He’s got it made, and never mind the IV.”

      I’d kill for half that kind of luck.

      1. ccesarano says:

        Keep in mind that there’s a lot of interaction between the two of them that we’re not seeing. She asked him out to prom for a reason. It’s possible that she was already familiar with guys that have certain social ineptitudes, or learned through their interactions (and even how he agreed to go to the prom) that he’s a bumbling fool when it comes to dating. Plus, we don’t know how well those other dates and Prom went.

        Heck, we’re seriously getting the Cliff Notes version here (though I’m wondering where Shamus’ old post comes in, where he mentions sneaking into Heather’s basement to play Nintendo or something. I can’t remember the post well enough, or what its purpose was, but it was charming and amusing and all that. Been a while since I read it).

        Basically, Shamus is just highlighting their first date, which he clearly screwed up (or feels he has, anyway), and then how he got super sick and how she reacted to it. It’s hardly the plot outline for a new romance movie.

        1. Um…I asked him to prom because I needed a date (already had a dress and was breaking up with my long distance boyfriend–so was pretty much a jerk myself– we were both total idiots.) I was asking him to prom because I had a few “stand by” friends who said they would go from school but one of them had a crush on me and made me seriously uncomfortable and the others really didn’t want to go whereas he was fun to be around, was nice, and we could have actual conversations (even if I was a dork and argued about everything.)

          I was horribly socially inept– afraid to talk to people and make eye contact, and deliberately refused to follow any social norms (while being an extremely naive “good girl”) because I was sick of being manipulated. Shamus was pretty popular at Mickey D’s because he made it fun to do all the tedious work. He was funny and his joking made me comfortable.

          The playing Nintendo in the basement thing didn’t happen for a few months, or possibly years. I spent my first year of college commuting from home as I had a new baby brother (18 yrs younger) and my mom was sick so needed a lot of help. So it could have happened anytime from when we met in March through the next 5 years while I was in college since I also spent my summers at home. Seems to me it was probably during the summer between my freshman and sophomore year.

          1. ccesarano says:

            You just ruined the magic. It went from a cute and silly love story to just two socially awkward people being socially awkward.

            My mind has been shattered forever. I shall never dream again.

            1. Zaxares says:

              “It went from a cute and silly love story to just two socially awkward people being socially awkward.”

              That IS a cute and silly love story! ;) (Of course, I suspect you knew that already. My Net-sarcasm detector is a little wonky tonight.)

        2. Dwip says:

          Well…yahbut. Here’s kind of where I was going with that:

          – Having been a rough if perhaps more socially awkward analogue of 21 y/o Shamus, I’m somewhat familiar with the idea of screwing up on a date (or even not a date) and having that be the utter end of things. Been there, got the membership card. Heather’s willingness to look past that speaks pretty well for her in that regard.

          – Perhaps more relevantly, and I realize we’re skipping over the first fight, somebody left the toilet seat up/down and has some gross habit part of the relationship here, but A) reading outside this one story, I think you can tell that here are a couple of people who do pretty damn well together, and how cool is that really; B) Based on her various posts in the various threads, but even just based on Shamus’ descriptions of her, Heather sounds totally awesome.

          Which is all to say that, having experienced the difference between visiting-in-the-hospital relationships and not-visiting-in-the-hospital relationships, one is slightly envious of the former.

    3. Hmm– first guy I ever dated who wasn’t into sports, was hilariously funny without being hurtful, who was actually super intelligent and LIKED books AND would TALK ABOUT THEM. Keeping in mind that I was an idealistic bookworm who knew nothing about sports, and grew up surrounded by computers (dad and brother both geeks and I was one of the only girls that I knew who grew up playing video games and the first kid in my school to have a home computer.)

      1. Zaxares says:

        Ahh, so it was a case of “kindred souls meeting each other despite statistical odds” then. :)

        Hey Shamus, you done what I said in my first post yet?! :P

  7. MadTinkerer says:

    We’re still nineteen years ago, and there’s only seven-ish episodes left? I guess you’re skipping the “boring” part where you start this blog and gain instantaneous fame and fortune as an internet journalist / procedural game programmer / Let’s Play video maker / webcomic artist.

    EDIT: Oh and D&D player.

    1. Fede says:

      And let’s not forget Time Travelling Detective!

  8. Lesquille says:

    I anticipate a twist ending; Shamus was trapped in another dimension by his evil twin, who has taken his place. And it’s up to us to rescue him!

    1. 4th Dimension says:

      You have my keyboard!

      1. River says:

        And my mouse!…… ok fine touchpad

        1. Ramsus says:

          I’ll come along too but, just end up getting sidetracked by someone maliciously linking TV Tropes and won’t end up rejoining the rest of you for a while.

        2. Avpix says:

          AND MY AXE!!!

          There, someone had to say it. What would Shamus’s evil twin be like? Would he be a Geek Supervillian or a shaved-head bodybuilder with an intellegence score of 5?

          1. krellen says:

            Shamus is the good twin of Lex Luthor.

    2. Blake says:

      He’s held captive by a DIRE HELL RABBIT!

      1. 4th Dimension says:

        HOLLY HAND GRENADE!

        1. Tuck says:

          That’s a christmas pudding with holly on top…?

  9. X2-Eliah says:

    You know what threw me off? That you were really young back in 1992. For some reason this makes me feel that goddamnit I’m getting older too :(

    About the hospital stay.. Myeah. It’s somewhat freaky to lie there with a needle up your vein, and you can literally feel the entire needle shift inside your arm, scratching at the walls of the vein when you so much as slightly move the arm.. Kinda really not a nice feeling to remember, when you think about it. Seemingly nothing special, but has that same sense of wrongness as seeing something pricking an eyeball. Idk. I’m not afraid of needles or anything, but the more you think about the IV, the more it seems not right.

    1. Klay F. says:

      I once had a PICC line put in my upper arm. Let me tell you, few things are as weird as gaining a vague sense of tasting (and at the same time not tasting) every medication thats being used on you.

      1. When pregnant with our youngest I had a PICC line in my neck (still have the “vampire bites”.) Yeah, fun times, and such a weird feeling. Even weirder when you manage to pull about a foot of it out when taking off the tape. Yeah. TOTALLY creepy and awful.

        1. Velkrin says:

          Hey, my sister also had a picc line in her when she was younger. You guys should form a club or something.

        2. Brandon says:

          I just wikipedia-ed a PICC line.

          Huauuuuuuuhhh…. *gets wobbly knees*

          And I thought I hated needles. There is even greater evil out there in the world…

          1. Yeah– after a horribly traumatic 3 week stay in the hospital as a child (blood drawn every half hour for a week then every hour for the next 2) I was terrified of needles. 3 children later and multiple iv’s and explanations of collapsing and rolling veins plus the PICC line which couldn’t go in either arm after multiple attempts I am still fairly cringe-y at the very thought but no longer scared to death.

            1. Exasperation says:

              I know that feeling. When I was a little kid, I cut my finger and needed stitches. The anesthetic didn’t take, and I went through several rounds of the doctor starting to sew, me screaming in pain, them giving me another shot of anesthetic and starting to sew again.

              At its worst, my fear of needles was bad enough that when I needed a blood test run my body’s instinctive reaction was to clamp shut all the blood vessels in the area, and they had to draw blood four times to get enough to run the test.

              Today I can deal with needles as long as I can look away. Also, I know that in the initial incident they were probably using novocaine or a close relative thereof (I have since discovered that I have a bad reaction to novocaine: ~15 minutes of agony, only then followed by numbness).

              1. 4th Dimension says:

                Needles. Brrrrrrrrrrr. As a kid I was so scared of needles that I made a scene in class (yes they vaccinated us during school) when doctors came to give us some vaccines.

                Also one time I had to draw blood they couldn’t find my venes and had to use baby needle (after stabbing me couple of times of course).

                Now I can tolerate needles, although I did run into a crazy nurse that gives shots into the backside the following way:
                1 Stab patient with a needle
                2 ask if it hurts
                3 if answer is YES
                4 reposition the needle
                5 go to 2
                5 else maybe finally give the shot

                So with her geting stabbed is a circle of pain. It makes you want to scream give me the shot allready!

    2. Abnaxis says:

      My personal reaction to this is “Whoa, weird.” I’ll respoition my arm and look at it ’cause it feels weird.

      My reaction to seeing someone else get an IV (knowing what it fells like) is “AAIEUGH!” I hate seeing other people with needles poking everywhere.

      1. delve says:

        Pain is simply this:
        Your 3 month old son, sick and off his food. Held to a table by 3 nurses for about 30 minutes because not one of them is capable of properly inserting the IV into a patient of his size (3 month old kids apparently have tiny veins, go figure).

        Eventually they got a competent (older and more experienced, thankfully) nurse from the emergency ward that had the IV inserted in under a minute. You cannot imagine the screams, but you can pray that you don’t have to live through them.

        Thankfully Nick is perfectly fine now. He had a very difficult infancy though.

        1. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS demand an anesthesiologist put it in. I have yet to find a nurse who can insert an iv in my tiny impossible to find and keep track of veins but an anesthesiologist has always managed (that r a geriatric nurse–they are used to that sort of thing.)

        2. Nick Bell says:

          So your story is creepy. I’m a Nick as well, and was totally in the hospital at that age, with similar problems. I was throwing up everything I aid. My arms and legs were too small to put in the IV, they actually stuck mine into my head. Had to have surgery to correct a case of pyloric stenosis. What was wrong with your Nick?

          1. delve says:

            He was in NICU III for a massive pleural effusion (massive was the doctor’s word, not mine) for the first 6 weeks or so of his life. Then went back to the hospital at around 3 months when he became so congested he stopped eating. Pediatricians get understandably nervous when infants stop eating. They also insist that infants can’t develop allergic reactions even when they’re staring at an acute case of hayfever. Go figure.

            As I said, he’s fine now. The experienced nurse got the IV in his arm and he was out of the hospital in about a week. Couldn’t tell his medical history from his behavior now, the little imp.

        3. Flakey says:

          Not sure if this is a nation specific thing again, as my experience in the UK, is as a frequent visitor to hospitals, I always insist on a nurse drawing blood, or putting in ivs.

          Especially as the last time I let a doctor draw blood I ended up with a bruise that went from wrist to armpit (and that is no exaggeration on its size).

          1. Heather says:

            Here in the US doctors NEVER do iv’s or draw blood (at least never in my experience and I have quite a bit between myself and family members.) Nurses are VERY sure they are good at it and never listen to what I say about my own veins (and same experience with family members with similar issues). For instance I am right handed so they always want to do my left…BUT they can never get it in my left, ever– I have NEVER had blood drawn or an iv done in my left work. They usually have to use a butterfly needle because my veins are hard to hit but only once has someone listened and done it on the first go (and THAT was an anesthesiologist.) They almost always have to go get an anesthesiologist of geriatric nurse after they have turned me into a pinchushion.

            1. delve says:

              I’ll take your advice, but I’ll also note that anesthesiologists aren’t perfect. The one handling the epidural at my wife’s 1st pregnancy had to re-set the needle 3 times. The *2* anesthesiologists (I think 1 was a student or in training or something, it was a university hospital) at my wife’s second pregnancy, the one with Nick, ended up giving her a spinal. By ‘accident.’ So, yeah. Not perfect :)

            2. vukodlak says:

              As Christopher Brookmyre says: an anaesthetist is the only doctor a patient is happy to see.

            3. Flakey says:

              I only ever run into one nurse like that. The veins on the back of my left hand are so messed up from various sporting injuries, and multiple weeks of iv needles, that it is no longer possible to get an iv needle into them. She tried mightily to get it in despite me offering my right hand first, and ignoring my suggestion, but had to do the right hand like I first said, but not for a long while. Not sure if she did not want to admit I was right in the first place.

    3. xXDarkWolfXx says:

      I have the opposite issue that you had. Summer of 1992 was shortly after i was born which makes me feel really young.

      Iv also only ever had one IV that i can recall and i was more concerned on other injuries that i had at the time to notice any pain the IV would have caused.

    4. Deoxy says:

      Having tooth implnats that can screw into and out of your jaw is a lot wierder. “I have a socket”, I thought, as they screwed it in… and I could feel it. Cyborg-y feelings. Very strange.

  10. Simon Buchan says:

    I hate to ruin this bizzarely but charmingly Marty Stu’ish story with the terrible news that we’ve just lost John McCarthy, the inventor of amongst other things, Lisp and Garbage Collection. Dennis Ritchie might have given us perhaps the most influential language *and* operating system, but McCarthy invented the language that every language is slowly clawing it’s way towards: in 1958. I don’t like implying that his life is somehow more worthwhile than any other person’s because of this – but I feel he deserves at least the utmost respect for his contributions. RIP.

    1. MichaelG says:

      Amazing to think that computer science is such a young field that our founders are just now dying off. Like being around when Newton died.

  11. Ambience 327 says:

    There seems to be something special about this Heather person, Shamus. She might just be a keeper. Try not to screw it up, ok? :)

  12. SolkaTruesilver says:

    All right Shamus. I saw through your devious plan. You whole story was simply a set up to promote Heather’s bid to Sainthood, right?

    Seeing how you talk about her for now, I think it might be working.

    1. Mari says:

      LOL I can say without a doubt that Heather’s no saint. She’s just awesome is all. Now if he’s pushing a Ruler of the Free World bid for her, that I’ll second. The free world would probably be a better place if it were run by someone who can see the sappy heart underneath preachy movies, someone who can ignore the inadvertent slights of the socially awkward, someone who can wear that gorgeous but totally fashion-oblivious dress and hat without a shred of self-doubt, and someone who can visit hospitals daily for people she cares about.

      1. Mari, have I mentioned you are too awesome? And that dress? My mom made it for me after much insisting on my part– and did more cursing than I ever heard her do thanks to all the layers of lace. And now I look back and think– wow, that is a RIDICULOUS dress.

        1. Hitch says:

          Wait. I didn’t make the connection at first. That was your prom dress? I can see now why Shamus commented on your… unorthodox(?) fashion sense.

          I think the important thing is, however socially awkward he may have been in other respects he, could see the person rather than just the clothes.

          1. Yup– prom dress. And I insisted on a hat which I decorated myself and no makeup or nail polish much to my parents chagrin.

            Here is our wedding so you can see the difference:

            http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/368700885/

            1. Knight of Fools says:

              I hope I can look half as happy as Shamus is in that picture when my time comes. He looks like he could explode into a million rays of sunshine and rainbows at the slightest provocation.

              1. AyeGill says:

                Don’t be stupid. How could a million rays of sunshine and rainbows write this blog? That would be a time paradox.

                Unless….

                Unless this is a stable time loop where someone has to go back in time and reform shamus from all the rays and rainbows using technology from our time, thus enabling him to write this blog and tell people to do it in a timely manner and the reason he hasn’t mentioned it yet is because we’re not there technologically yet and you can’t talk about the future for danger of creating a…

                I’ll be in the corner

        2. Mari says:

          Don’t knock that dress. I paid almost $500 for a very similar dress in ivory lace with tiny pearls sewn all over it for my prom/wedding (no, seriously, that was the plan even at the time – I could wear it to prom then have it cleaned and heirloomed and reuse it as a wedding dress; it was how I justified the price tag to myself).

          1. Atarlost says:

            That is a dress that says Heather is too cool for this century. And said it in the last century. All she needs is a humongous steam powered mecha.

          2. Heather says:

            Mari…that is pretty awesome. If my mom were alive I would call her up and tell her what you just said, she would have been thrilled to pieces. She also made my wedding veil and I made my own wedding dress.

            1. Mari says:

              You officially have to move to Texas so you can teach me to sew like that. I’m teaching myself and maybe after I have cataract surgery in my 80s I MIGHT be able to sew something as nice as your wedding dress.

              1. Heather says:

                Mari, I am a total hack as far as sewing goes. I refuse to use a pattern and usually adapt things (the sheer top part was a sheer shirt bought for me by my aunt a few years before.) I wasted quite a bit of material making that dress– in fact had another dress made completely and then lost quite a bit of weight (was working nearly full time plus doing student teaching– yeah, eating wasn’t a priority.) So I actually had to start over with my dress about November after having almost finished one from April till then. Wonder what I did with it– probably tore it apart for the new one.

  13. asterismW says:

    My mom recently commented to me that my dad was able to see past the person she appeared to be on the outside, to the person she really was and was capable of being. It seems like Heather was able to do that too. How lucky you both are!

  14. rayen says:

    Dawwww, thats so sweet. You type this down and i suddenly feel like you owe her something. beats me why i feel that way. If i wasn’t sick as a dog right now i’d probably take my wife out tonight.

    speaking of sickness, did you ever find out what yuou had? It’s sounds like mononucleosis (aka mono/the kissing disease) to me. except for the vomiting part sounds exactly like when i had it. difference being instead of feeding me via IV, doctors just gave me these super painkillers and said take this an hour before i eat. worked pretty well although i only had fluids.

    1. It was an infection of the esophagus — they never figured out the cause but the not drinking made it much worse than it would have been.

  15. ccesarano says:

    I’ve never seen The Medicine Man, but it’s a John McTiernan film. My exposure to other John McTiernan films forces me to believe there is something wrong with you, Shamus.

    Then again, everyone has some bad movies.

    1. Shamus says:

      It’s a story supposedly grounded in reality, but Sean Connery stumbles on a natural remedy that will cure any cancer in any patient. Overnight. With no risks or side-effects. With one dose. With no other medical care required and no chance of remission.

      The movie was about the clear-cutting of rainforests that was going on. At the time, this was a big issue and lots of people were raising awareness and trying to get Joe Average to care. So the movie had this awkward message of “We shouldn’t cut down the rainforests because they might contain anti-cancer juju magic”. (As if there weren’t already good reasons to want to preserve rainforests, that we need to invent new, preposterous reasons for this position.) It undercut the message of the film and came off as silly. Looking back, it kind of reminds me of Cameron’s Avatar, where the storyteller is trying so hard to get the message across that some people call it cheap and manipulative.

      Other than that, it was a fine movie and had several good moments. It’s certainly not a horrible film, and if you can get past the magic juju then the rest of it should go down easy.

      1. X2-Eliah says:

        I’d love to hear Sean Connery pronounce “We shouldn’t cut down rainforests because they could contain Anti-Cancer juju magic”. It’d be epic.

        1. Shamus says:

          Your position is unassailable.

          In fact, I’d settle for just “juju magic”.

          1. Leonardo Herrera says:

            “Choo choo moeachick”

            1. Will says:

              I just had a Sean Connery moment.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          Aaaand now there are cancer adds running on the page. Better than some alternatives I guess.

          1. X2-Eliah says:

            The power of Sean Connery.

            Oh yeah.

      2. Hitch says:

        I remember less details about the movie than Shamus does, but I do remember being thoroughly unimpressed by it.

        1. Milos says:

          I was only 7 or 8 when I saw the movie. Not much stuck with me except a scene where the natives are making some kind of moonshine for Connery by repeatedly spitting in a big bowl. Unless I mixed this up with some other movie about rain forests, that kind of awful image is what it takes to stay in a young child’s memory.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            Nope, right movie.

            I always wondered what that stuff tastes like (if it really exists). That was my main takeaway

            1. PAK says:

              Never seen the movie, but we recently covered ritual use of balche by the Lacondan peoples in my “Antropology of Magic, Witchcraft, and Religion” class:
              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balch%C3%A9

              The Wikipedia article doesn’t mention spitting, but in lecture we were told that the Lacondas sometimes spit into the mixture to facilitate/speed fermentation.

        2. Darkness says:

          There are some really good bits in it. Sean’s boss comes to the forest and gets tattooed by the medicine man. She also takes some jungle caffeine treat that gets her really loopy. Fun.

          I took a different line on the juju. The Connery character was expanding on his guilt from killing the original locals with western viruses (and cancer?). So the magic juju cured one kid and Connery thought it would cure everything and thus ease his guilt.

          1. Shamus says:

            I really liked that angle on his character. I think that was my favorite part of the movie. He talked about it (what was the place called, Mocara?) as if it was some other scientist, and the truth only came out when he was drunk.

            Man, I haven’t seen that thing in a lifetime and I still remember a lot of it. That says a lot about the movie.

      3. Abnaxis says:

        To be fair, I don’t think the movie explicitly says the treatment works for all cancer and has no side effects/chance for remission/medical care required. It just says it cures cancer. If you’re like me, you assume all those other details happen off camera, they’re just too boring to make the cut.

      4. Velkrin says:

        Looking back, it kind of reminds me of Cameron's Avatar

        What WAS the moral of that story anyway?

        Never get involved in a landwar with blue cat people?

        Don’t bother with ground troops when you can bomb it from space?

        The Ewok expy always wins?

        Sam Worthington supports the furry community?

        3-D will melt your brain?

        Don’t mess with the trees or they will f**k you up?
        No wait, that last one was the message I took away from Two Towers.

        1. X2-Eliah says:

          “Visual FX sells”

        2. Mari says:

          “White capitalist pigs and the military industrial complex suck and will destroy the entire universe if allowed to go unchecked.”

          Also, “This is the history of European civilization around the globe; subjugating and destroying peaceful native people.”

          NOTE: I’m not saying I AGREE with those morals, just that they were the morals of “Avatar.”

          1. SolkaTruesilver says:

            “But if these European civilization don’t succeed at destroying the native people, you will never have the nation that has the money to actually produce the movie you are currently watching”

            Always nice to put things into perspective.

            1. PAK says:

              The fact that that IS what happened doesn’t mean it was the only way for things to happen.

              1. delve says:

                Or necessarily the best, as the timeline in question has also given us (in no particular order) global warming, multitudinous wars, and the US political system.

        3. rayen020 says:

          “We wanted to remake dances with wolves but the studios said we needed sci-fi and genre elements to sell to these dumb kids with their superhero movie fixations”?

      5. ccesarano says:

        Hrm, I’ve had enough anti-Rain-Forest-chopping morality plugged into my brain from Fern Gully and Captain Planet, neither of which I have fond memories of.

        I’ll stick with Tiernan’s other films, like Die Hard, 13th Warrior and Last Action Hero. The man knows how to make films about stuff blowing up and people getting killed.

  16. Chuck Henebry says:

    Stupid question, but how did you pay the hospital bill? In the early 90s, working fast food, I’m guessing you were uninsured.

    1. Shamus says:

      Public assistance. Welfare, basically.

      It was really odd. The hospital gave me clear directions of how to take care of things. “Go here, get this form, talk to these people.” I didn’t even understand until I walked in the door and realized, “Holy cow. This is like, the welfare office.” I filled out some paperwork and boom – no more bill. It was odd because they wanted me to sign up for other programs and such. (Well, I don’t know if “wanted to” is the right word. They seemed to expect it.) It took me a while to completely extricate myself from the system so that they stopped sending me paperwork and such. They wanted me to sign up and take part in the ongoing program, and I just wanted this one-time help.

      1. Abnaxis says:

        Sounds like they were doing what they were supposed to–a lot of the cost in healthcare comes from not catching problems before they become serious. Hence the nagging paperwork, probably trying to keep you going to regular checkups.

        1. Chris says:

          That’s pretty much the logic behind the NHS in the UK, as I see it.

          People go to the doctor when they “feel a bit ill”, which is easier and cheaper to deal with at that stage than the “alien facehugger has burst out of my ribcage and now I need a doctor to put my lungs back in” (common ailment on the NHS are those facehuggers, though this was just an example).

          EDIT: to clarify, I’m not suggesting anything regarding the US healthcare system. I did British History and Politics at A-level: that was the business case for the NHS as I understand it.

          1. Atarlost says:

            Hmm. Dealing with facehuggers or dealing with bureaucrats. Tough choice.

            1. delve says:

              Facehuggers are more human than bureaucrats.

  17. Jimmy Bennett says:

    The part of this story that really rings true for me is the part about the Coke commercials. Having spent many weeks in a hospital taking in fluids intravenously, I cannot begin to describe what a profound affect those commercials had on my poor, drug addled psyche.

    When you’re constantly thirsty, something about watching the nice people on the tv slowly poor a can of Coca Cola over ice just grabs you. I find it totally believable that you started to crave soda even though you knew that drinking it would cause you agony.

    Thanks for writing this series. It’s fun to read about the events that made Shamus Young the person he is today.

    1. Mari says:

      LOL That’s exactly what I do when I have bad sinus infections: I wake up with a sore throat from all the drainage, my face hurts beyond belief, and I can’t breath because it’s settling in my chest plus my stomach is queasy from the drainage. So what do I do? Go get me a big old bottle of cold Coke and suck it down so fast it brings tears to my eyes. That nice acidic beverage starts very quickly to chip away the layers of gunk building up in my throat and before I know it, I feel well enough to take some pills.

      1. Atarlost says:

        The syrup used to be marketed as an upset stomach remedy as well, though that may have been when it had cocaine in it.

        1. Meredith says:

          I can attest that Coke syrup still works very well for upset stomachs. I had a near miss with a hospital stay for a couple of infections last summer; instead I was given super strong antibiotics that made me extremely ill. A can of Coke was the only thing that got me on my feet long enough to be in my brother’s wedding.

          1. Stefano Marone says:

            Caffeine And Sugar. You’d be surprised to know for how long medicine went on with just these two active ingredients

            1. Mari says:

              Isn’t the caffeine still a primary ingredient in some headache medicines? I vaguely recall reading that it’s something called an “analgesic enhancer” and is one of the main ingredients in Excedrin or something.

              1. Jeff R. says:

                It is. And I often wonder if the reason it is is because headache is the primary symptom of caffeine withdrawal…

  18. Freebooter says:

    Holy Crap. I won’t even be born for another few months.

    1. Exasperation says:

      I commend your prenatal typing skills.

      1. Paul Spooner says:

        This message brought to you by Freebooter’s creepy prenatal mind-controlled mother.

        I was living with my parents and unemployable at the time. Be thankful for your job Shamus!

        1. Syal says:

          I was in kindergarten. So, me too.

    2. Cerapa says:

      3 years here.

    3. Aanok says:

      I was but a toddler! This series is a very interesting one to follow, even if one didn’t actually want Shamus to get hugs and snuggles forever (♥): just its hystorical and sociological value is astounding, especially since I only know about 80s-90s America through movies and fiction.

      All this talk about needles and hospitals is making me a bit uneasy, though *darts his eyes around nervously while scratching his arm*.

      1. Heather says:

        My mom was pregnant with my baby brother when I met Shamus, he was about 4 months old when we started dating.

        1. noahpocalypse says:

          “he was about 4 months old when we started dating.”

          … That makes it sound like you’re talking about Shamus. It would certainly explain his lack of social skills, I suppose. And some of the satire he does. A lot, now that you mention it.

        2. Mom says:

          Sometimes the baby came to our house with Heather. It was so nice to have a baby about.

          1. Sadly the baby is not a baby anymore. :P Good thing he grew up pretty awesome.

    4. swenson says:

      Assuming they went to prom in the spring, as I assume most proms are, I’ll be born in about two months. My mother’s currently on very strict doctor’s orders to don’t even think about getting out of that chair or you will be having that baby in your living room because even before birth, I was kind of a nuisance to the poor woman. :D

      I tend to lose track of time in these things, though. There’s not all that many reference points for me, other than “when Shamus was in school, they used computers that today are old”.

      1. Heather says:

        Yup– I think it was in May but I am not sure– I know we started dating in March because I think our first (or thereabouts) date might have been on my brother’s birthday because I seem to remember parents being irritated about that.

  19. deiseach says:

    Wonderful Things About Being With A Wonderful Woman Part MCMLXXVI: if she’s with me, I must have something going for me, right?

    1. Leonardo Herrera says:

      Money? Her lack of self esteem? Mother Theresa syndrome?

      Lots of possibilities here.

      1. deiseach says:

        We’ve already established she’s Wonderful so self-esteem should not be an issue. Money? If by that you mean ‘not having any’, then yeah. As for Mother Theresa (sic) syndrome, perhaps. But is that such a bad thing?

        1. PAK says:

          “As for Mother Theresa (sic) syndrome, perhaps. But is that such a bad thing?” Not in itself, no. But as a reason for being with a partner, absolutely. That’s unlikely to turn out well.

          Just playing Devil’s Advocate with that particular phrasing though. I agree with the spirit of your original post. And the Heather/Shamus story makes the romantic in me happy.

  20. Vekni says:

    I would not have expected to enjoy this sort of entry as much as I do.

  21. Mom says:

    Today’s ads on this site have all been about medical problems . Cancer treatment and spinal MRI’s. Yesterday the site attracted car insurance. (Flo herself)!

    1. Leah says:

      I am not goyn to mery.

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