The doctor, upon hearing that the new medication was “as if I weren’t taking it,” advised an increase in the dosage. I was always tired, always operating on the sleep pattern of a newborn, always forced to choose which one task I could actually complete in a day before sinking into an extended state of droop, staring at nothing in particular while willing myself to move a limb. So I took it.

I awoke to a new existence. Eyes were open, really and truly open, before the sun rose. staring over at Josh The Pilot and wondering how he could just lay there while I was trying to figure out whether, when Jesus was human on Earth, He was also simultaneously in heaven, and if so, whether this split Him up, and therefore if so, did His part in Heaven have to expand to re-fill the void left by on-Earth Jesus, and if not, why did he have to pray to God if He was God and God was also hanging out right there in heaven? DIDN’T HE CARE?! No. He was too busy keeping his eyes closed.

I attended a yoga class, “Gentle Stretch,” a euphemistically titled session for the past-prime hot yoga nymphs (me) and the sullenly arthritic (also me.) I lay on my back in the dark space, wishing someone would suggest FOUR HUNDRED JUMPING JACKS AND THEN SWIMMING THE ENGLISH CHANNEL WAIT I NEED TO DEEP-CLEAN OUR ENTIRE APARTMENT BUILDING AND ALSO LEARN HOW TO READ LATIN WAIT DID I TURN OFF THE HOSE IN THE HOUSE WE LIVED IN TWO HOUSES AGO?

“Lower your body to the mat where your uterus meets the earth,” said the instructor; meanwhile, I had noticed, with far more fascination than alarm, that each hand was vibrating on a separate frequency.

Writing phrases and essay concepts were cannonballing through my head so quickly that I brought a notebook with me into church because there was no possible way to avoid bending over the Notes app on my phone for an entire hour. I vacuumed. I started texting people about this new life of mine: “Is this what it feels like to be a functioning member of society?” “Let’s hike the entirety of Route 66 next week if you’re available; I’m leaving at 3 AM on Tuesday.” “I absolutely could have invented cold fusion if I was able to feel like this at any point in the past four decades.”

After several days days of this, I examined the label on the pill bottle to find out when I was due for a refill, as the supply within was curiously low. And that is when I discovered that I had been accidentally dosing myself with 600 milligrams of a drug originally formulated to wean smoking addicts from nicotine dependance.

It is rather a dispiriting experience to travel in the space of ten minutes from resolving to repot every single daffodil along Columbia Parkway to listening to the Dial-A-Nurse ring up Poison Control. Google helped the situation by providing search results ranging from predicting outcomes of instant death due to seizure all the way to instant death due to serotonin toxicity.

The doctor had the audacity to be away from her phone at 1 AM as I stared at the ceiling and wondered if the end would come immediately, or if I would first have time to completely wipe my hard drive. She called back the next morning to inform me that I would “probably be fine” and that I should “maybe back off caffeine for the moment” because “occasionally missing a heartbeat isn’t exactly normal” and that in the future it was best to ensure I was taking “the actual dose instead of accidentally doubling it.”

So the new life I thought I’d found was quite literally in my head. I was certain I was experiencing some sort of personal-failing breakthrough when all that had actually happened was 72 hours of having essentially done eight rails of cocaine in the Kroger Pharmacy parking lot.

The thing about operating under a delusion that we desperately want to be true is we are more prone to ignore evidence that it is not. We see the lightness of Billy Hamilton and assume that surely he will eventually figure out how to connect the bat with the ball at some point. Bob will sell the team; surely he will at some point. If a scout notices a high schooler throwing 97, he is apt to presume that his injury-inviting throwing action can be trained out of him over a few weeks in Arizona. He listens to the gathering data of the radar gun, quieting a voice from the gut informing him that this kid would likely be flat on a gurney for his second Tommy John surgery before he was old enough to drink.

We often discuss the many ways in which baseball is built on hope. This exists on an out-by-out level; a batter who makes contact only 1/3 of the time is considered quite good indeed.

That is why, I think, Cincinnati sports are so out of whack. We just don’t know what normal is anymore, so when we see a glimmer of relief, we pounce on it like a wombat. We were so shocked to find ourselves in a Super Bowl last year that people lost all recognition of proportion; both my sister and nephew’s schools were the day after the Super Bowl on fundraising incentive days because the administrators of both schools simply assumed that the Bengals would regularly such things now. Why not?

Meanwhile, the Reds are advertising ticket packages up and down billboards on I-75 as if this is a team with a healthy relationship with its fanbase; the ownership projects an assumption that everyone will flock to the stadium as we have pretty much always done. Past numbers support this assumption. But anyone paying attention to those who keep this fandom afloat will swim in quite a different data stream.

Experience is important. Data is important. But so, too, is a good grasp on reality.


10 Responses

  1. LDS

    The only chance the Reds have of filling the stadium is if the toxic spill upriver was actually the drug you doubled. Otherwise, none of us are delusional enough to give Bob more money.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Oh crap I forgot about the toxic spill. That’s all we need now!

      • LDS

        You could have done much more with the spill than I.

  2. Mark Moore

    Today’s well turned phrase for me is “pounce on it like a wombat” and I may just have to search the old U-Tube for videos of that happening.

    Quite frankly, I can’t add anything to your extraordinary prose today. I’m fractionally hopeful that we’ll see progress over 2022, especially from a few young players. And to see far fewer injuries so we get more consistency and don’t wind up totally subject to the whims of DTBell and whoever Bull Krall has dragged off somebody else’s scrap heap.

    This I know for sure. It is mid-70’s here in Raleigh and the windows on my office are open to the breeze.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Thank you! Fractionally hopeful as Cincinnati hit 70 today as well. It sure does help with everything else, doesn’t it?

  3. Rednat

    the 21st century has not been good to the reds. we have to have one of the worst records in the league for the century with no end in site. for the first time in my life I am starting to really wonder if a team like the reds can really survive in the majors. soon we will have teams with 1 billion dollar payrolls. there is less youth baseball today so it will be harder to find cheap position players to fill in the gaps. how can a team with a 100million dollar payroll survive. what will their purpose be in the league. as usual, good thought provoking stuff Mary Beth

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      TY 🙂 Although… I hadn’t thought of it in terms of being disappointed for the entire century so far. Oof.

  4. Melvin

    Yeah. Big Bob & Son would have us live in a delusional world if we were to trust them. Fortunately most Reds fans are not as stupid as they think we are. I’m sorry you had to go through what sounds like a very unpleasant experience Mary Beth.

    • Mary Beth Ellis

      Well thanks, but it really was most enjoyable while it lasted 🙂