by Mike Todd

“Where are you? I know you can hear me!” I whisper-shouted, creeping down the porch steps in my slippers. The crusty snow crunched under my feet because my wife had neglected, for several days, to make me shovel it. Sometimes, it’s like she’s not even trying.

I gripped the railing as my slippers nearly fell off with each step. Their looseness, the very trait that made them such excellent slippers (if you have to touch your slippers with your hands to take them on or off, they are not slippers; they are indoor shoes), drastically reduced their usefulness as impromptu snow-boot substitutes.

“Don’t fall, Mike. You must not fall. You haven’t hit your health insurance deductible yet,” I thought.

Of course, since I’m on a high-deductible plan like everybody else, my insurance company won’t need to pay for anything this year unless I get a multi-organ transplant accompanied by a live performance in the operating room by Beyoncé, or wind up in a full-body cast after, say, slipping down my front steps in an ill-fated attempt to induce my dog to come back inside so that I can go to sleep.

I don’t plan on anything going wrong like that, though. When you’re a health nut like me who always allows the grease to drip off your pizza, where it harmlessly congeals on your plate instead of in your arteries, you can take your chances with a cheaper health plan. I also get plenty of aerobic exercise every evening, running from room-to-room, turning off the lights that everyone else in the family has left on.

“Why is the kitchen lit up like Vegas?” I’ll ask, wiping the sweat from my brow after completing the upstairs flip-switching circuit.

“What’s Vegas?” my son will reply.

“A place with lower electricity bills than we have,” I’ll say, hearing footsteps in the upstairs hallway and heading back up for my next set of reps.

So my family is helping me stay in shape, and my health plan also encourages me to stay healthy by making preventive care completely free.

“What’s the nature of your appointment today?” the receptionist at the doctor’s office will ask.

“Oh, it’s preventive,” I’ll say. “I need the doctor to prevent any more blood from squirting out of this hole in my arm. Also, do you think he could prevent this shard of bone from sticking out like this?”

If you phrase it correctly, you can get free medical care for just about anything. You just have to get them to prevent something that already happened.

At the bottom of the steps, I called for the dog again. She likes to hide from me at bedtime, running around the house, rounding the corner just as I do, so that I only catch a glimpse of her tail. She’s always there, so close but just out of reach, like the presidency for Hillary.

“I just want to go to sleep, animal. Please come inside,” I pleaded to the darkness, trying to keep too much more snow from piling into my admittedly poor choice of footwear.

At least I had the peace of mind that she couldn’t get too far away. The invisible fence that we installed when she was a puppy has proven to be one of the best purchases of our adult lives. It’s just like they say: “If you love something, set it free. If it comes back to you, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, make sure it’s wearing a shock collar so that it’ll get a good jolt when it tries to leave.”

After a few more laps, I found the dog waiting at the back door as if she’d been there all along. If I hit my deductible this year, I’ll have to look into some blood pressure medication.

You can let the grease drip off of Mike Todd at mikectodd@gmail.com.

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