New Ideas

Like too many Americans, I have to take a pile of pills in the morning. I take them from my pill box with the days of the week marked, and then I put them all in the palm of my hand, toss them into my mouth, and hope to swallow the lot with a glass of water. Almost all the time, this procedure works, even if it does not look very pretty.

But once in a while one or two of the little pills will fly to the kitchen floor and disappear. Then I have to get down on my hands and knees and search for the missing medication. If I knew more about physics or something, maybe I could calculate the trajectory, if that’s the right word, and find my missing pills using the scientific method. Lacking that ability, I just look around, swear a lot, squint my eyes, and say, “Where the hell did that sucker go, for crying out loud?” Maybe under the kitchen table. Maybe under the little table on wheels by the garden window. Maybe under the stove or the refrigerator. Maybe in the sink. Maybe out the kitchen door and down the street to the bottom of the hill, just like the meatball in the song “On Top of Spaghetti.”

So there I am, without some important pill, except that I have swallowed the other pills so I don’t even know which pill I am looking for. Is it a vitamin? Is it some exotic supplement that I hope will help me look younger and stronger? Is it one of the pills my doctor prescribed for something or other? What I do know is that the offending pill was round. Of course it’s round; that’s why it rolled someplace where I can’t spot it. And that leads me to my new idea: all pills should be shaped like a rectangle or a triangle or a pentagon, hexagon, octagon, or even a parallelogram. Just no circles, please. Any pill with some nice straight sides should fall to the floor and pretty much stay there, shouldn’t it?

So here’s my plan. Congress, at my urging, will pass a law requiring all drug manufacturers to make pills in straight shapes; circles will be forbidden. No pills imported into this great country of ours will be round, not anymore! In addition, every single drug manufacturer will have to provide pills in every possible angled shape, triangle, hexagon, rhombus, octagon, whatever. You remember plane geometry, don’t you? You see, if they have to provide maybe ten shapes, then our sluggish economy will be able to produce something: machines to construct pills of various configurations. But we must make sure that no machine is allowed to produce more than one shape. We wouldn’t want to change one little thing and then produce another design with the same machine, let’s say hexagons in the morning and octagons in the afternoon. No, that wouldn’t do. We need to require every drug company to have lots of machines so that someone back in Dubuque, Iowa is busy making those machines. I hope the drug companies remember to construct machines that will last only a few years. That way, workers in Flint, Michigan or Youngstown, Ohio will have something to do forever, or for the next fifty years, whichever comes first.

I can hear the sound of those whirring machines: “Chugga, chugga. Swoosh. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh. Bong. Bong. Tapp, tap tap. Whoosh, whoosh whoosh.” It’s the sound of money being made. Whoopee! That’s the sound of yours truly being happy, happy to have taken a lemon and made lemonade. Happy to have snatched victory from the jaws of defeat. Overjoyed at being able to contribute to the well-being of an entire nation. There is no need for applause.

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