This is the way AOL manages to squeeze another click out of you. It remains my favorite portal nonetheless, because it combines actual news along with the latest upheavals in the hot mud of politics, plus an inside look at the sludge-funnel of celebrity misbehavior, all potential sources of inspiration to a man devoted to crafting a thousand words of satire or so a week.
I hesitated because I was fantasizing about possible causes of Mr. Douglas's disease. I used to smoke and I still drink, so I am already in considerable peril from the Big C. Perhaps Douglas had narrowly avoided a speed date with the Grim Reaper because he had engaged in some form of excess that I had successfully avoided, so I could go around the remainder of the day feeling smug about my health practices. Maybe Michael had contracted cancer because he drank too much club soda. I hate that stuff. Or he put ketchup on his bacon, another custom from which I have the personal discipline to abstain. I feel that the natural, cholesterol-soaked and nitrate enhanced taste of bacon needs no flavor-enhancement from Heinz.
I clicked on the page and discovered, no such luck. The habit that Douglas blamed for his cancer was one I had engaged in for years, a sexual practice known by many colorful Anglo-Saxon expressions but formally by the Latinate, cunnilingus. Yes, according to Douglas, who reaped his medical expertise by playing a doctor in "Coma," his obsession with oral sex caused his cancer.
I immediately began the process of denial. I couldn't be in danger, I rationalized, because I haven't cunnigulated nearly as much as Michael Douglas, for sure. He's older than me, for one. Also, he's Michael Douglas. When he meets an attractive woman at a bar and says “I'm Michael Douglas, and I want to cunnilingulate on you,” the woman is far more likely to agree to it than if I said the same thing to her, because first, if I have ever said any such thing to any such woman, I was probably pretty well unpleasantly stewed on distilled beverages at the time, and secondly because it is fairly obvious I am not Michael Douglas.
By the way, if want to use the word “cunnilingulate” in your own writings, you will find that your spell-checker stubbornly refuses to endorse it. Just click “add to dictionary.”
The sound of bedroom doors slamming shut all over America greeted the Douglas announcement.
Americans like nothing more than oral sex, but when it's discovered that while it's still more fun than smoking twenty Marlboro's at once, it carries the same cancer risk, a chorus of, “Sorry, honey, not tonight. I think I'm getting a cold sore,” will echo through the land.
And what of Douglas's lovely wife, the actress Catherine Zeta-Jones? At nearly sixty years younger than him, will she be doomed to spend the rest of her days stigmatized as a carcinogen? Will some future nanny state require a suitable warning be tattooed on her, where a potential cunnilingator couldn't fail to see it, warning him or her of the possible cancerous consequences of the act?
If so, that adds a whole new meaning to the phrase “educated consumer."
I shared the news about Douglas with my Significant Other at a pool bar in Baja where we are vacationing. As we discussed the tragedy, the song “Addicted to Love” came over the bar's sound system.
“Listen, I said, “It's Michael Douglas's theme song.”
“Hardly,” she sniffed. “That's more like “I Come from a Land Down Under.”