(installments listed in reverse chronological order,
latest on top)
Sunday, November 1, 2009
Not surprisingly, lots of flakers
like to party hearty on Halloween. It only makes sense:
we spend a lot of every year super-conscious of our
flawed skin, doing our utmost to make it invisible (or
at least inconspicuous), then comes that one day of the
year where weirdness is celebrated, monsters make merry.
When the prospects of a Halloween party were first
discussed at the Psorgourmet several years back, Treat's
concern, which has been oft repeated in countless
contexts ever since, was voiced like this: "I'm not
licensed for nudie shows! Wouldn't the prevalent costume
be come as you are and show all?" Turned out that wasn't
a problem at all. Perhaps we have seen a few more
lesions than usual at our Halloween parties, but most
attendees do create costumes, many intended to poke fun
at how we treat our psoriasis.
Chloe and Frasier created hilarious and impressive
body-sized tubes of favorite topicals, then wore
them. Their heads stuck out of the screw-top
opening, their arms and feet emerged from tight
holes in the giant squeeze tube. Chloe came
as Diprolene™, Frasier as Dovonex™. When I asked
them if they knew the combination of the two was now
sold as Dovobet they smiled knowingly and Frasier
said, "We become Dovobet behind closed doors."
- Dawn showed up wearing a
light closet! It wasn't really, but it sure looked
authentic if not a little short. Plenty of fellows
tried to help her out of it and she resisted their
offers very patiently, I thought.
- Around his exposed midriff,
Carter wore a skin-colored belt from which jutted a
year's worth of Humira syringes. I couldn't believe
he'd saved them for this. Eventually he confessed he
hadn't; he had to tear apart his Sharps disposal
container to retrieve them.
- Jason (who fortunately had
the physique to actually make this look good) showed
up in a leotard covered with what looked like
chocolate pudding. Amazingly, the apparent goo was
hardened. The younger flakers couldn't guess what
Jason was punning; those of us over 40 had no
problem — a tar bather! A lot of us watched
jealously while unknowing and unoriginal young
ladies at the party teased Jason all night with
lines like, "Mmmm. I might just take a bite out of
you." If only they knew!
- Predictably, Treat's daughter
Patty showed up wearing a sandwich sign over a
bathing suit. The front of the sign had a
poster-sized picture of her a few months ago when
her arms, legs, neck and face were mottled with
lesions, and on the back was an equally large poster
of SpeedyRelief! When I congratulated her on her
entrepreneurial opportunism, she reached between the
boards of the sandwich sign and retrieved a brochure
(from where, exactly?) that she gave me.
- And then there was poor
Treat. He actually made an attempt at being
"costumed." He wore his Delasco Sleep Sauna
occlusion suit and everybody thought he was wearing
sweats. Countless times I heard "Where's your
costume, Treat?" and he would always take the time
to explain he was wearing an outfit designed to
occlude topical treatments widespread over the body
and limbs. Chances are, Treat sold a lot more
Delasco occlusion suits than Patty sold jars of
Eventually it came time for the
Karaoke contest, but a second after Treat turned off the
canned restaurant music I asked for a minute at the
"Fellow flakers," I started, "Our
illustrious poet laureate — Sherry Sheehan — is unable to join us here on
this Hallowed Eve, but she provided a few lines to
commemorate the occasion and I'd like to share them with
...scientifically known as
according to a look at Wikipedia,
is a deciduous tree, meaning it sheds
its leaves, once they've turned various reds
like psoriatic spots,
fictitious restaurant, 'The Psorgourmet,'
a sourgum-kindred place
for us pink peelers to grace.
Perhaps ‘The Psorgourmet’
us some sour gum sticks on the side,
once we have eaten what is yummy,
and for kids, maybe, a sour gummy.
On Halloween, what I have
only on a movie or TV screen,
fluorescent green sour gore may
be the yuckiest joke of the day.
1-2 Who's Afraid of Nightshades?
Monday, October 26, 2009
I've taken my lunch at The
Psorgourmet for so many years that some regulars think
I'm staff. I've been asked to fetch drinks, return
undercooked steaks, and had not-so-clean silverware
jabbed at me contemptuously. But all this has been worth
it; it comes with sitting at Treat's table, which is
halfway between the bar and the kitchen along the back
wall of the restaurant.
Sometimes Treat will have lunch with
me, but most of the time I eat alone because Treat is up
and down, tending to the lunch crowd and his staff.
Today, though, was different. Treat was deep in thought
when I arrived, showed me an upset face as I sat down,
grumbled, coughed and finally let it out.
"I'm under attack, Edward."
"A group of our customers is lobbying
to take nightshades out of our menu."
"Yes. Tomatoes, potatoes, peppers ...
and several spices."
"Your unhappy customers must be
Pagano's list of what not to eat may have been the
first that mentioned nightshades, but since then it's
come up in several other diets." Treat sniffed then took
a deep breath. "I should not be surprised. Over the past
year or so the number of inquiries about tomato in our
entrees has increased and many more folks are asking for
brown rice instead of potato. Changing times, Ed! But still,
how am I to cook without any tomato bases ... without
paprika or chili pepper? Eggplant is a favorite with the
vegans. That would have to come off, too!"
"Surely there's a way to compromise,"
Treat looked at me and sniffed.
"Create a section in your menu just
for people avoiding nightshades. Call it 'Sans
Nightshades,' or 'Pagano Approved,' or ... something
"That sounds like a good idea, Ed;
but do you think the lobbying will stop there? I mean,
Pagano's no-no list includes virtually all red meat."
I could feel the blood draining from
my face. "That would be taking it too far," I said. "No
Psorgourmet blackened rib eye? Unthinkable!"
Treat grinned maliciously.
"Blackened? Oh Ed, you poor desperado. Even if the
steaks were permitted the blackening would be out.
Peppers and other nightshade spices are in that
I sat silently dumbfounded as Treat's
daughter, Patty, emerged from the kitchen and spotted us
in our usual place. She sauntered over.
"And what would our compadre Edward
like for lunch today?"
"He wants our new and improved rib
eye," Treat said.
Patty frowned, "Hmmm. Just what is
our new and improved rib eye, Dad?"
"Tofu patty, baked, with our exciting
new curry sauce."
"It's coming on our new menu," Treat
said, "For those afraid of nightshades."
I interjected, "If the cook's not
prepared, Patty, please change that to a blackened rib
eye, cooked medium."
Patty headed for the kitchen. "We're
making light of it, Ed," but these folk are serious.
"The ones clamoring loudest for the menu changes have
much improved skin from their nightshades-free diet, and
it's difficult to argue with success."
At that moment a middle-aged woman
approached Treat. "Excuse me," she said. "I couldn't
help but notice the bar...."
I could not hear more. It was
altogether too frightening. My turn to be excused. I
exited the restaurant through the alley access and stood
there, hands in pockets, with a couple of the waiters
enjoying their cigarettes on a break. (Nicotine, by the
way, is a natural product of tobacco, which happens to
be a nightshade plant.)
1-1 A New OTC "Cure" Finds a Devotee
Friday, October 23, 2009
I thought, while I was headed for The
Psorgourmet this morning, the sidewalk section would be
closed for the season. This sad occasion usually
coincides with my turning climate control from "air
conditioning" to "furnace" at home, which I had done,
for the first time this fall, last night.
But I was mistaken. My friend Treat
was at his usual table in front of The Psorgourmet with
his mini-laptop and well-worn spiral notebook. The only
difference from last week: today he wore a long-sleeve
sweater. Three more people—a couple and a man
alone—occupied two more tables.
Treat saw me approaching his table.
"Edward! Good morning to you."
"I thought you'd have the outdoor tables and chairs all
put away for winter," I said.
"No no. It must get colder than this. Ms. Tammy—you know
her, I'm sure—told me a long time ago that seeing us
close the sidewalk cafe for the winter triggered her
worst flare of the year."
"Ah." I know Ms. Tammy pretty well. "By worst flare of
the year you mean she grew a second lesion?"
Treat looked at me with raised eyebrows, "Yes. But it
was on the other elbow. She was devastated." When I
started to chuckle, Treat added, "Don't laugh at Ms.
I said, "methinks she doth protest too much."
Treat shrugged and gazed out at the street, "Perhaps,
but who are we to judge?" He looked back at me,
"Especially you, Edward. You are still lesion-free,
aren't you? I shouldn’t let you frequent The
Psorgourmet. You haven't really qualified to enjoy the
place for, what, three years now?"
I raised my right foot and put it on the chair closest
to Treat, then I pulled up my pant leg exposing my calf
and the three-inch by three-inch lesion that had nested
there, inflamed, covered with an ash-colored scale
except where I'd raked it off with fingernails. The
trails from scratching were dotted with little spots of
"All right, Edward," Treat said after a brief study of
the exhibit. "Is the biologic starting not to work? I
hear that happens a lot."
"No, this lesion has never responded to biologics. Not
one of the three I've used has subdued this one. And it
is the ONLY one that has resisted the biologics."
"I think it's my brand. You know? Like cattle are
branded? Something tangible has to linger to make me
remember I am a psoriatic."
"And I see you cannot practice what you preach. You've
been scratching your one and only lesion. Scratching
until it bleeds."
I shrugged. "Yes. And, like always, piles of flakes
build up everywhere I sit and scratch."
Treat's daughter, Patty, emerged from the restaurant
and, spotted me showing her father my calf. "Well
Treat said, "Sit down, Edward, or she'll think you're
By the time she arrived I was seated. "What are you
noticing about me, you two?" she asked and we got a clue
when she spun around like a fashion model.
"New Capri pants?" Treat asked. She grimaced.
"New deck shoes?" I asked. She pouted.
"No, sillies. My skin. Look at my skin." We looked. She
had clusters of plaque lesions on her wrists, forearms
and upper arms, on her calves (beneath the Capri legs)
and her ankles.
I made a guess. "You're not flaking so bad. Your lesions
are salmon colored, not crimson. You’re in remission."
She clapped and chirped, "That's right. They’re capsules
called SpeedyRelief. All natural ingredients. I've been
taking them for a little over a month and LOOK!
Already!" She pulled up one leg of her Capris to show a
once-hideous lesion and the lower half of a shapely
thigh. I glanced at Treat, who was frowning.
“I haven’t been this clear since they took away SkinCap,”
Patty said, dropping her pant leg. Treat exhaled
audibly. “All my lesions are in remission. I can’t wait
to tell everybody about this. I want everyone to try
SpeedyRelief. It’s a CURE!”
“I’m glad it works for you,” I said. “I’ve not been able
to get good results from any non-prescription orals.”
She looked at me like a stalker might and I’m sure I
blushed. “This is different, Edward. You really must try
it. Three months, ninety-nine dollars. The cheapest and
the ONLY cure you’ll ever need.”
Was she quoting directly from an advertisement? I’m
sure. “I don’t have any active lesions right now,” I
said. “My biologic drug has cleared me completely.” I
felt Treat staring at my ear; but I figured he would not
object to my lie. Patty sucked in her lips and scowled.
“Oh gawd Edward. What does THAT cost you? Over a
thousand dollars a month, right? Everybody around here
complains about the cost of the biologics. Well, compare
that to ninety-nine dollars for a three month supply of
SpeedyRelief. And NO SIDE EFFECTS! Did I mention that?
No risk of infections, cancer. No sexual dysfunction,
Treat and I looked at each other,
"How could you NOT try, Edward?”
Patty asked and I didn't know whether to blush or
giggle, so I did neither.
"Yes Edward," Treat chimed in, "how
could you NOT try?"
Seconds past and I could think of nothing to say. Taking
pity on me, Treat cleared his throat and said, “Patty,
have you wrapped enough silverware for that crowd of
flakers I expect to arrive any minute now?”
She wasn’t fazed. Her eyes never left me. “Well? How
could you not try it, Edward?”
“Well,” I said, glancing away from her, “my co-pay for
the biologic is thirty dollars a month. That makes it
ninety dollars in three months. Still cheaper than
SpeedyRelief, and I’m walking around lesion free for the
time being. Maybe if the biologic stops working—“
Treat cut me off. “Your passion is admirable, daughter.
But it won’t wrap that silverware.”
She jerked her gaze away from me to her father. She
sighed. Back at me: “We’ll talk about this later,
Edward.” Her father and I watched her walk away. She
will make one helluva sales rep for some snake oil
company one day. We watched Patty stroll by the other
guests but, to our relief, she did not stop to pitch
SpeedyRelief to them.
I looked at Treat, “You're expecting a crowd of flakers
this far before lunch?”
He looked at me, “And you became
lesion-free inside the last three minutes?” and shook
I asked, “Why do women we know so well compel us to lie
Treat responded: “It amuses them. Don't think for a
moment we get away with it.”
Treat saw someone over my shoulder
and smiled broadly. I became aware of the cacophony of
voices and turned to see many familiar faces. It was a
crowd of flakers about to arrive.
©2009 FlakeHQ, Inc.