June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
THE WORD is a pain in the ass
- June, 2006
There are some words with such power we try to avoid using them.

We try not to say, “they died.” Instead we say, “they passed on,” or, “they are no longer with us.”

Others are so terrible we avoid them all together. In the world of Harry Potter, no one actually speaks the name of Voldemort, instead referring to him as, “He who shall not be named.” In the scholarly world, entire books have been written about, “The N-word.” And in more contemporary society we have our own dictionary demon.


This is a thing that we dare not speak its name. It does not come up in discussion; you will never hear the following in a bar: “Yeah, John, I was sorry to hear about your sprained ankle. But did I tell you about my hemorrhoid?”

Even curing it doesn’t allow us to say it. Other ailments get self-titled treatments: Arthritis Pain Formula, Tylenol Cold. Hemorrhoids get Preparation H, as if you’re getting your house ready for painting. 

I have become aware of the power of this word because I had one. (A hemorrhoid; I have words all the time, mainly with my Mom.) It caused me a remarkable amount a pain and altered my ability to do lots of things like work, sleep and ride bareback down the beach like Elizabeth Taylor. You know, the basics.

But unlike spraining your ankle or having your leg bitten off by a shark, you cannot simply explain to people why you walk funny when you have this word. For one thing, it’s in a part of your anatomy that does not come up in every day conversation, unless you happen to live in a fraternity house.

But it’s also that word: hemorrhoid.

The very sound of it is distasteful, indeed most every component of the word conjures up negative images. The second syllable: “mor,” as in lots, as in lots of irritation. And, “rhoid:” it rhymes with void, asteroid, and all sorts of other things people would rather not have nested near their intestine.

The word doesn’t even expand well. Hemorrhoidal sounds like a geologic epoch where a comet killed all the dinosaurs.

And over a period of days I decided it was going to kill me. There is a technical definition for a hemorrhoid, but I’ll spare you the grisly details. Perhaps it’s best just to say it’s vaguely like having a comet - lodged where no one has gone before.

Having survived being hit by a bus, I don’t give in to pain easily, or my wife’s insistence that I go a doctor. But when I could no longer sit in anything but a bathtub, I thought she might be on to something. Certainly, I wished I was on something.

So I went to the doctor, and he told me he’d have to make a minor incision to remove it. This is a fairly simple procedure, which is why it was strange that it seemed to involve so many people. By the time it was done, three different people had been part of my Tour de Pants.

They gave me a painkiller and deadened the area. I asked the nurse if this would be like the dentist, leaving my rear numb for hours. She didn’t know, although she was curious why my hiney would go numb at the dentist. She was oh so very funny, but she was also very attractive, so it was worth it. Some people are welcome on the tour.

This was an uncomfortable procedure, and again I’ll spare you the details. However, if were to stay within the realm of sports analogies, let’s just say what started as the passing breeze of a bicycle race quickly became the Calgary Stampede.

When it was all said and done, it had been a very painful and embarrassing day. Only because I’ve been maimed by something as demure as a starfish and had a career as a performing dog did I not just want to crawl under a rock and die.

That came next.

Keeping a surgical incision – even a tiny one – clean in this region of your body requires great diligence, and a trip to Safeway. For the record, I could go the rest of my life and never again have to purchase a douche bottle and maxipads for myself. I suppose I should be happy they didn’t need to do a price check.

In the days after my little problem, I really didn’t tell many people what had happened. But I have come to realize that by not saying a word, we give it power it might not otherwise have. And I, for one, refuse to let a hemorrhoid have power over me. (That’s my wife’s job.)

Until the other day, of course. The day when I was standing on the fishing dock with a bunch of other guys and a maxipad fell out of my pant leg. I wanted to die, and I expelled a variety of things under my breath, none of which can be printed in a newspaper.

But let’s just say there’s a word for it.