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Many people decide which medical practitioners they can trust based on music, and I can sympathize. If “The Girl From Ipanema” is playing in their waiting room, that’s a good sign. But if they get wheeled in for brain surgery and there’s a copy of “Foghat Takes Toronto” next to the band saw, well, don’t expect to remember your vowels when you wake up.

I actually knew a girl from Ipanema. True story. She was on a train to Omaha with me and I said “What’s a girl from Ipanema like you doing on a train to Omaha” and she said “I’ve got the urge to ride the rails.” And I said “But the train from Ipanema doesn’t even leave for another hour.” Then she started getting emotional and saying she’d just run away from a religious cult that worshiped Simon and Garfunkel and she was on her way to get surgery on her neck, because singing “Cloudy” five times a day since age 15 had taken its toll. Her mind was in bad shape too – she kept saying “We weren’t feelin’ groovy,” which was a complete non-sequitur.

Neck surgery has gone through a lot of changes over the years, but one thing that they’ve kept in there is that they work on the neck and not some other place. At least they have a little sense. But a guy I know who sits in the hospital lobby a lot says they’re trying to do neck surgery through the fourth dimension now. They’re going to operate on your neck before you even have one! I guess everyone’s neck is healthy in the present so they don’t have anyone to operate on unless they go backwards in time. That just figures. Now we’re all going to have to walk around as kids worrying about getting operated on by doctors in the future. No thanks.

After careful thought I’ve put together some safety tips in case doctors contact your past self and start to prepare him/her for neck surgery:

1) Run to the nearest police station, unless your past self existed before the movie Timecop came out, because the pre-Timecop police won’t be able to stop them. Yet. In that case, run to the zoo and pretend you’re an antelope.

2) Tell them you’d already rescheduled with their receptionist for next Thursday, and they’ll time travel out of there. But make sure your past self writes it down on their calendar, because they’ll be back that Thursday and you’ll just have to go through everything again.

3) Speak only in Morse Code, because the surgeons will think another patient’s heart is racing and they’ll have to find some sedatives for them.

4) If cornered, say “my insurance doesn’t cover that” and they’ll leave you alone.

5) If your past self likes the idea of futuristic neck surgery, tell them to knock it off.

6) Tell your friends that they shouldn’t vote for any candidate who says “our children’s future depends on neck surgery in the past.”

Hopefully these tips will get the docs off our backs – I mean, necks. If not we’ll all have to take the train to Omaha and meet up with the Simon and Garfunkel cult deprogrammers. They’ve got a pretty big safe house – three bedrooms and a nice-sized gas grill.

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