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David Bruce: Don’t Fear the Reaper — Injuries/Illnesses, Language


• Dr. Rose Smart treats many injured ballet dancers. Among other things, she pushes a dancer’s lumbar back into place when needed. Normally, she does this by having the injured person lie on her back and flex her legs against her. Then Dr. Smart would tell the injured person to give a push, and the lumbar would go back into place. However, early in her career, she was unaware of the strength of ballet dancers. She once told a ballerina to push her leg with all her strength — and Dr. Smart ended up peeling herself from the wall. On another occasion, she did the same procedure with a male dancer, and he broke one of her ribs. Now she uses a different procedure to treat dancers with lumbar problems.

• Polly, the young niece of Alexander Woollcott, had to see a doctor because of a sore leg. Polly was convinced that she was going to die, and she accepted her fate, but her mother was terribly upset, especially when Polly talked about dying. When they arrived at the doctor’s office, the doctor looked at Polly, who was serene, and he looked at Polly’s mother, who was distraught. Then he stuck a thermometer into the mother’s mouth.

• Don Marquis suffered a series of strokes, which made him unable to work. Low on funds, he resigned from The Players Club. The treasurer of the club, David McKinley, wrote him a letter, to which Mr. Marquis responded, “My dear Dave, I have your letter in which you express the hope that Dame Fortune may be smiling on me. She is, but it is the most sarcastic goddam smile I ever saw on anyone’s face.”

• F.E. Smith, later Lord Birkenhead, once cross-examined a boy who claimed that his arm had been crippled in an accident. He asked the boy, “Will you show me just how high you can lift your arm?” The boy raised his arm a little. F.E. then said, “Thank you, and now will you show me just how high you could lift it before the accident?” The boy then raised his arm high over his head. Case closed.

• Staying in a hospital can be expensive for the patient, the insurance company, or the government, or a combination of these.. When Quaker humorist Tom Mullen was in a hospital, he roomed with a Medicare patient who wanted a nurse to put this sign by his bed: “Your Tax Dollars at Work.” By the way, not all nurses have a good bedside manner. When Mr. Mullen was in a hospital, a nurse looked at his medical chart and then told him, “You are one sick puppy.”

• British war hero Lord Nelson had one arm. A stupid person once told him, “I beg your pardon, my lord, but you have only one arm.” Lord Nelson used his remaining arm to pick up his empty sleeve, then he looked into it with a surprised look on his face. “Bless my soul,” he said. “I do believe you are right.”

• While on his deathbed, John Philpot Curran coughed frequently. When his physician told him that he was coughing with more difficulty, he replied, “That is surprising, since I have been practicing all night.”


• Chico Marx sometimes asked his daughter, Maxine, to speak French in front of French visitors because she had studied French for years with private teachers. Charles Boyer complimented her accent, and Chico said, “She better have a good accent. It cost me $20,000.” Maxine met someone through a practical joke. She and some girlfriends were thinking of someone to prank-call. One girlfriend worked as a teller in bank, and she had Maxine call a bank customer and pretend to be from France and to have met him as a party. She called him, faked a French accent, and pretended to know him. He asked her to meet him for dinner, she accepted, and all during dinner she kept up the fake French accent. She discovered that she liked him — a lot — and at the end of the dinner, she said in her fake French accent that she had something to tell him. Then, in her regular American voice, she said, “I really don’t have to talk like that at all.” Fortunately, he laughed. Later, they got married.


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved



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