The Conclusion of our Story

Six months out of the hospital saw me aging fast and working a nine to five in order to hold onto a small apartment in the city. It was surprising how little had actually changed in the world. I mean sure everyone looked and smelled different. In some cases the people were downright disturbing. But the sun still rose in the east, set in the west and in between people worked played and did their best to survive. Just like always. I kept taking my meds occasionally but I really didn’t need them so much once I left the hospital. I spent my free time with other old geezers, talking about the good old days when chickens were small and tasty, among other things. Funny thing is I was still twice the age of most of those old farts but I still looked worlds better. From them I learned all about genetically modified food, how my tomatoes were part frog and salamander. That stuff wasn’t even science fiction in my day. The same goes for hormone enhanced and mass produced livestock. I guess some things were different after all. I went to the hospital for my regular checkups, got shots and even managed to get myself off some of those prescriptions. I was sitting in the waiting area before one of those checkups when a ridiculous looking man in a Hawaiian shirt and panama hat sat down beside me. He hadn’t brought anything to do and when he didn’t reach for one of the magazines laying about I knew I was in trouble. “I’m here for my daughter,” he said. “Hm.” That’s all I said. “She’s going to be giving birth soon.” “Congratulations,” I said and stuck my face further into the magazine I was reading. “All of a sudden she’s worried about nutrition, pesticides, hormones and the like but she still doesn’t see the big picture.  I’ve been giving her some minerals and heirloom vegetables from my garden: those haven’t had their DNA scrambled.” He laughed. “It’s amazing how priorities change. Just a few months ago she couldn’t have cared less about that sort of thing.” I’ll admit at that point I was a little interested but I didn’t own up to it right away. Instead I just mumbled, “funny how that happens huh?” “You bet,” he said. “I try to stay on top of things like that: nutrition, holistic healing, you name it. Do you know how hard it is to find good food?” I laughed at that one. “You’re preaching to the choir,” I said. “What’s you’re name anyway?” He asked. “Steve Williams.” “Just call me Bob,” he replied. We shook hands and after that day things really started to turn around for me. Bob was definitely not your typical old man, he was an almanac of do it yourself healthcare. He called it the natural way. Bob ran every day, for starters. The guy drank more water than I thought was possible and everything he ate he made at home. I’ve never seen him take anything more complicated than a cough drop but he took all sorts of minerals, vitamins, teas, you name it. The most interesting part is that he never had that horrible breath problem many people seemed to have, or scaly skin like my doctor. In fact, when I actually found myself gagging on my own breath I decided to ask him about it. So I gave Bob a call and we met for a quick lunch in the park. I rushed through the small talk, stuffed down my sandwich and finally popped the big question. I said, “Bob. You know I’ve been asleep for awhile.” He just nodded, chewing hungrily at his own sandwich. “Well when I woke up things were different. Not just cars and planes that sorta stuff but people too. People today are not the same as they used to be.” That got his full attention. “Well everyone’s a bit shorter they say. What else have you noticed?” I cleared my throat. Bob and I had become fast friends and I shared quite a bit with him but I had no idea how he’d react to my next few words. “Well,” I said, “everyone stinks, for starters.” Bob laughed. “That’s nothing new!” “I don’t mean their personalities although folk were a lot friendlier way back when. They smell Bob, like rotting garbage sometimes or worse. Now I’m getting it too. And what’s with all these people in the hospital day in and day out?” Bob just laughed. “You want me to tell you the meaning of life while I’m at it too?” I smiled and waited patiently for an answer. “Well,” he said “health in general just ain’t what it used to be my friend. In your day it was pure unadulterated food all around, relatively clean air, water. All that’s different now. You want good produce you have to grow it yourself. Looking for good meat? Good luck.” I laughed. Bob continued, “All of that has to add up to something right? Now the smell that’s a lot simpler. Yeast.” I lifted an eyebrow. “What do you mean? There’s nothing new about that.” Bob nodded and said, “You’re right but it’s in a lot more food now and some yeast is genetically modified to be more potent.” “I still don’t get it,” I said. “Yeast is fungus,” he explained, “and fungus smells. If you get too much of it then you smell too. It can also cause excessive gas, bloating acid reflux you name it.” I thought about that for a moment then something occurred to me. “You don’t smell Bob. But here you are eating a sandwich too so what gives?” “This bread doesn’t have any yeast,” he said. “Nothing I eat does which is why I always eat at home there’s no telling what you’re eating out there.” I would’ve laughed if anyone else told me that story but coming from Bob it seemed somehow to make sense. His lack of bad breath or lizard skin also helped to sway me in his direction. “Alright,” I said. “Just tell me what I have to do.” Bob smiled ear to ear and started talking again.