RAYMOND REID: Who Wants To Be Happy All Night?
A buddy asked me the other day to try a Red Bull. In case you didn't know, Red Bull is an energy drink that has been pegged as the "keep-you-happy-all-night" beverage.
In addition to megadoses of B6 and B12 vitamins, Red Bull contains all the niacin you need for a week, plus caffeine and two amino acids. I found out that Red Bull is the beverage of choice for 20- to 30-year-olds who want to stay happy all night at dance clubs in New York and Los Angeles.
I don't remember the last time I was happy all night, at a dance club or anywhere else. And although I didn't plan on nocturnal glee when I did an all-nighter at the hospital last week, I was hoping that Red Bull would at least take off the edge. After all, the drink's tag line is: "Vitalizes body and mind."
Well, neither my mind nor my body was vitalized that night. Maybe it was the company I was keeping -- outside in the smoking section.
"Sir, I love the smell of that pipe," said a chubby little lady who was smoking butts from the communal ashtray. "Thank you," I said. "Gives me something to do with my hands, you know -- trying to keep it lit."
I should have just kept my mouth shut, because she started waving her hands and babbling incoherently. And rest assured, she wasn't talking into her cell phone via a Blue Tooth. She was talking to herself.
(Had she been drinking Red Bulls, I feared?)
About that time another lady started jumping up and down and screaming, "I'm a grandmother. I'm a grandmother! Can you believe it? I'm a 34-year-old grandmother!"
The Red Bull wanted me to say, "Wow, you started kind of young, didn't you?" But I was able to restrain myself.
But I couldn't help but introduce myself to "Darren." Darren was hooked to an IV as he smoked a cigarette. "What's a nice guy like you doing in a place like this," I asked. (That's the first time I've ever used that line on a guy. Had to be the Red Bull talking.)
"Well," said Darren, "I've been here since before Christmas with a staph infection. If I'm lucky, I'll be out by mid-February."
"Too bad," I said. "How did you come down with that?"
Darren put his head in his hands for a minute before he replied, "It all goes back to 1991. I was in Operation Desert Storm, and took shrapnel in the back that actually exited this leg. (He showed me the scars). And I've had problems ever since, including pneumonia that led to this staph infection."
He went on to tell me about his dad who pulled four tours of duty in Vietnam, and is still in-and-out of VA. hospitals; and his brother, who is stationed in Baghdad for at least the rest of this year.
Then along came "Bill." Bill has been at the hospital with his father since before Thanksgiving. His dad was hospitalized with a stroke and a bad fall. He also has Alzheimer's.
When I asked if he had siblings that could help, Bill said, "No, but that's OK. Dad took care of me and raised me. Now, I'm just proud to be able to take care of him."
(When does this Red Bull kick in? I feel like I've died and gone to smoker's hell.)
"So what do you do, Mr. Reid?" Bill asked.
"Well, Bill," I stammered. "Among other things, I, uh, write newspaper columns."
"What kind of columns, Mr. Reid?"
"Bill would you believe humor columns?"
Raymond Reid, who maintains a home in Pinehurst, can be reached at email@example.com.
More like this story