Years ago I wrote to Pulitzer-prize-winning humor columnist Dave Barry and warned him not to pose for Playgirl because once a person has seen another person naked, nothing the undressed individual says will seem funny to the spectator ever again. In short, that explains why Spouser laughs at everyone else’s jokes but not mine.

Dave Barry wrote back and said, not to worry, he had no intentions of ever posing for Playgirl and encouraged me to continue writing. He later sent an 8x10 autographed photo that looms above our bed like a toothy gargoyle.

“Is that thing coming down when you stop writing?” Spouser asks, as I dust off Dave, kiss him and replace the frame to his metal hook.

“Not a chance,” I remark with the same expression Spouser gets when I turn off CNN during dinnertime.

But the truth is, next to Dave, will soon be a companion color photo of nurse Florence Nightingale to inspire me as take out more student loans and ramp up the class load to finish my bachelor’s degree in nursing. It’s the only way I can help see us through these difficult financial times.

So I say to Spouser, wrapping a rubber tie band around his arm and tapping lightly. “Your veins look plump and ready for an I.V.”

“Excuse me! Do I look like a human pincushion to you?” He asks, pulling his arm away.

“You’ll do,” I reply. “I’ve got to practice on someone, don’t I?”

“What about—”

I catch his eyes as they fix on Jenny Craig, one of our sleeping cats. “Don’t get any weird ideas,” I warn. “Veterinary medicine is different.”

Over the 14 years I’ve been writing humor columns, there hasn’t been a shortage of people willing to let me write about them, but switch to nursing, and all guinea pigs vanish.

So for now, I’ll take Spouser and Mindy’s blood pressure and heart rate several times a day (for practice). I’ll spill ketchup on my clothes to get used to looking at the color red (for blood), and I will watch every medical show I have time for to pick up on any tidbit of info —

“Aren’t those scrubs precious?” I ask Spouser, leaning in toward the TV during an episode of nip/tuck.

“Scrubs shmubs,” he replies with a wave of his hand, “they all look like oversized pajamas to me.”

“At least I won’t have to get up every morning and be bothered with what to wear.”

“No,” he replies sarcastically, “you’ll have to wake up every morning and think you never left the hospital because, in fact, you’ll probably work nights and double shifts.”

“I guess you’ll have to help out with the housework then,” I reply, a grin spreading on my face.

This shuts him up every time.

“That vein sure looks like a good one for an I.V.,” I say, reaching ever so slowly toward his juicy arm.

“NO!” he says, covering himself with a blanket. “You’re like living with a mosquito! Go find someone else to poke.”

So, my dear friends, due to time constraints and the necessity to study 24-7, I will not write my column for a while. I will, however, keep a journal and come back to it STAT (that’s medical terminology for a.s.a.p.), and hopefully I will write a guest column from time to time. I hope we meet again but not in the emergency room, as that’s where I intend to work after I graduate.

I can’t help but think of the “Goodnight; Goodnight song” from the old Lawrence Welk Show: Good night, good night. Until we meet again. Adios, au revoir, until we meet again. And though it’s always sweet sorrow to part. You know, you’ll always remain in my heart. Good night, sleep tight; and pleasant dreams to you. Here’s a wish, and a prayer that all your dreams come true. And, so,‘til we meet again…. Adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen.

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