'TIS THE SEASON 
TO BE CRANKY

   My wife, who would not make a very good nurse, was rather unimpressed when I told her a few days ago that I had a disease.
   "That's ridiculous," she said when I explained that I had diagnosed myself with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). "You don't have SAD. You don't have anything. You're fine. You're just making it up. You're..."
   "STOP!" I cried. "YOU'RE MAKING IT WORSE!"
   But she plowed on, dismissing my pleas for mercy. Perhaps she's insensitive because she knows my disease is curable. In fact, I told her that I'll be fine, like always, once December 21st rolls around and the days begin getting longer (I came to this conclusion after exhaustive research into my self-diagnosis).
   "About 5% of people in the United States suffer from SAD," I explained. "And another 10 to 20% have a mild form. I'm putting myself in that latter category."
   "Glad to hear you're not suggesting you're clinically depressed," she said. "That's serious stuff. Your disease sounds more like you're trying to get out of helping me with the Christmas decorations."
   I hate Christmas. I hate buying the tree, decorating it, going shopping. I hate everything. I have a disease, and it's incurable until December 21st. Fortunately, Christmas Day comes after that, so I'll be recovered by then and love everything about it.
   Finally, she tried to be sympathetic. It was a Saturday, but she thought it was worth a try. "Why don't you go to work," she said in that fake soothing voice. "Being productive always makes you feel better."
   I hate going to work at this time of year. My business (restaurants and retail stores) caters primarily to tourists, and there are no tourists in early December. It plays right into my SAD.
   "How about golf or tennis," she suggested, desperate to find a way to get rid of me. "Why don't you set up a game?"
   I looked outside. It was raining. I looked at her. She probably thought about saying it wasn't going to rain forever but sensed the futility of trying to cheer me up. She sheepishly left the room before she could catch my disease.
   One more week, I thought. December 21st was right around the corner. So what if it's the official start of Winter. The days will get longer each day, and just like in years past, I will rejoice. Until then, I planned on milking my disease for everything it was worth.
    When my wife asked if I wanted to accompany her to a dinner party with some of her old college chums, I told her I had SAD and wouldn't be able to attend. It worked beautifully.
   When I got a little cranky with some friends during a political discussion, I blamed SAD. When I snapped at another friend over some stupid remark he made, I explained it by noting I had diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder.
   "No kidding," he exulted. "I have it, too."
   Finally, someone who understands the torment I've been going through. I'd had just about enough of my wife's Sunnybrook Farm attitude. I wanted to be around other disease-ridden SAD sufferers.
   "This time of year is just awful," said my friend. "I absolutely hate it."
   We were bonding. "I hate it, too," I hissed.
   "There's nothing you can do about it except wait it out," he added.
    Naturally, I was suspicious. He could be a fraud, so I challenged him. "I read that SAD sufferers can sit under a bright light for 30 minutes a day and that sometimes helps."
   He looked at me just the way I wanted him to. "That's the stupidest thing I ever heard," he replied.
   He passed my test. He was in the club. We shook hands and vowed to be cranky until at least December 21st. We'd do what we want, say what we want, and eat and drink what we want until then. No one would dare challenge us, because we had Seasonal Affective Disorder and it was incurable until the days started getting longer.
   "I hate you," he said as he was leaving to go home to his cheery wife.
  It was 4:45 p.m. I watched as my fellow sufferer walked into the cold, dark night. "I hate you , too," I whispered.
 

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