Recently I got a call from the South Carolina Department of Heath and Environmental Control. They wanted me to do a survey about my heath and the health of my family.

Only because these statistics could come in handy to a newspaper reporter down the road, which the probably will, I complied. It had to be pretty straightforward anyway, I thought.

However, after eight grueling minutes asking me to tap into levels of my memory I hadn’t jiggled lose in years, I had had enough. No longer was I interested in helping journalism – I was interested in screwing a government agency.

It was at that time I answered “yes” to all the questions pertaining to whether or not I had sexually transmitted diseases. I only answered “no” when he asked if I’d been treated. I gave the guy an “absolutely” when he asked, after all the STD inquiries, if I engaged in unprotected sex.

The exercise section didn’t afford as much of an opportunity for drama. However, I did my best, giving as much evidence as I could that I wanted to choke one day on my own cholesterol.

Conveniently enough, at minute 12, the guy – whose tone of voice had dropped from cheery to noticeably dismal since the “have you been sick in the last 69 days” kind of questions that kicked off the survey – brought on the mental health section. Several times he had to remind me these were only “yes” or “no” questions; For instance, he didn’t want to know how I’d planned to kill myself – just whether or not I’d contemplated it. He also had little interest in my statement that I refuse to talk to Asian people.

By the time he got to the seafood section – yes, apparently it’s very important for DHEC to know if you eat fish – it was no longer a fun game. I asked him to hold on a second, pooped, and returned to the phone. There was just a dial tone.

I do wonder to this day if my answers counted toward the state’s overall health score. I also wonder if there’s a person in the Palmetto State willing to go through with a phone survey at 8 p.m. on a weekday that lasts at least 16 minutes.

If there is, I think that says plenty about how healthy South Carolina is.

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