Author--Larry Webb

Short Stories
Oh, No!
Larry Webb

We all know Washington’s a mess, but this time they’ve gone too far. When I turned on the TV this morning, breaking news flooded the airways. The stammering, red-face reporter blurted that Congress had voted on a secret ballot about three a.m., and for the first time, in probably forever, the results had been unanimous. Congress and the President had gotten together and banned chocolate—effective immediately. Can you believe it?

Not only that, but all marketing agencies had been notified in advance, so every piece of chocolate had been pulled from the shelves. Our government geniuses knew the ban would cause a run on all grocery stores, gas stations, convenience stores, etc. this morning, so they ordered retailers to strip the shelves and lock up their available supplies before dawn.

And to think, all of this happened after I had gone to a whole lot of trouble trying to convince my dubious doctor that chocolate really is healthy. My arguments to him were simple. As we all know, chocolate comes from dried and roasted cacao beans. We are also well aware that beans are a vegetable—making it attractive fodder for vegetarian patients. Besides, according to what he’s always preached, veggies are great for us. ERGO, chocolate is extremely beneficial, so we should eat as much of it as possible.

Not sure why, but when I was explaining this, he kept rolling his eyes and mumbling something under his breath about chocoholics, addiction, etc. Maybe so, but I would think, if one is going to be addicted to something, chocolate makes a whole lot more sense than any of that green garbage. Do I even need to mention spinach and kale? Yuck!

So, I went to work, and after a reasonable amount of Internet research, I found the following factoids, which are readily available in the June 1, 2016 publication of Medical News Today--MNT. Since this information was easily discovered via a Google search, its validity is assured. Checking further is not required.

MNT began its article with a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, which listed a number of the health benefits of chocolate. The first one mentioned was that chocolate helps lower cholesterol. It expounds on some medical jargon regarding low-density lipoproteins, aka LDL, or bad fats, being lowered with chocolate. As cholesterol is one of the minor little things I have dealt with for years, and the fact that I am my cardiologist’s favorite patient, I’m more than happy to eat as much chocolate as possible and keep him employed indefinitely. 

Another cool fact reported by MNT is that the Harvard Medical School discovered that chocolate may help prevent memory decline. Now, I realize that particular problem is not an issue with me, but it is with a number of seniors. (Incidentally, this topic will not be brought up as a matter of discussion with my cherubs.) Anyway, the Harvard study said that drinking two cups of hot chocolate a day would improve the blood flow to parts of the brain. Then it went on to mention something about neurovascular coupling and its role in Alzheimer’s—none of which makes any sense to me. However, we all know coupling is a good thing.

Another juicy tidbit to store in your memory bank, as you are dissolving another delicious Dove chocolate bite in your mouth, is that eating chocolate might help lower the risk of developing heart disease by one-third. The European research concluded that more studies were required. But, hey, good news is good news. Why belabor the fact? Besides, we trust all European research—regardless of its source. We know those countries do not deal in fake news.

MNT also avowed a Canadian study which showed that people who ate chocolate were 22 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who ate little or none. The document also went on to conclude that people who’d had a stroke and then regularly consumed chocolate were 46 percent less likely to die as a result. What more proof does one need?

The document wrapped up with five other benefits of chocolate which I will not belabor. Briefly, it indicated the product may benefit fetal growth and development; it may streamline cognitive functions; it can boost the performance of athletes; and daily intake of chocolate has been linked to a lower risk of heart disease and diabetes.

Naturally, there are always certain cautions and the unavoidable list of potential negative side effects. These usually are found in the less than five percent of the population category. However, they still must be included to protect themselves against lawsuits. The first of which is heartburn. Now, if that rare phenomenon occurs after eating chocolate, take two maximum strength Tums and get over it.

Another minor concern is the slim risk of weight gain and obesity, which is, in my opinion, ridiculous. However much chocolate you add to your diet, reduce an equal amount of fruits and vegetables and consider it a tradeoff.
Extremely rare is the possibility of developing kidney stones or an unhealthy source of lead ingestion in children if consumption is high. What the study does not reveal is how much is too much? Are we talking ten pounds of chocolate a day, or are we talking twenty pounds? A couple of other research documents I looked at also indicated one should consume 70% dark chocolate. Not sure I totally agree with that one or not. Do I really want that much of my daily diet to be chocolate?

The point is, one can research something to death. Once the conclusion has been drawn that chocolate is good for the heart, I say go with it. However, if you insist on continually feeding your self-inflicted paranoias, move on to something new, like the negative effects of exercise causing muscle strain and shortness of breath.

So, once again, I figured enough was enough. It was time to get involved. Our people in DC were obviously ignorant and needed to learn the facts. I pulled my phone out of its case and looked for ‘Deb’ in my contact list. Finding her, I pushed the dial button. Waiting for Senator Stabenow to answer, the alarm clock rudely awakened me. Damn!

Really Short Shorts: Book 2--Bathroom Edition is a compilation of one fifty page novelette and twenty-four short stories ranging from four to seventeen pages. The stories cover a wide variety of topics. Most of them deal with people, dysfunctional and normal, ranging from young to old. All are pure fantasy flowing from my imagination. The key for me is, if you can read the first story about a set of twins and their weird family, and not end up scratching your head with questions, I screwed up. As always, I entertained myself writing the short stories; hopefully you will be by reading them.

The subtitle, “Bathroom Edition,” comes from two sources. A close friend of mine kept Really Short Shorts: Book 1 in his bathroom for a long time, which I found amusing. Telling this story to one of my writing groups, a lady became very serious. She indicated the hardest thing to do when her mother passed was to dispose of the two short story books she’d had stashed in the bathroom for over forty years. 

Really Short Shorts: Book 1  is a compilation of forty short stories—ranging from four to six pages. There is a wide range of topics included. The majority of the stories deal with people--from little kids to seniors. Most of them involve some humor. Some are pure fantasy, while others are more serious. Keep in mind that my ultimate goal in writing is to entertain myself. If you enjoy my stories, then that's a plus. Read and enjoy.