Posts Tagged ‘Mark W. Mayfield’

SURVIVING CHILDBIRTH: A FATHER’S GUIDE

Within a few weeks, my daughter, Dominique, will give birth to my first grandchild. In honor of this historic (and eagerly anticipated) event, I’m reposting this cautionary column about the horrors of witnessing childbirth, which I wrote in 1987, two years after Dominique was born. It first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and the Atlantic City Press in 1988, and was later reprinted in several other publications between 1988 and 2000.

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© 1987 Mark W. Mayfield

Childbirth is a beautiful, natural, miraculous event–unless you have to watch it. It then becomes a hideous spectacle that can cause permanent psychological scars. Watching his child enter the world is supposed to transform a red-blooded American manly man into a gentle, loving, devoted “daddy” who enjoys sipping decaffeinated coffee while swapping touching childbirth stories with other such men. But recent studies suggest that the opposite is true. After the experience, most men never want to look at their kids again. Unloved and neglected, these children grow up to be thieves, TV weathermen and politicians, thereby contributing to the moral decay of our society. Nevertheless, a growing number of gullible men are voluntarily participating in an activity that could lead to the total collapse of Western civilization.

It all begins innocently enough. Several months before her “due date,” your wife will ask you to accompany her to childbirth classes, in which a sadistic instructor will gleefully use graphic illustrations of a transparent pregnant woman to explain the various baby-making organs, including the uvula, the aviaries, the philodendron tubes and the surtax. During these classes, your wife will learn how to push and grunt. These are very important skills. Without pushing and grunting, your baby would have no reason to leave the comfort and security of the womb. It would stay inside mom for 15 or 16 years, or until it’s ready to start dating. When a woman in labor pushes and grunts, her body is saying, “Okay, kid, the free ride’s over! Get out here RIGHT NOW! I want my flat stomach back!”

Since there’s no guarantee that your wife will have a “normal” delivery, the instructor will make you watch a film about cesarean deliveries. Medically defined, a cesarean delivery is what occurs when an obstetrician realizes that he’s late for his golf game. The film makes “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” look like a Disney cartoon. Remember to close your eyes when the cheerful narrator says, “In many ways, a cesarean delivery is just like skinning a rabbit.” Other films in the course include “Changing a Diaper Without Losing Your Lunch” and “Making Inexpensive Baby Food with Spam and Lawn Clippings.”

Unfortunately, all the childbirth classes in the world won’t prepare you for the unspeakable horrors of (dramatic pause) the delivery room.

Shortly after you arrive at the hospital on “The Big Day,” (“The Big Day” occurs when your wife suddenly begins to experience automatic abdominal spasms called “contraptions”), a nurse who seems to be very attentive will promise to frequently check mommy’s condition. Take a very good look at this woman, because after she leaves the room, you’ll never see her again. She’ll sneak away to a secret nurse hide-out where she’ll guzzle huge plastic bottles of diet soda and read sleazy supermarket tabloids for the rest of her shift.

Meanwhile, the frequency and intensity of the contraptions will increase. This is when things begin to get ugly. As your wife strenuously attempts to evict her reluctant little tenant, the room will reverberate with hysterical screaming, uncontrollable sobbing and desperate cries for help, all of which will come from you. The patient, however, will feel no pain. Her body will contain more mind-altering drugs than that wild Doobie Brothers concert you enjoyed in 1977. But don’t worry, because these mind-altering drugs are expertly administered by a professional anesthesiologist who knows how to safely make a woman think she’s having her hair done when she’s actually having a baby. (Before a person can become a certified anesthesiologist, he must demonstrate his skills by successfully tranquilizing two fast-talking insurance salesmen and an excited sports announcer.)

The best thing you can do during this stage is to keep yourself occupied. Read a good book, whistle a catchy tune or eat a bologna sandwich. No, on second thought, don’t eat a bologna sandwich. Some men occupy themselves by videotaping the delivery. (Most of those men later destroy the tape without watching it.)

Several minutes later, somebody will say, “A few more pushes and grunts should do the trick.” At that point, you’ll hear something that reminds you of that squishy sound that rubber boots make in sticky mud. The doctor will then hold up an alien-like creature that is indescribably repulsive and unexplainably beautiful at the same time, but you won’t see it because you’ll be unconscious.

Mark Mayfield has survived two cesarean deliveries. His wife was by his side during both ordeals.

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A WASHBOARD STOMACH FOR $9.99? ABS-OLUTELY NOT!

Back in 2001, before I decided to devote the rest of my life to the relentless pursuit of physical perfection, I wrote this column about a torturous device called the Ab Wheel.
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© 2001 Mark Mayfield

Whenever a new fitness craze sweeps the nation, one brave man (me) provides a clarion voice of caution. Several years ago, when everybody else was frantically exercising to achieve “Buns of Steel,” I bravely retained my “Buns of Cookie Dough.” I bravely denounced steel buns because of their possible consequences (scratched church pews, broken theater seats, etc.). When everybody else decided to firm up flabby legs, I bravely expressed doubt about the effectiveness of a popular exercise device called the Thighmaster. (I also bravely admitted that I enjoyed watching attractive women in tight leotards demonstrate the Thighmaster on television.) And when everybody else was buying a video about “Tae Bo,” I bravely asked this important question: “Where is my Tae Bo muscle located?”

My suspicion of fitness fads started during my early teens, when I wasted several months of my hard-earned allowance on a spring-loaded chest-building contraption. After the dangerous device malfunctioned during my first workout, fatally pinching my puny pectorals, I vowed to be more careful when purchasing exercise gadgets. But even a clarion voice of caution occasionally discovers a product he just can’t resist. That’s why I recently purchased an Ab Wheel, an inexpensive exercise device that supposedly produces tight, well-defined, rock-hard, washboard-like abs, a.k.a. “abominables.” (I can live with my Buns of Cookie Dough, but I’ve always hated my Abs of Vanilla Pudding.) This simple invention, which is nothing more than a small plastic wheel impaled by a straight handlebar, comes with a handy chart that helps novice exercisers find the exact location of their abs, which are just south of their underdeveloped pecs and a little north of their Tae Bo muscles.

Using the Ab Wheel isn’t complicated. You simply “kneel on the floor, grip the handle with both hands, roll as far forward as comfortable, gradually return to the starting position, and repeat.” According to the instructions, beginners should not perform more than one set of eight repetitions within a 48-hour period. But since I wanted tight, well-defined, rock-hard, washboard-like abs before dinnertime, I intended to perform fifty sets of eighty repetitions within a one-hour period.

The first repetition triggered a painfully violent temblor that was centered deep beneath my stomach’s tranquil surface, way down in the ancient molten core of corndogs and chocolate cake I consumed between the 4th and 6th grades. As the shock-wave continued its upward journey, it traveled through gigantic shifting plates of my grandma’s famous Christmas fudge, through massive primordial deposits of Halloween candy and homemade ice cream, and, finally, through the unstable mantle of pepperoni pizza and deep-fried cheese sticks that formed during my body’s chaotic post-pubescent era.

During the second repetition, the intense pain was accompanied by many alarming sounds, including one that frequently occurs in cartoons, when a broken spring pops out of an old couch. As I bravely performed the third repetition, I suddenly experienced brain numbness, shortness of breath, mental confusion, and a comforting vision of a beautiful angel who invited me into heaven. At that point, I quickly canceled plans for a fourth repetition.

After catching my breath and regaining my ability to speak, I summoned my wife for an unbiased opinion of my new physique. (I also desperately needed her assistance because I didn’t have enough strength to stand up.)

“Do my abs look tight, rock-hard and well-defined?” I asked hopefully.

“I guess so,” she said, trying to suppress a loud laugh.

“Would you say they resemble a washboard?” I inquired.

“Oh, definitely,” she replied. “In fact, I thought you had glued a washboard to your stomach.”

“Would you say that the sight of my tight, rock-hard, well-defined, washboard-like abs is causing you to experience uncontrollable feelings of marital lust?

(This is when my wife’s attempt to suppress a loud laugh failed miserably.)

In summary, I can honestly say that the Ab Wheel produced noticeable changes in my midsection, including a weird protrusion that may be the beginning of a washboard OR a hernia-related problem that requires medical attention. I’m a little worried about it.

Mark W. Mayfield is now toning and sculpting his flabby Tae Bo muscle.

My other sites:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarkMayfield

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Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MarkMayfield

Posterous: http://ReclaimedWoodCreations.posterous.com 

A FRIEND FOR MR. WHISKERS (A LONELY MUSTACHE NEEDS SOME COMPANY)

© 2001 Mark W. Mayfield

I’m getting that urge again, the irresistible urge to decorate the front of my head with unnecessary facial hair. I’m longing for that itchy feeling of stubble on my chin. I’m yearning for something that will set me apart from the millions of boring, clean-shaven men who march through life in lock step, never knowing the simple pleasures of a furry face.

These urges aren’t uncommon for me. In fact, I’ve been experimenting with facial hair for almost three decades. When I was fifteen, I grew my first mustache, a pitiful little thing that had a grand total of eight hairs. I shaved it off after a cruel sophomore girl told me that SHE could grow a better mustache than mine. (She was right.) Two years later, after Mother Nature had lowered my voice and raised my quota of hair follicles, I grew my current thick, manly mustache, which I affectionately call “Mr. Whiskers.”

Mr. Whiskers is one patch of unnecessary facial hair that will always occupy a special place on my face. I could never part with such a faithful friend, a friend who stood by me through many tough times. Together, we barely survived a terrible accident in 1984, when I inadvertently shaved off almost half of Mr. Whiskers’ right side. I tried to disguise the damage by shaving off half of his left side, but the result made me look like Adolph Hitler. I didn’t go out in public for three weeks. (Important tip for guys with mustaches: NEVER trim your own Mr. Whiskers immediately after consuming six large mugs of strong coffee. Shaky hands and electric razors are a volatile mixture.) In the summer of 1990, Mr. Whiskers was severely singed at a backyard barbecue, when a careless chef (me) squirted highly flammable lighter fluid on red-hot coals. My poor mustache was instantly reduced to a smoldering clump of stinky, curly nubs. I almost lost him. (Also injured in that tragic mishap were Mr. & Mrs. Eyebrow and hundreds of innocent arm hairs.)

Mr. Whiskers has had plenty of interesting company through the years. When I was 21, just months before I got married, I grew a pair of “Mutton Chop” sideburns that were wider than a four-lane freeway. They were very attractive at the time, but these days, I can’t look at our wedding pictures without screaming, “WHAT WAS I THINKING?!”

Several years later, I grew a full beard because I realized that life is too short to shave every day. A beard, I thought, would require only occasional trimming for special holidays and perhaps an annual cleaning with a rake and leaf blower. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that I belong to a small group of men who were born with whisker glands directly below the outside corners of our eyes. If I don’t shave that area regularly, I begin to resemble a psychotic caveman. As my beard grew longer, I encountered another unexpected problem: When I woke up in the morning, the beard, like my hair, was pointing in several different directions. It always took several minutes to rearrange it. After six months, I shaved it off, and it hasn’t been back.

Now I’m on the verge of growing a goatee, which is quite different from a cowtee, a horsetee and a pigtee. This wouldn’t be the first time. A few years ago, I grew my first goatee, and reactions from my family were mixed. My daughter said it was “cool.” My wife said it made me look older. My son said it made me look like a “really mean guy.” A friend said, “Hey, Satan, how’s everything in the flaming abyss of eternal damnation?” I eventually shaved it off because small children screamed when they saw me.

But now I don’t care about small children or my smart-aleck friend. I care only about my new acquaintance, Mr. Receding Hairline, who’s been frantically telling me that I must immediately grow a goatee to divert attention from the top of my forehead. Unless something drastic happens to change my mind, this column will soon be written by a guy who looks “really mean.” Please warn your small children.

EPILOGUE: Soon after writing this column, I gave my face a brand new goatee. Nine years later, the goatee is still there, but, for some strange reason, it’s more gray than it used to be.

My other sites:

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MarkMayfield

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Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MarkMayfield

Posterous: http://ReclaimedWoodCreations.posterous.com

THE DEBUT OF MARK’S BOOK CLUB

Almost 10 years ago, I launched Mark’s Book Club. In my first installment, I reviewed “The Testament” by then unknown author John Grisham. He’s not unknown anymore because Mark’s Book Club made him a household name.
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© February 2000 Mark W. Mayfield

Hoping to duplicate the phenomenal success of Oprah’s Book Club, I proudly present the debut of Mark’s Book Club, which is dedicated to promoting literacy in America and collecting generous kickbacks from grateful authors who become rich after my glowing reviews.

When choosing a book for review, Mark’s Book Club uses the following guidelines:

1. Books written by doctors, mathematicians, astronomers, geologists, geneticists, nuclear physicists and paleontologists are disqualified. MBC believes that such books contain very big words that are hard to pronounce and understand. Big words frustrate average Americans and cause feelings of vicissitudinary inefficaciousness, tegumental disambiguation and quadrilateral recanalization, all of which are invidiously garnetiferous.

2. Mark’s Book Club will not review any book that isn’t available in an inexpensive paperback version at a popular wholesale warehouse that stocks everything from vitamins to vending machines. Furthermore, the book must be displayed within 23 feet of the friendly lady who hands out samples of microwaveable stuffed-crust pizza.

3. Any book featuring a provocatively attired seductress on its cover will receive special attention from Mark’s Book Club, unless Mark’s Book Club’s wife suddenly appears from behind the lawn tractor display, in which case he will emit a convincing sigh of disgust, audibly bemoan the abundance of indecency in modern literature, and toss the book aside with a practiced hand gesture that simultaneously expresses revulsion and outrage. If Mark’s Book Club later notices a new religious novel entitled “Satan Loves Hypocrites,” he will become visibly nervous and deeply regret his interest in the book featuring a provocatively attired seductress on its cover. He will then silently vow to atone for his transgressions by giving a glowing review to that really old Book that people read in church. He will even waive the generous kickback.

Today’s glowing review goes to “The Testament” by unknown author John Grisham. Mr. Grisham is probably a poor, struggling writer living meagerly in a dilapidated house trailer, but Mark’s Book Club is about to rescue him from the ravages of poverty. In fact, the soon-to-be wealthy recipient of the following glowing review should start shopping around for fancy cars, expensive clothes, private jets and a bigger house trailer. He should then send a generous kickback to Mark’s Book Club.

If MBC could use only three words to describe this book, they would be “riveting,” “suspenseful” and “litigious.” If we could use three more words, they would be “rectangular,” “thick” and “paperback.” And if we couldn’t use any words at all, we would enthusiastically grunt while choking on a large sample of stuffed-crust pizza.

In The Testament, a thick, rectangular paperback, Grisham expertly weaves a riveting, suspenseful, litigious tale about the earth’s most terrifying creatures: greedy lawyers. The fun begins when an eccentric billionaire shafts his three ex-wives and six worthless kids by leaving his vast fortune to an illegitimate daughter who is a missionary in Brazil. A lawyer named Nate, who has just successfully completed several grueling months in a fashionable detox facility and is confidently looking forward to a happy, productive life of sobriety, travels to the Brazilian jungle to find the lucky heir, who has no idea that she is a Brazillionaire. At the beginning of his quest, naughty Nate discovers that Brazil has some pretty good beer.

Dangerous jungle reptiles don’t bother Nate because they realize he’s an accomplished attorney who wouldn’t hesitate to slap them with a hefty personal injury lawsuit. However, dangerous disease-carrying mosquitoes, whose small size and identical facial features allow them to avoid arrest and prosecution, are NOT afraid of accomplished attorneys. One of these heartless, blood-sucking monsters, often called “nature’s little IRS agents,” maliciously bites Nate, who soon experiences profuse sweating, high fever, chills, severe muscle cramps and bizarre hallucinations. Coincidentally, Mark’s Book Club is also feeling really icky. In fact, we think we’re gonna . . .

Hi. I’m the friendly lady who hands out tasty samples of convenient microwaveable food at a popular wholesale warehouse. A pale guy with pizza sauce in his mustache asked me to tell you that an unexpected problem prevented Mark’s Book Club from reading the rest of The Testament. Mark’s Book Club apparently ate WAY too much stuffed-crust pizza and needed to go home.

Mark W. Mayfield is still waiting for a generous kickback from John Grisham.

My YouTube channel: http://www.YouTube.com/MollyMayfield

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I APOLOGIZE FOR SEDATION DENTISTY

Many years ago, during my wild youth, I did something that changed the course of human history (and not in a good way). I invented “sedation dentistry.” After years of living with unbearable guilt, I wrote this column in 2002 to publicly apologize for my horrible crime against humanity. ###############################

© November 2002 Mark W. Mayfield

I recently heard a radio commercial for “sedation dentistry,” a new treatment for people who suffer from dental phobia (a.k.a. “the fear of a sadistic man in a white smock who forcibly invades your mouth with syringes, razor-sharp dental implements, and little buzzing power tools while you uncontrollably drool on a paper bib”). This is not a joke. A growing number of dentists are encouraging fearful patients to “swallow a small pill, fall asleep under a warm blanket and then dream away the hours” while all of their dental work is done in a single visit. In other words, sedation dentistry allows you to be completely unconscious while you uncontrollably drool on a paper bib.

This latest attempt to take the pain out of everyday life really bothers me. I truly believe that if we allow this trend to continue, unnecessary sedation will eventually infiltrate other areas of our lives. Imagine these terrifying possibilities:

“Sedation Commuting” for people who fear rush hour traffic. (Mere words can’t describe the chaos that would be created by millions of heavily sedated drivers who uncontrollably drool on their steering wheels.)

“Sedation Manicures” for women who fear the sound of an emery board against their fingernails.

“Sedation Parenting” for parents who fear their children’s teenage years. (When your daughter turns 13, just swallow a small pill, fall asleep under a warm blanket and blissfully dream away the years until she’s a well-behaved 28-year-old mother of two who’s married to a brain surgeon.)

“Sedation Trepidation” for columnists who fear that sedation will eventually infiltrate other areas of our lives. Chronic worriers could swallow a small pill, fall asleep under a warm blanket, and dream away the years until unnecessary sedation has been erased from the face of the earth.

I was not always an outspoken opponent of sedation. In fact, my guilty conscience forces me to make this startling confession: I am partly responsible for sedation dentistry. I used sedation to counter the fears and anxiety of everyday life long before dentists with warm blankets got into the act. A concerned colleague and I began experimenting with primitive sedation techniques back in the early 1970’s. During the following years, we bravely used ourselves as long-haired guinea pigs to discover new ways to help future generations of mistreated teenagers cope with the inevitable pain, persecution and oppression inflicted by future generations of cruel parents. Our only goal was to make sure that future generations of mistreated teenagers would never experience the pain, persecution and oppression that occurs when cruel parents open a high school progress report that includes two D’s and four F’s.

Despite numerous warnings and threats from teachers, law enforcement officials and the aforementioned cruel parents, we stubbornly continued our misguided experiments in sedation, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, when I bravely called my fellow researcher and said, “Hey, man, you wanna go out and get sedated tonight?” (Translation: “Are you prepared to bravely continue our risky experiments for the sake of future mistreated teenagers?”)

My fellow researcher then replied, “Yeah, man, let’s get so stinkin’ sedated that we can’t remember our middle names!” (Translation: “Yes, the risks of our noble quest pale in comparison to the possible benefits for the youth of tomorrow.”)

Sedation’s incredible painkilling power was undeniable. It made painfully huge pimples on our noses seem small and insignificant. It made painfully stale cupcakes taste delicious. (In fact, they tasted so delicious that I often ate a dozen at a time.) It made painfully ugly girls look like Marcia Brady. Sedation even enabled us to endure the severe eardrum pain that occurred when we sat right next to gigantic stage speakers at a rock concert in 1974. Our experiments were difficult and dangerous, but we were sure that future mistreated teenagers would appreciate our sacrifices. Our intentions were honorable, but, as the old saying goes, “The road to hell is paved by sedated teenagers with good intentions.”

Now, decades later, I’m here to proclaim that self-sedation is a dead-end street. I now realize that some types of pain, including the unbearable pain of a root canal, and the incredible mental pain inflicted by cruel parents, can make us stronger. I also realize that eating a dozen stale cupcakes and sitting right next to gigantic stage speakers at a rock concert are stupid things to do.

In closing today’s column, I want to sincerely apologize for my role in unleashing sedation dentistry against humanity. I wish I could just swallow a small pill, fall asleep under a warm blanket and forget it ever happened.

Mark Mayfield believes that dentists who offer unnecessary sedation should be ashamed of themselves.

My YouTube channel: http://www.YouTube.com/MollyMayfield

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SURVIVING CHILDBIRTH: A FATHER’S GUIDE

I wrote this cautionary column about the horrors of childbirth WAY back in 1987, two years after my daughter was born. It first appeared in the San Jose Mercury News and the Atlantic City Press in 1988, and was published in several other publications between 1988 and 2000.

Interesting note: Despite the horrific way she began her life, my daughter in now a happy, healthy, normal 24-year old. (Okay, maybe “normal” is a bit of stretch.)

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© 1987 Mark W. Mayfield

Childbirth is a beautiful, natural, miraculous event–unless you have to watch it. It then becomes a hideous spectacle that can cause permanent psychological scars. Watching his child enter the world is supposed to transform a red-blooded American manly man into a gentle, loving, devoted “daddy” who enjoys sipping decaffeinated coffee while swapping touching childbirth stories with other such men. But recent studies suggest that the opposite is true. After the experience, most men never want to look at their kids again. Unloved and neglected, these children grow up to be thieves, TV weathermen and members of congress, thereby contributing to the moral decay of our society. Nevertheless, a growing number of gullible men are voluntarily participating in an activity that could lead to the total collapse of Western civilization.

It all begins innocently enough. Several months before her “due date,” your wife will ask you to accompany her to childbirth classes, in which a sadistic instructor will gleefully use graphic illustrations of a transparent pregnant woman to explain the various baby-making organs, including the uvula, the aviaries, the philodendron tubes and the surtax. During these classes, your wife will learn how to push and grunt. These are very important skills. Without pushing and grunting, your baby would have no reason to leave the comfort and security of the womb. It would stay inside mom for 15 or 16 years, or until it’s ready to start dating. When a woman in labor pushes and grunts, her body is saying, “Okay, kid, the free ride’s over! Get out here RIGHT NOW! I want my flat stomach back!”

Since there’s no guarantee that your wife will have a “normal” delivery, the instructor will make you watch a film about cesarean deliveries. Medically defined, a cesarean delivery is what occurs when an obstetrician realizes that he’s late for his golf game. The film makes “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre” look like a Disney cartoon. Remember to close your eyes when the cheerful narrator says, “In many ways, a cesarean delivery is just like skinning a rabbit.” Other films in the course include “Changing a Diaper Without Losing Your Lunch” and “Making Inexpensive Baby Food with Spam, Yogurt and Lawn Clippings.”

Unfortunately, all the childbirth classes in the world won’t prepare you for the unspeakable horrors of (dramatic pause) the delivery room.

Shortly after you arrive at the hospital on “The Big Day,” (“The Big Day” occurs when your wife suddenly begins to experience automatic abdominal spasms called “contraptions”), a nurse who seems to be very attentive will promise to frequently check mommy’s condition. Take a very good look at this woman, because after she leaves the room, you’ll never see her again. She’ll sneak away to a secret nurse hide-out where she’ll guzzle huge plastic bottles of diet soda and read sleazy supermarket tabloids for the rest of her shift.

Meanwhile, the frequency and intensity of the contraptions will increase. This is when things begin to get ugly. As your wife strenuously attempts to evict her reluctant little tenant, the room will reverberate with hysterical screaming, uncontrollable sobbing and desperate cries for help, all of which will come from you. The patient, however, will feel no pain. Her body will contain more mind-altering drugs than that wild Doobie Brothers concert you enjoyed in 1977. But don’t worry, because these mind-altering drugs are expertly administered by a professional anesthesiologist who knows how to safely make a woman think she’s having her hair done when she’s actually having a baby. (Before a person can become a certified anesthesiologist, he must demonstrate his skills by successfully tranquilizing two fast-talking insurance salesmen and an excited sports announcer.)

The best thing you can do during this stage is to keep yourself occupied. Read a good book, whistle a catchy tune or eat a bologna sandwich. No, on second thought, don’t eat a bologna sandwich. Some men occupy themselves by videotaping the delivery. (Most of those men later destroy the tape without watching it.)

Several minutes later, somebody will say, “A few more pushes and grunts should do the trick.” At that point, you’ll hear something that reminds you of that squishy sound that rubber boots make in sticky mud. The doctor will then hold up an alien-like creature that is indescribably repulsive and unexplainably beautiful at the same time, but you won’t see it because you’ll be unconscious.

Mark Mayfield has survived TWO cesarean deliveries. His wife was by his side during both ordeals.

My YouTube channel: http://www.YouTube.com/MollyMayfield

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HOW TO WRITE A BEST-SELLING HORROR NOVEL

This is one of my all-time favorite pieces. First published in 1992, it appeared in the Oregonian, the Cleveland Plain Dealer Sunday Magazine, the Seattle Times, the Milwaukee Journal, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Fresno Bee and others.
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© 1992 Mark W. Mayfield

Can you name the exciting, lucrative career that shamelessly exploits mankind’s deepest, darkest fears? Okay, “dentistry” is a good guess, but the correct answer is “writing scary stories.” Top horror authors earn big bucks simply by writing about the most gruesome, repulsive acts of carnage they can imagine. Consider the phenomenal success of Stephen King, a deeply disturbed, incredibly wealthy man who creates spine-tingling tales that many people read while wearing plastic-lined undergarments–if you get my drift. According to financial experts, King’s monthly income exceeds ninety bazillion dollars, enough to purchase a year’s supply of plastic-lined undergarments for every man, woman and child in the world.

By now you’re probably asking, “Can I really make lots of money by simply writing stories that induce temporary incontinence?” Yes, you can, but you must first master these four time-tested writing techniques that seldom fail to terrify readers.

Technique 1

After every graphic description of mayhem, write a short, simple sentence that has no apparent connection with the preceding text:

“Toby was too simple to understand the evil force that made him mutilate Stacy with an electric vegetable peeler, but he did understand that her still-quivering gondola gland was making squishy, squirty, sucking noises, like rubber boots in sticky mud. For some odd reason, he suddenly became hungry for raw oysters and warm mayonnaise. Somewhere, very far away, birds began to sing.”

Obviously, singing birds have nothing in common with muddy rubber boots or quivering gondola glands, but the sheer incongruity of the last sentence lends extra eeriness to this bizarre murder.

Technique 2

When the reader least expects it, inexplicably kill a prominent character:

“Bob’s life had never been better. He recently won the richest lottery in history, married the world’s most beautiful lingerie model, discovered cures for every disease known to man, single-handedly engineered a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East, and made his seventh appearance on the cover of People Magazine. Now, at the tender age of 21, Bob was about to receive the coveted “Most Valuable Human” award. Limping slightly from the injury he suffered while rescuing a blind, crippled kitten from an oncoming train, he approached the podium to make his acceptance speech. The President of the United States and several foreign dignitaries led the adoring audience in a thunderous standing ovation. Suddenly, without warning, Bob’s gondola gland exploded, showering stunned onlookers, including Bob’s frail grandmother, with a million tiny pieces of Bob-meat. Somewhere, very far away, birds began to sing.”

Technique 3

Include at least one episode of gratuitous sex in every chapter:

“The putrid stench of rotting corpses permeated the pitch-black cave. Pete and Sue knew they were trapped, and they also knew that whatever lived in this hideous lair was VERY close, VERY big and VERY hungry. There was only one logical thing to do: They got naked.”

Technique 4

When writing the end of your novel, leave the door open for a best-selling sequel:

“The ghastly phlegm-like creature was finally still and silent. Vicky had shot it with poison-tipped bullets, repeatedly stabbed it with rusty pruning shears, incinerated it with a blowtorch, carved it up with a chain saw, made it slip on a banana peel, and called it some really rude names. Now she sat on the bloody, slimy linoleum and desperately tried to fathom the events of the last two hours. She didn’t know why Bob and Stacy were dead, why Pete and Sue were naked AND dead, why Toby suddenly acquired a taste for raw oysters, or why mom’s electric vegetable peeler was missing. And, perhaps worst of all, Vicky didn’t know why her gondola gland was swollen. As her confused mind wrestled with those questions, the vile mucus monster, which was not quite dead after all, slowly slithered into the dank basement. Somewhere, very far away, birds began to sing.”

Mark Mayfield is working on his first best-selling horror novel, Giant Carnivorous Phlegm-Like Creatures from the Abyss.

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