Big Daddy

Ask Big Daddy

Dear Big Daddy,

I went to exercise therapy, and the operator of the clinic recommended that I take this therapy. I went there and I had to walk sideways into a telephone booth. I said what the hell did I do here? I did not know this woman did not have any license. You talk about the spread of AIDS and body fluids and body parts. It’s kind of a dangerous exercise without any regulation.    

—Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally 

Dear Congressman,

In California, the phrase “I’ll regulate your ass” is not an idle threat. Yet last week our state legislators turned down an opportunity to do just that. If I were a Republican, I’d be touting this as a victory.

Heck, it’s a twofer if you don’t like unions. The striking writers are going to be in trouble if this keeps up and all people have to do for televised entertainment is head over to Cal Channel and check out our legislative committee hearings. Reality shows may be getting (getting?) pretty boring and predictable, but the same can certainly not be said about much of what happens when just a few lobbyists are watching around here.

In case you still have no idea what the Assemblyman and I talking about, check out last week’s Assembly Business and Professions meeting. In it you’ll find a former military pilot talking about how he trained his bowels so well for long missions that they started deploying just once a week (now I know why the Great Santini was so grumpy all the time). You’ll get to watch two sets of power-hungry rivals, the doctors and the chiropractors, toss this one back and forth like a hot, er, potato.

And you’ll get to see the Assemblyman talking from experience about the need for regulating the practice of colon hydrotherapy. Colon what, you say? Let’s put it this way: If you compare an enema to, say, the perky two minutes of “Fun, Fun, Fun,” then colon hydrotherapy is “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.” Even the guitar riffs sound about right.

To hold political office these days is to have your life laid bare, from your family trauma and bad decisions of your youth to every medical procedure under where the sun doesn’t shine. We live in a time when regular people go on national television and gleefully admit they’ve slept with their in-laws or like to stuff a sock in their underwear before hitting the bars.

But that’s not Dymally’s generation, and he didn’t do this for any voyeuristic thrill. I seriously admire him for coming forward with this. He saw a problem, from his own experience, and took steps to rectify the situation even though could cause him some embarrassment. That takes guts. Heck, I don’t think I’d have been brave enough to try this treatment even if I were dammed up worse than a river running through a Republican district.

In fact, I’m guessing it may have taken him a while to decide to write this bill. I mean, who uses a phone booth anymore? It’s not quite the same as him saying Bananarama was playing on the radio or he had just gotten a pet rock, but that does seem to date it a little bit. And it’s kind of amazing how well this little exchange encapsulates how politics has changed since Dymally and I roamed these halls together. Back then, most of the same shenanigans and questionable medical procedures were going on behind closed doors, but we sure didn’t talk about them.

These days, we’ll not only talk about this stuff, at length and on television, but Assemblyman Mike Eng will then turn around and assign some poor consultant the task of doing a study! And if I were that person, I can’t say I’d even know where to start. Certainly not with a sting operation. I don’t know who this analyst might be, but I’m guessing someone was watching that hearing with a sense of impending doom when it became more and more clear they weren’t going to, uh, pass this thing easily.

And with that, I’ll sign off by saying that sometimes writing this column is like shooting fish in a barrel. And I don’t mean that as a euphemism for, uh, yeah, I’m just gonna stop now.

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