Preventative Affinities

I was at the library, checking out a book on hygiene for elephants when the librarian said, “According to our records, you owe the library $1,254.00 in late fees.”

I said, “Wow, really? For what?”

The librarian looked at my computer record and said, “For The Diaries of Samuel Pepys, Volumes 1-30. You checked them out eleven years ago.”

I thought about it. I couldn’t remember checking these books out. The librarian said I would have to prove my innocence to get out of paying the fines.

I went back home and looked in all my closets, my garage, under my bed, in the shack behind my house, in my attic, the wine cellar, and the garret. There were no diaries to be found. But then I remembered the barn. I used to go everyday and sit in the hayloft and read. But then I developed hay fever and my doctor said I had to stop. I put on a face mask and ventured into the barn.

I looked around the hay and saw nothing. I got out the pitchfork and searched in the haystack. There in the midst of the straw were the thirty volumes of the Diaries of Samuel Pepys. And then it all came back to me:

I remember reading that in 1666 Pepys decided to chew tobacco as a prevention for the plague. I felt a kindred spirit because when I was in Kindergarten, I would chew pencil leads to keep from getting the constant colds that were readily passed around by my fellow students. I never got a cold. But I did miss a month of school due to lead poisoning.

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