Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

"If you do not take an interest in the affairs of your government, then you are doomed to live under the rule of fools."

– Plato


Saturday, March 27, 2010

One Infamous Fig

Mark Twain said that the source of all humor is sorrow. But sometimes humor is just the manifestation of a twisted mind. And sometimes it’s just fun.

It was my first day home after a prostatectomy (surgical removal of the prostate gland). I only spent one night in the hospital and I was home. I felt great. The surgeon used a technique that was new at that time called, the DaVinci Surgical System. It’s less invasive and can avoid damaging nerves. Anyway, my kids and grandkids came over to see me and have a barbeque.

They were all surprised at how spry and unaffected I was. I tried to explain that the operation was a snap and the whole thing was no big deal. In fact, I said, “The medical lab gave me permission to take my prostate home to show my family.”

Only my wife knew that one of my neighbors had brought over a bowl of fruit the night before, which included one lonely fig. When I saw the fig, my twisted mind conjured up a bizarre scenario. I put the fig in a jar with water and some red cranberry juice and put it in the refrigerator.

Back to the barbeque…In the course of describing the hospital scene I asked the kids if they had ever seen a real prostate gland. The response was exactly as one would expect. “Da-ad…” and “Gross!” I tried to reassure them that it was just a part of the human body – nothing to be afraid of and with great enthusiasm, I clambered up the steps and into the house, returning with a small jar. Floating ominously in the pink water was the fig. Even thought I knew it was only a fig, it actually looked gross to me too.

The gasps from my daughters, the amazed look on my son-in-law and the huge eyes of my grandson upon seeing their first prostate gland is imprinted indelibly on my mind. Both daughters gasped in unison, “Eeeuuuu!” To assuage their repulsion, I explained that it was harmless. “Look. It’s just a gland. It can’t hurt you.”

To prove my point I unscrewed the cap, lifted the dripping fig from the jar and held it up for the world to see. They backed away, bumping into deck furniture, as though I might toss it on them. I again reassured them that it was harmless and to prove my point, I took a huge bite out of it. It was tough to keep a straight face as I chewed while watching my family scream and scatter. My adult daughters should know me by now, for Pete’s sake. I’ve been goofing around since the day I brought them home from the hospital. Maybe they thought the lobotomy would cure me.

To this day I’m not sure that was the right thing for a grandfather to do, because that initial shock left permanent scars. My eldest daughter is now anorexic and my youngest daughter refuses to eat fruit. My son-in-law has developed a facial tic that occurs whenever he sees a medical commercial on TV and my grandson should finish his therapy session sometime this summer. He wants to be either a surgeon or a butcher when he grows up. He seems to have an insatiable appetite for figs in ketchup.

(Disclaimer – While the story is actually true, that final paragraph is not true. Everyone is fine. They weren’t really that surprised. It turns out they actually know me too well. I don’t think I fooled any of them. Doggone it! )


  1. Ralph, only you could make the Prostate entertainment. (And horror based on this tale.)


  2. Malcolm - Gayle didn't want me to post this one, but I couldn't resist. Fortunately no one was hurt running from the fig.

  3. Your wife was right about not starting here.

  4. Richard - You're right. The fig story has more to do with an end than a beginning.