Dear Vice President Cheney,
As a politician, you know opinions are like hearts. Everybody has one. And as a religious person you know all God's children got wings. But you and I, sir, are not like other people. We have implanted cardioverter defibrillators — heart shockers — that cost more than a new Chevrolet.
This is your first week back on the job with yours. Welcome back.
And welcome to our club, ICD International.
When your heart flutters, your ICD will jolt it back in rhythm. When your heart slows, it jogs things along. It records for posterity the date and time of every beat. It sees you when you're sleeping, it knows when you're awake.
It adds 50 yards to your golf drives, allows you to talk with the astronauts and can transform a lackadaisical love-life into a daily bacchanal.
When word gets out, everyone in America will want one.
I've had my ICD for a year now. And the biggest hassle I've had is trying to separate the facts from the folklore. Yes, you can use the microwave oven, operate a garage door opener and wear magnetic insoles in your shoes.
No, you cannot go through airport security gates or allow the airline sorcerers to wave magnetic wands over you.
When you talk on the cell phone, hold the phone in your right hand. If you hold it in your left, your ICD will emit a warning — a soft, sweet hum, like a mother praying for her child. If you carry your cell phone in your left front pocket, I'm told your ICD will melt it like a Milky Way.
I'm told the device is virtually indestructible. The phrase "dust to dust" no longer applies. If you are cremated, your loved ones will be given an urn of ashes that clinks as they walk.
In short, the metal device in your chest, Mr. Cheney, is a wonder. And it will cause you very little grief.
It's that other device in your chest — the one that leaks, sputters and overheats — that causes all the heartache. I have one of those as well — a real clunker. I should put a bumper sticker on it: "My other device is a Mercedes."
But enough. I'm not writing to commiserate, but to congratulate you and welcome you aboard. Our club tends to show a lot of gratitude — especially to God, competent professionals and the wizardry of modern medicine. I've been reading the news stories about you and can tell you're already fitting in nicely.
We also believe — along with Reader's Digest — that laughter is the best medicine.
The other night, for example, I watched an old Harry Dean Stanton movie. Stanton plays a man who hustles people as an evangelist at night and as a used car salesman by day. At one point, he sees a guy examining an especially sour looking lemon. The valves are shot. The timing's bad. The car's worn out. The guy wonders if it even works.
Of course it works, Stanton assures him. Then a glint hits his eye. "In fact," he says slyly, "it comes with a lifetime guarantee . . . just like your heart."
Nice to have you with us, Mr. Cheney.
The NRA has Heston. The animal rights people have Bardot.
We're glad we got you.