Time is something you never run out of during a stay at a psychiatric hospital. The staff will give you cards or dominoes if you ask for them (which usually precedes a frustrating half hour trying to explain the rules of Go Fish or dominoes to medicated mental patients and ends in playing some game they make up as they go along, and you always lose). Softcover books are allowed if someone brings them to you, though you only get to have visitors once weekly. There were, however, plenty of magazines strewn about the unit. I was so excited about this because I was desperate to focus on anything other than being in a hospital where there are no doors on the bathrooms, you had to ask the male technicians for tampons in front of everyone else, and the woman in the room next to me never stopped screaming because she thought she was giving birth.
I grabbed a pile at random and began thumbing through them. Fishing magazines from 2004, Texas Parks and Wildlife, a weighlifting magazine that was written in German, Highlights, year-old Peoples. I was excited to find what I thought was a magazine about bicycling, but ended up being April 2013’s issue of Men’s Health UK. I read every page of that magazine, including all the sex tips, and saw that the UK seems to be more liberal than the U.S. in celebrating themselves as sexual beings. They just lay it all out on the table: heterosexual men like having sex with hot women and they want to do it as much as possible – let’s throw a party for ourselves! The magazine also had delightful bits of British humour sprinkled throughout. The U.S. men’s magazines take themselves very seriously; how dare you try to joke about my muscle mass? The UK version just wants to have fun.
That’s why I laughed, for the first time since being admitted to the hospital, when I saw the following page about building upper body strength through water sports. Look at #3:
I promptly tore the page out and stole it. Now before you judge me for destroying hospital property, I want to assure you that no one in that building will ever notice a page missing from that or any magazine there. Half of the magazines didn’t have covers, and about 30% of them were not published in this century. The happiness that this page provided me in that dark place was worth any legal, financial, or Karmic consequences of defacing hospital property. So get off my back and watch yours for demonic swans.