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The Journal of Literary Satire | Hastily Written & Slopilly Edited
Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Surgeon General's Warnings (If Hawkeye Pierce Were Surgeon General)

by Laurence Hughes

Benjamin Franklin 'Hawkeye' Pierce, M.D.Benjamin Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Surgeon General of the United States

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking causes lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. That’s right, folks, three on a match. It may also complicate pregnancy, particularly if the mother-to-be has lung cancer, heart disease, and emphysema. There are just two primary symptoms associated with smoking: First, coughin’; second, coffin. If you experience either of these symptoms, have someone call you a doctor right away. Though why they should call you a doctor I don’t know—I’m the physician. In fact, I’m the Surgeon General, and I’m telling you, smoking is just plain dumb. Not only is it risky and dangerous, it’s also hazardous to your health. It makes about as much sense as this lousy war.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Smoking by pregnant women may result in fetal injury, premature birth, and low birth weight. I once smoked by a pregnant woman and I felt queasy all day. Of course, she’d just slapped me with a paternity suit. We need to get smoking away from pregnant women and back where it belongs—in the boys’ lavatory. Women who may become pregnant also shouldn’t smoke, though smoking in the dark afterwards is permissible. Be sure to disable the motel smoke alarm before lighting up. Actually, most women don’t know if they smoke after sex—they never bothered to look. Not that smoking can make you pregnant—we doctors finally figured out what causes that. But if you are pregnant and you don’t smoke, you dramatically improve the chances that your child will be born healthy and grow up strong. In which case they’ll probably be sent off to fight in this lousy war.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Cigarette smoke contains carbon monoxide. There’s no extra charge for that, by the way. Tar and nicotine too. You might as well suck a tailpipe—it would actually be safer, as long as the car doesn’t back over you while you’re taking a drag. Smoking cigarettes also stunts your growth. Unless you’re a tumor. If you have to smoke something, try smoking the peace pipe. Maybe it will help bring an end to this lousy war.

SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting smoking now greatly reduces serious risks to your health. Not things like land mines and shrapnel, though, or napalm, or hunger and dysentery. It won’t stop the bombing and strafing, the mortar barrages and fragmentation grenades, the raping and maiming. It won’t help all those kids who get shot to pieces only to be patched up and sent back to the front. Quitting smoking won’t do a damn thing to stop this lousy war. So go ahead, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Laurence Hughes leads a double life: By day is a high-powered executive at a major publishing company; at night he gets tired and goes to bed around nine. His writing has appeared, as if by magic, in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Author, The Science Creative Quarterly,, and McSweeney's Internet Tendency, as well as the anthology Mountain Man Dance Moves.