It's Funny on the Insides
It's Funny on the Insides

Ben Morrison blogs with an abundance of humor about Crohn's disease.

See all posts »

A Handshake With Jack Mates

Crohn's blogger Ben Morrison discusses a very important handshake with his grandfather that's going to help him live a lot healthier.

I wouldn't have done it if I didn't mean it.

Two weeks ago, I was in Las Vegas playing a comedy club for the weekend. While I'm not the biggest fan of Vegas, my grandfather lives there and I am the biggest fan of him. My grandmother died this January and, for the first time in 60 years, he is without her, so any excuse to see him is a good one. He and I are prideful in similar ways and I proposed a bargain that was good for our health and bad for our pride, and we sealed it with a handshake. One of the most important of my life.

See here's the thing. I smoke cigarettes ‘cause I think they make me look cool and my grandfather won't use his cane cause he thinks it makes him look less cool. Both are hollow excuses based on our ego and have serious health implications.

I have Crohn's disease, which is directly inflamed by my smoking and Popop has a bum leg putting him one fall away from being in the hospital for good. The answer to both of these sits in front of us like an elephant with a cup of tea, but we continue making our lives difficult because it's easier than making it easier.

So that's why I shook his hand. After an amazing lunch overlooking one of Vegas' creepy man-made lakes, we went back to his house and broke out the Scotch. After he finished telling me about flying the bomber in WWII—to which he was given the Distinguished Flying Cross—and then working five floors up from Johnny Carson as the president of Velcro, it hit me: Jack Mates is an American badass and it would destroy me if I lost him.

If he falls, I will.

But then it hit me even harder that I'm pissing off my Crohn's disease by looking as cool as he looks when he doesn't use his cane. So I proposed the bargain and held my hand out.

I quit smoking, for good, if he uses his cane, for good.

He shook it. And here I am.

Two weeks later I'm cigarette free and have no plans to go back. I’m not going to lie—it isn't easy.

When you smoke cigarettes it's not like you have a monkey on your back, its like your back is made of monkey. But thanks to a very understanding supportive girlfriend and the image of my hand clasped in my grandfather's, I'd have to be a real lowlife to start smoking again.

Apparently this handshake had a similar impact on him—he's using his cane all the time now, which makes me jonesing for a smoke that much easier.

Plus when you shake the hand of a man from the 60s, you better mean it. 

  • 1
Was this article helpful? Yes No

About the Author

Crohn's Comic

Comedian and activist Ben Morrison writes about Crohn's disease with a heavy dose of humor.