Thomas J. Madden, Chairman and CEO, Transmedia Group
By George, he helped me get through it!
That’s right, over the years books have been my buddies who’ve helped me through some tough times. Books are the best medicine. Reading is therapeutic. Once I read the complete works of George Bernard Shaw upside down.
That’s right. I was in my early twenties recovering from a cervical spinal injury from a dumb diving accident while lifeguarding. With my raging hormones now imprisoned, I would lie there for weeks flat on my back on a revolving Stryker frame bed in the Frank Sinatra wing of Atlantic City Hospital. And as the lyrics go, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
Every so often, they’d flip me like a pancake, so I wouldn’t contract pneumonia. First the nurses would seal me between two boards, like I was the salami in a sandwich. Then they would spin me half way around the world, from flat on my back to flat on my stomach. No wonder years later I would write a book titled “Spinman.”
Yes, I’m so lucky!
My well-perfumed, ebullient Italian-American aunts and uncles would come in to see me and they’d tell me over and over how lucky I was. Another half inch and I’d have been a Charles Krauthammer, physically, not mentally, for few could match his IQ.
Lucky? Somehow, lying there week after week in my lonely hospital bed, I didn’t feel very lucky.
My prisms saved me
If you ever go to the main page of my blog at MaddenMischief, you’ll see this tagline: Looking at life through the prism of the absurd? Well for weeks that’s how I read all of Shaw’s classics—absurdly through prism glasses.
Thank you Bernard Shaw. And thank God for those prism glasses.
While looking straight up at the ceiling, my prism glasses let me read Shaw’s books perched on my belly. I voraciously devoured his humor in Pygmalion, on which one of my favorite films, “My Fair Lady,” was based, in Saint Joan, Major Barbara, Man and Superman, The Apple Cart and Mrs. Warren’s Profession.
It only hurt when I laughed at lines like this from the latter:
If you’re going to pick and choose your acquaintances on moral principles, you’d better clear out of this country, unless you want to cut yourself out of all decent society.
Today I can’t help relating that line to Speaker Nancy’s describing President Trump’s wall as “immoral,” so I suppose she’ll have to cut herself out of all decent society.
But laughing never hurt that much back then as the valium they’d pump into me was like merciful marijuana that kept me tranquil, relaxed and delightfully sedated as I lie there with my buddies, my books balanced on my belly, who helped pull me through.
By George, they did it!
About the Author: Thomas Madden is CEO of TransMedia Group, one of the largest independent PR firms in Florida, where it currently operates. The firm’s clients have included AT&T, American Red Cross, City of New York, GL Homes, Jordache Enterprises, McCormick and Schmick’s, Rexall Sundown, Stanley Steemer.