• The Myth of Dr. Kugelman

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    The Greek god Zeus is depressed for no one has worshiped him for almost two thousand years. At the same time, he suffers from gastrointestinal maladies which have not been remedied by the mythological methods of the physician-god Asclepius and his four physician daughters. He subsequently sends Hercules and King Midas to earth in to attempt to bring Greek mythology to modern man but they are miserable failures and convert to Christianity. At the Supreme God’s yearly checkup, Asclepius tells Zeus that all of his problems are psychosomatic and that even twenty-first-century medicine would be unable to alleviate his symptoms. On a bet, Asclepius offers to return to earth to prove that medicine today is inferior to the ways of the ancients. He joins Dr. Norman Kugelman, an ethical and hardworking Jewish gastroenterologist in New Jersey, who is enmeshed in a failing marriage. Asclepius finds out that current medical practice is much more difficult than he ever imagined and is humbled by the experience. Zeus can no longer stand the pain and he visits Kugelman on earth for a second opinion which includes a colonoscopy. The gastroenterologist makes an unexpected diagnosis while at the same time Zeus gives Kugelman some valuable godly advice but the age-old question: did man invent the gods or did god invent man, remains unanswered.

    Amazon 5-Star Review by Enrique P Perinetti
    “I love it. If you ever had any interest in Greek mythology you will enjoy more. Easy to read very interesting and amusing.”

    Amazon 5- Star Review By Peter H. Green
    “A little gem: a riotous tale that flows from beginning to end. Dr. David Margolis knows his subjects well: both gastroenterology AND mythology, not to mention an amusing and instructive dose of comparative religion. His romp through the ages relates the eternal quest of Zeus for a cure to his intestinal distress and his marital woes.”

    Amazon 5-Star Review by Jon From Brooklyn
    “Ladies and gentlemen, I think we have found the next Franz Kafka, except this time people will probably discover his literary genius during his lifetime.”

    Excerpt A
    Zeus was in agony, and if gods could die he would have considered suicide. He had been awakened before sunrise by cramps shooting through his belly like the thunderbolts that he had once used, and his abdomen seemed ready to explode. Yet he was not surprised that his intestines were acting unruly, for he had partied into the wee hours, gorging and boozing, trying to relieve his mind of the depressing thoughts that constantly haunted him.

    Sadly, the physician god Asclepius and his four physician daughters had been unable to quell his gastrointestinal upheavals, while the great healer, Hippocrates, a mere mortal, had left the world of the living in 370 B.C. The man’s soul now resided in the Elysian

    Fields, the mythological counterpart to heaven, and Zeus soon realized, like many earthlings, that a good family physician was hard to replace.

    As he lay on the divine bed, curled up in the fetal position, his thoughts returned to the source of his despondence. It had been thousands of years since anyone had worshiped him or his pantheon of gods. With the start of the new millennium, he had hoped that conditions would improve, yet neither a prayer nor a blessing had come his way; even a curse would have been welcomed, but to no avail. Most of the Olympians had gone into semi-retirement or had suffered eternal burnout, and revenue to support the pagan theology had completely dried up, causing his palace to experience poorly flushing toilets and a leaking roof.

    To his mortification, cheap Formica had replaced many of the beautiful marble accouterments, and there was no heat or electricity in the building for days at a time. As another excruciating spasm ripped through his gut, Zeus called for his slave, the eunuch Castro, to bring him a laxative tea made from Senna leaves. Finally, after a productive sojourn on the celestial commode, he fell into a fitful sleep.

    Excerpt B

    Kugelman’s existence would have been tolerable if he hadn’t been plagued by a dilemma which in due time took on a central role in his life. That problem was his constant craving for pork, which of course was against Jewish dietary laws. Norman had a legacy of eating the forbidden flesh. His grandfather had emigrated from Russia and found a job in a meatpacking plant scraping together enough money to open his own butcher shop.

    To the surprise of his relatives, he started selling non-kosher meat to gentiles, becoming an expert in the production of pork sausages. Norman had witnessed him noshing on these wursts, away from his grandmother’s watchful eye, when he had visited the store as a youngster. His father, an otolaryngologist, also had a love affair with hog victuals and had eaten two strips of bacon for breakfast almost every day of his life, although he did draw the line at ham, and patently eschewed the chewing of pork on the Jewish high holidays.

    When Norman and Selma were married, she insisted that they keep a kosher home.

    Regrettably, he became more obsessive as the years wore on, such that his pig eating eventually caused him indescribable anguish. He would sneak out in the noon hour and visit the Rib Shack, a small restaurant that was known for its pork ribs. There, he could polish off two or three hickory smoked slabs, then hastily return to his office before his afternoon appointments commenced.

    On Sundays, he went to the synagogue for the weekly men’s club breakfast of lox and bagels, but often left early to visit the local pancake house for some Belgian waffles with extra sausage and bacon piled high on his plate. Every Christmas, he received a large ham from one of his patients who was unaware of his religion--even if she didn’t know that Kugelman was a Jewish name, his large Semitic nose should have been a giveaway.

    He would put the Hillshire Farm product in the break room refrigerator, and in the evening when all the employees had left, he would slice off a big hunk and ruefully devour it before heading home to Selma. Norman attended medical conventions out of town and was invited to upscale restaurants, ingesting a mammoth pork chop while listening to some expert physician extol the newest product for intestinal gas.