Happy thoughts can’t kill the Balrog

Gandalf the Gray stood hip-to-shoulder with the hobbit Lardbo Larson at the great stone doors of the Mines of Moria (1). They were holding their noses.
“I don’t think that killed him,” said Lardbo. The stench of the Balrog (2) still poured from the doors, infecting the whole countryside with an odor worse than the breath of the old dragon Smaug.
Gandalf (3) shook his head. “I thought for sure that would work. Remind me, Lardbo, what we’ve tried thus far.”
“Well, there were the magic oils (peppermint, tea tree, and oregano) and the apple cider vinegar concoction. Then we tried flooding him out (4) by blowing up the dam on the Great River and diverting the water into the mines. Finally we tried burning him out (5) by setting fire to the ancient forest, Fangorn, and calling on your eagle friends to fan the smoke into the mines.”
“Maybe it’s your stress level,” said the wizard. “Have you tried yoga?” Gandalf performed the downward dog.
Lardbo crouched and looked his old friend in the eye. “So you’re saying if I just think happy thoughts, we can kill the Balrog?”
“Couldn’t hurt,” Gandalf replied. “C’mon. Chant with me! OHHHHMMMMMMMM!”
Lardbo turned to his faithful companion, Robwise Pamgee, and whispered. “Ride old Bill to Isengard and find Saruman (6). Tell him we’ll give him Gandalf if he can kill the Balrog.”
Robwise was shocked. “The evil white wizard? Didn’t he already try to kill the Balrog with an army of goblins (7)?”
“Yeah, they killed the cave trolls but not the Balrog, and now they’ve taken up residence in the mines. I hear Saruman has a new weapon that can clear the mines once and for all.”
When Robwise arrived at Isengard, Saruman rubbed his hands together in glee. He’d been trying for centuries to capture Gandalf and his silly bag of fireworks, ancient spells and remedies. “Unleash the Orcs (8),” he hissed.
A terrible army of 10,000 Orcs went forth from Isengard to the Misty Mountains. Ignoring Gandalf and Lardbo, they rushed headlong into the mines. At their heels was Saruman, the White Wizard, who stopped beside his old nemesis, Gandalf.
In minutes, the Orcs emerged, carrying the corpse of the evil Balrog on their shoulders.
“I think it was the yoga that killed him,” Gandalf said. “He was probably dead before the Orcs ever found him.”
Saruman said, “Think what you want” and clubbed Gandalf with his staff.
“What did you do that for?” the gray wizard cried.
“I’m banishing you to the Tower of Orthanc,” said Saruman, “where you can no longer fool poor hobbits with your bag of tricks.”
Two of the Orcs grabbed Gandalf by the arms and led him away.
“But Lardbo!” Gandalf shouted over his shoulder. “We have more adventures before us! Dragons to slay! Evil to conquer!”
Lardbo and Robwise looked at each other, then at Gandalf.
“I’m going with this guy,” Lardbo said, jabbing Saruman with his thumb.
Saruman put his hand on Lardbo’s shoulder. “Mr. Hobbit, this looks like the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”
1. In this allegory, the Mines of Moria represent your poor editor’s sinus cavities. 2. A horrific sinus infection I’ve been fighting for six months. 3. Purveyors of homeopathic remedies. 4. Neti pot and sinus rinse kit. 5. Steam treatments and hotpacks. 6. Good ol’ western medicine. 7. 10-day course of Augmentin, 10-day course of Cipro. 8. Clindamycin, 300mg, 3x/day for 14 days with refill.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger, and yes, his recent illness has sent him off the deep end.
This column was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger on Dec. 5, 2012.


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