I woke up on July 4 and, as I often do, shuffled to my computer to read my e-mail. Then I read some blogs and wandered around the Internet. Then I shuffled to the bathroom, brushed my teeth, and spit. Black. Wait, I thought, Black isn't right. I checked my teeth. The usual color. Tongue? Black. Black isn't right.

Plague? I haven't been swimming in the sewers lately. I haven't been bitten by any rats. Or any fleas (that I know of). Oh, yeah, I did dream something about The Name of the Rose last night. Great book about black tongues. Great movie, too. Hmmm.

Off to the emergency room, where I go every time parts of my body turn black. Lots of waiting in the waiting room, watching Michael repeatedly ask for a place to lay down before he passes out from the dizziness and pain of an ear infection. Or wugs. More waiting while Michael decides to sprawl on the floor. More waiting while the security guards help Michael to sit up all nice and uncomfy.

Invited through a door to a hallway, I sit on a gurney, waiting for some sort of medical professional and listening to Michael (who has also been invited through the door, where he promptly fell down) as he complains to anyone who will listen (and some who won't, such as the hospital staff) about the shabby treatment he's gotten so far.

Still I have a black tongue.

Nurse Rick walks up. "How's the tongue?"

"Aaaah," I say.

"When's the last time you had Pepto Bismol?"

"Four a.m."

The Mystery of the Black Tongue: solved.

Later, at home, reading the Pepto Bismol box: "Drug Facts: May cause a temporary and harmless darkening of the tongue or stool." One end or the other, I guess. Coming or going. Somehow, I hadn't noticed that drug fact at 4 a.m.

I hope Michael's feeling better.