The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 4, 2013

Joe Hadsall: Asthma is in the lungs, not the head, 'Goonies'

JOPLIN, Mo. — I hate to start out a new year with a chew-out session instead of a geek-out session. But a crucial scene at the end of "The Goonies" made me hate that movie.

My childhood is ruined now. Seeing "The Goonies" as an adult with asthma did much more damage than Michael Bay's three "Transformers" movies combined.

I loved it as a kid. It had kids finding treasure while making adults look like buffoons. It had the kid from "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom." It even had immature humor -- a pirate named "One-eyed Willie"? You try to say that as a sixth-grader without snickering -- and barf jokes. It had my complete attention when it was on.

There was even a "Goonies" game for Nintendo that I played, where you had to rescue a mermaid, kick the crap out of gangsters with a yo-yo, pound walls to find keys and other weird stuff that wasn't in the movie.

The point is I played it. I loved me some Goonies.

Over the holidays, the movie was on TV, and I got to relive some of my favorite moments, such as the truffle shuffle, the "booty twap" jokes and Chunk's balcony-puke confession. I also enjoyed spotting actors that I had no idea were in that movie ("Holy crap! That's Sean Astin! And Joe Pantoliano! And Corey Feldman! And Josh Brolin!") and inserting lines from their other movies in "The Goonies."

There's also a lot of dumb lines and stupid premises that I can overlook because of the movie's charm. Like when Andy is playing the death organ made out of skeletons using the music on the back of the map, which is clearly a set of single notes -- not the chords that Andy plays -- but then close to the end, there's a smudge in the music, and she says, "I don't know if that's an A sharp or a B flat," but anyone with basic piano education knows that those are the same notes. I can forgive stuff like that.

But near the end of the movie, Mikey takes a shot of his inhaler -- you know, the one that he uses for his asthma after every strenuous event, emotional speech or conversation with a dead pirate's skeleton. When he discovers that it's out, he tosses it aside, saying, "Oh, who needs it?"

Wha-huh?

YOU need it, Mikey! You have asthma!

If you're out of Primatene Mist, you should go tell your dad, who just found you on that beach, and head to Walgreens to get another one! Give the pharmacist one of those rubies and tell him to keep the change!

I never had an inhaler as a kid for my asthma. My doctor didn't want to prescribe one, because he was afraid I'd get addicted. That brilliant bit of doctoral dumbassitude kept me wheezing like a squeak toy until high school, when an ER doctor in Anthony, Kan., logically explained that with an inhaler, medicine goes directly to the lungs. Go figure.

Addicted? You bet I'm addicted. To breathing. I have the same addiction as every human ever born.

Back to the movie. Seriously, tossing the inhaler aside was one of the dumbest things I've ever seen on film. I guess Mikey had a great moment that helped him grow as a person, and that growth meant so much that he realized the inhaler was less like Popeye's spinach and more like Linus' security blanket. Like asthma is all in his head, and he decided to outgrow it.

That puts asthma on the same level as thumb sucking, potty training, night lights, monsters in the closet and cooties. Worse yet, Mikey doesn't even use the inhaler correctly.

Mikey uses his inhaler 11 times. He takes a little puff and exhales quickly. Any asthmatic knows you take a big inhale and puff, then hold your breath as long as you can, so the medicine gets all over those angry alveoli in the lungs and calms 'em down. THEN you exhale.

Maybe if Mikey used it right the first time, he wouldn't have needed it all those other times. And that got me thinking: Of all the times I've seen inhalers in movies, I've never seen one used correctly. The kid in "Signs"; the kids bonding over an inhaler in "It"; the bad guy in "Casino Royale"; Superman's kid in "Superman: The Return"; none of those guys hold their breath.

All that has left me ready to rant about how asthmatics are treated in popular culture. I'll rant in print, of course. I might not have the air to scream for too long.

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