Friend of mine was seeing the doctor this week and before she was allowed in, she was handed five pages of questions to fill out.

Of course, most of these were your basic medical questions, but in there were some that were rather odd.

Do you use your seat belt?

Okay. Letís think about this for a moment. Sure, itís state law that you use your seat belt. Sure, it may or may not save your life in an accident or might prevent some serious level of bodily injury. But I am left to wonder why this needed to show up on a questionnaire before you see a doctor? Perhaps theyíre wondering if youíll freak out when they strap you down to the table? Or if you donít answer "yes" they may demand payment in advance?

It brings up all kinds of weird scenarios for warped minds such as mine. First, I wonder if the state is spying on us, somehow forcing or bribing physicians in some way to conduct these surveys, carefully hidden inside a basic medical questionnaire. Perhaps they are simply looking for statistics, but thereís maybe a more nefarious reason: Maybe, once they have your name and then can cross-reference with your license plate number they put out an ABP on your car and, soon as a policeman sees you, they pull you over because you answered "NO" on the seatbelt question on the doctorís questionnaire when you were going see the sawbones to get your Nexium refilled.

See, you think Iím being silly, but consider this: The next question, oddly enough, was: Do you wear a bike helmet?

Well, that just proves it, doesnít it? Obviously, bike helmets are not mandated by law. If it had said motorcycle helmet then youíd know that itís a clever ploy to get you to incriminate yourself legally. But you may drive a car with a seat belt and ride a bike without a helmet. Or you might not ride a bike at all, so obviously you wouldnít wear a helmet. However, if you answer "YES" to the seatbelt question and "NO" to the bike helmet questions, youíll have put yourself under suspicion of fibbing because this was a "check the box" thing, yes or no being your only options and you canít explain yourself.

Clear as mud, ainít it?

It gets better. Next question on the form:

Do you own a handgun, and if so, is it locked?

Now, call me a conspiracy theorist, reprobate, ornery old curmudgeon, but just what the devil does the doctor need to know that for when Iím going in for a case of the sniffles? Or do they suspect perhaps I got that ingrown toenail by accidentally shooting myself in the foot?

But if you fill it all out, now at the very least the doctor and staff know these things about you, and at the very worst the everyone from the state police to the Secret Service know, too.

Itís a pity these were only check box questions with no room to elaborate, because I probably would have to answer this way:

Do you use a seat belt?

Check "Yes." Elaborate: What, you think Iím going to say "no?" So you can track me down like a wounded animal, send out the posse and the bloodhounds? Ha! Catch me! Catch me if you can, ya filthy revuh-noors!

Do you use a bike helmet?

Check "Yes." Elaborate: I do not ride a bike, but I wear a bike helmet when fly fishing, because I am not very good at casting and it keeps me from hooking myself in my scalp on my backcast. I also find it useful for walking through bird sanctuaries, golf courses, domestic disputes and, lined with aluminum foil inside, keeping those guvímit brain rays from brainwashing me into swimming to Cuba to assassinate Castro.

Do you own a handgun and is it locked?

Check: "Yes" "Yes" "Yes" and "Yes" and "No" "No" "No" and "No" because I have four of them and none of them are locked. Elaborate: Now, see, youíve touched on a sensitive subject here, Mr. Questionnaire Writer Secretly Working For the OSI, CIA, FBI, NSA or Whatever Guvímit Agency It Is This Week. First of all, I am not a handgun hunter, I seldom if ever target practice and I do not rob liquor stores. I keep handguns around the house for personal defense, and some of them are just old family heirlooms, though functional ones. So in answer to the questions, I must say I cannot ever envision myself acting out this scenario:

A burglar is in the house. I wake up and hear him rummaging through my fly rods in search of the bamboo one Harry Boyd made. I call the police but he has cut the phone line, which in my case is actually the cable television line, because I have a cable phone, which also feeds the Internet, so I canít even send out an email for help.

I get my 9mm Ruger from itís hiding place but he hears me and comes at me with a fly rod case to bludgeon me in the head since I donít wear my bike helmet when Iím sleeping (unless itís the aluminum foil lined one and the guvímit brainwashing waves are particularly powerful that night.) So I yell:

"Wait, Mr. Bamboo Fly Rod Burglar! I have to unlock my gun so I can defend myself!"

Nope, ainít gonna happen. Now, if the question had been:

Do you own a handgun? Are there small children in the house who may not respect or understand the danger of a handgun? Is the handgun accessible to aforementioned small children? If so, is the handgun locked? Well, thatíd be a different story, but the question wasnít worded as such. Just guvímit nose-poking, thatís all it is.

Or perhaps thereís just a simpler reason for it, like if you show up at the emergency room having fallen off your bicycle and cracked your skull, are driving yourself to the hospital without your seatbelt on and, in the process of taking your medical insurance papers out of the glove compartment accidentally shoot yourself in the knee.

Yeah, that must be it. Silly me. Sorry for making such a big deal about it.