Saturday, January 31, 2009

25 Things About YOU

Everybody seems excited about this latest “25 Things About Me” Facebook fad; no real surprise there since a basic tenet of life is that your favorite topic will always be…….but after reading a few of them lately I have to admit: you guys are pretty mundane.

If you want me to read 25 things about you, they better be good enough to tear me away from focusing exclusively on typing up my favorite 25 interesting things about ME. Knowing the names of your first 5 pets just makes me feel dumber: get creative, folks.

Let’s get right to the nitty-gritty. Here are the 31 things we’d REALLY like to know about you:

1. Please describe, in detail, your single greatest betrayal including (but not limited to) names, dates, and rationale.
2. List your top three favorite people to smooch with (bonus points if it’s me).
3. Who is the worst person you’ve ever smooched with. Bonus points if I know him or her, or if they’re famous. (Lets take me out of the equation on this one).
4. Of all your friends: who has the worst breath?
5. What’s the nastiest thing you’ve ever done?
6. What do you feel the absolute WORST about in life?
7. Who do you secretly love?
8. I know you have a weird fantasy about something: what is it?
9. Tell me the 25 biggest secrets you’re NEVER supposed to tell anyone.
10. You have a friend who thinks you’re best friends, BUT YOURE REALLY NOT!! (HA HA!!) Who is it?
11. Somebody got hurt. You laughed. Who was it?
12. On a scale from 1-100 where is your self esteem?
13. What was the last real, soul-scorching lie you told?
14. You make fun of someone regularly. Who is it?
15. Who did you vote for?
16. What do you think about during church when you should be listening to the sermon?
17. You were madly in love with someone once and it didn’t work out, you still think about it quite alot. Who was it?
18. Your significant other doesn’t know that you ______________.
19. You’ve been publicly naked _____times.
20. The worst thing you’ve ever done was _________________.
21. You lied to ________ about __________ and you’d do it again.
22. You stole something once. You still have it and you’re not going to give it back. What is it?
23. You’re extremely proud of yourself for _______________ and you can’t WAIT for someone to bring it up again.
24. If you seriously had it to do over again you definitely wouldn’t _______________.
25. You’re way, WAY lustful. Primarily over _______________, and generally because ___________, and in church it’s _________ because ___________, and you’re probably going to keep it up.
26. You’re on __________ medication for ____________ and OH MAN you hope nobody finds out!
27. You cheated once and found out that cheaters DO sometimes win. When was it?
28. When someone swears you to secrecy it generally takes you ____________ minutes to tell someone else.
29. Your boss doesn’t know that you ____________ pretty regularly on company time.
30. You hate me right now, don’t you?
31. You firmly believe no list should ever end on a number indivisible by either “2” “3” or “5.”

There, now don’t you feel better?

My Surgical Residency

I pulled into the ICU parking lot Wednesday to visit my cousin Beau; I got out of my car, and walked out the front of the deck. Then I realized the deck I was in WASN’T the ICU parking lot – it was the Women’s Center parking lot, which would account for all the pregnant women wandering around; so I had to traipse around downtown Macon for awhile in my cowboy boots.

They hurt my feet.

I finally found the right place to be, mostly lost my truck, but managed to get inside without incident. Then there was the topic of elevators. Which to choose? And why all the signs with arrows pointing this way and that? How about just a “YOU ARE HERE” sign with a schematic of the hospital? I can figure that out, but I always have to stop under the stupid signs and think to myself “Well, ok. That arrow there is pointing UP. Does that mean ‘straight ahead’, or am I on the wrong floor?” Like I said – show me a damn schematic.

The elevators were marked A B C and D, and color-coded, so presumably somebody, somewhere, came up with a brilliant idea how to get around in this hospital and make it really easy for non-hospital folks. They failed and I hope they’re all dead so they can’t be held accountable for their folly in this life.

The problem is: the first four elevators that came slamming open in front of me I let go on by because they looked like “service elevators” inside - really deep, wide, and full of stainless steel and rubber bumpers – like the ones the catering crew used in my old office. I’m accustomed to mahogany, plush carpet, and mirrors you’re not supposed to look at yourself in.

Sometimes I look at myself in those mirrors and occasionally even try to “fix” my knappy hair – even when other people are there: sue me.

No mirrors here, but people behind me were starting to look REALLY pissed off because I guess I was blocking the entry. I figured I must be screwing it up some way so I just bit the bullet and got on the next one. I don’t know what I thought would happen if I DID ride on a service elevator: “get in trouble?”

With WHO? I still always feel like I’m just about to “get in trouble” for something. I live in a world full of adults and can never remember that I AM one. Stupid.

Halfway between floors three and four I realized: ALL the elevators look like this. It’s so a gurney will fit and you can puke and holler and skeet bodily fluids everywhere and it’s easy to hose down. There ARE NO “service elevators” - they’re ALL service elevators.

I needed to go to the fourth floor, but nobody had pushed the 4th floor button and I sure as hell wasn’t going to actually TOUCH an elevator button in a hospital; every bugger-ey, infected, finger in Macon, Georgia has touched those buttons. I had to ride all the way up and then back down again; then back again until finally, mercifully, someone said “which floor – 2?” and looked at me quizzically. I realized later I’d seen them a time or two already. I looked at the floor 2 office list later and realized – that’s the psych ward – they had seen me riding around on the elevator, thought I was retarded, and were trying to help.

That happened to me twice, actually, because later I got on the elevator to go home and an orderly got on with an empty wheelchair. All I could think was “where did you put the person that was in that wheelchair!??” but I didn’t say anything. If you want to push an empty wheelchair around the hospital - thats your business. I don’t tolerate hospitals well and I must have looked a bit wild-haired, or shell-shocked or something, because the orderly started asking me how I was doing, and “if I was ok?” I said “yeah this place kinda wears on me a bit after awhile.” He said “yeah man. I hear you buddy, I hope you feel better” and I realized that he thought I had some kind of chronic disease. I started to explain, but the door “ding-ed” and I hopped off without thinking.

It was the second floor.

I needed the first floor - NOT the second floor, so stood there with the other people who were waiting on an elevator until the next one came along. They knew I was the idiot that got off on the wrong floor - everyone always does. You’re kidding yourself if you think people don’t notice you got off on the wrong floor. If you avoid eye contact its better, but I didn’t. I looked the big lady behind me dead in the eye and said “I just didn’t like that elevator.” She didn’t think that was funny, I guess, because she just nudged her husband and they both looked at the floor. Then I realized: “second floor – psych ward - she thinks I belong here.”

A minute later the door opened. Same orderly from earlier. No wheelchair this time (where the hell is his wheelchair?). Nobody said anything for a second......then my resolve crumbled. I looked up and said, “Man, can you please tell me how to get out of this place!?”

He paused for a second, then asked: “Have you been discharged by your doctor?”

I looked at him, blankly, for a second.

“Yes” I said.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Juan Huang Lowe

Some time ago my roommate, Matt, burst into my room and, without so much as a “Hi, how are you”, dropped his trousers, looked me dead in the eye and said:

“Jimmy, does this look normal to you? Tell me straight. It doesn’t look normal, does it? I’ve got testicular cancer, I JUST KNOW IT. Something AINT RIGHT. WHAT DO I DO?”

I took a few moments to give the topic my full attention before replying: “to be perfectly honest with you I’d have to say no - that does not look at all normal (in general) but I don’t really think there is a problem.”

Despite my complete lack of medical training, he looked immensely relieved, sat down on the edge of my bed (trousers still at half-mast) and launched into a very long explanation concerning testicles in general, and, among other things, a certain size discrepancy which led him to the belief that he was suffering from testicular cancer (none of which made sense and all of which bordered on hypochondria).

Ultimately we came to the conclusion that he should merely keep an eye out for any sort of real anomaly, and perhaps run down to the doctor for a quick peek at the goods. Unfortunately, he understood that to mean that I had a vested interest in his reproductive health, so for the next three months the scene I just described replayed itself on a daily basis.

Nightly after work a mostly-naked Matt would throw my bedroom door open and say: “hey man – what do you think? Everything ok?”, I would reply simply: “Looks ok to me”, and he would respond with “Ok, as long as you’re sure” sigh, and walk out looking relieved.

Finally, his long-awaited doctor’s appointment came around and he went in (somewhat shakily) for a full-physical. The dudes of The Duderanch waited in eager anticipation for a report that evening, and, as Matt walked in; we turned to him and with one voice said: “everything ok with Lefty Hognut??”

He was extremely excited to show us graphically on his new 3"x5" doctor-provided diagram that yes, everything was indeed ok. He then took that small sheet of paper and taped it to his shaving mirror as a constant reminder of what to look out for; where it remained for the duration of Matt’s Duderanch career.

Matt moved out a couple of years ago and got married, but that diagram lives on. I found it this week under my bed between two canisters of dried-out “Floam” (the origins of which I could not even begin to imagine); and it made me miss the days of Matt “Caveman” Dunn a bit.

I guess it was nostalgia that led me to flatten out the water-stained edges, and tape it to MY shaving mirror for a change. It reminds me of Matt, and all those fun times……and the importance of good testicular health.

So, with that happy history fresh in my mind I was not at all surprised to overhear Matt at a rehearsal dinner recently, eagerly describing his previous testicular concerns… the mother of the bride.

She later confided in the bride her concern for Matt’s health, to which the bride responded:

“Mom he’s perfectly healthy! Whatever are you talking about?”

Her mother, fresh from the hairdresser, bedecked in all her wedding finery; inclined her head gently to one side and, with a quizzical look on her face, said in halting half-whisper: “Honey, did he not tell you about Lefty Hognut?”

Thank God I was near enough to hear it.

The Year to Come

I bumped noisily down the narrow drive to the camphouse; swinging past a large dog kennel housing the three shorthair pointers who eagerly announced my arrival. The driveway quickly petered out and I found myself very much in the front yard. I circled twice around the sprawling ramshackle building that was my destination trying to decide where to park, turned around a few times, then left my truck on the grass just by the back door.

Inside I found the usual accoutrements of male activity: crumbs, shotgun shells, congealed bean dip, cheap liquor, a few solo cups roundabout; but the inhabitants were nowhere to be found. I noticed no boots or waders on the stoop so I deduced that my late arrival did not long keep my friends from the chase. Later, the distant hollow "boom" of a late afternoon duck shoot in a neighboring swamp confirmed my suspicions.

Unfamiliar with the territory, I made myself comfortable in the game room listening for shots and reading 3-year-old sporting periodicals while I awaited their return.

Shortly after dark I heard voices and laughter proceeding up the drive then the loud clump-clump of booted feet on the wooden stoop as the men returned with their stories.

In came The Wingfields (3 of 4), Josh, Strib Stribling, his children, Bill, a dog named Maggie. Greetings all around. Bottles opening. Soon a pot boils, we talk of the coming days. Warm weather, dogs, hot noses, quail. Man-style spaghetti appears - lots of meat. The Wingfields descend on it like a sweaty chain gang and Joseph (the tallest) makes away with most of the meatsauce. I wonder aloud if years of similar deprivation have made Jared the shorter brother. We laugh. Josh, grinning, steals a plate from a Wingfield brother. The bread is ready. We crowd around the table, too short for 7 pairs of knobby knees, and our first meal together begins.

Bedtime finds us piled into a small bunk room stacked high with guns and gear. I walk in last to find Joseph, Josh, and Jared choosing bunks and discussing duck strategy; not at all unusual bunkroom talk except that Jared is standing idly in the center of the small room, loudly expounding wood duck theory, naked as a jaybird. No one seems to notice. Underwear, it seems, make him feel distinctly claustrophobic. Claustrophobic is no way to go through life, we agree on that, and he nonchalantly jiggles his way into his sleeping bag.

I mention that I tend to snore a bit. No one listens. Midway through the night I awaken to peals of uprorious laughter and Josh peeks over the edge of my top bunk to announce "Man, you sound like somebody is strangling a bear in your nasal cavity." I respond, but he can't hear me through the toilet paper stuffed in his ears.

The coming days bring bonfires and food, ducks and waders and shotgun shells. New rifles shoot well, rains come and go, we forget that there is no cell phone service. Late in the evening the coyotes howl their hunting song away back in the swamp, the fire burns low, and we agree - its a good year already.