The Waiting Room

It’s some sad ass shit sitting here in the General Surgery waiting room waiting for my appointment. There’s some hurtin’ folks here. People walking bent over, crooked, slow, sad stuff. The wounded and all. Staff at the reception desk are nice and fire humor like rays of sunshine. Some of us smile, some laugh, some don’t react, must be the pain.

Another thing I’m figurin’ out about these waiting rooms is there are assholes everywhere. Sitting less than 10 feet from me is a man in his thirties and his mother. He has the face of a wrinkled egg with pale moss on top and a slit for a mouth. If I was God I wouldn’t have given him any lips either.

The dude’s cell phone rings. Immediately his tone is unpleasant, nasty. “I told you I’d call you between three and four,” he snapped into the phone. Pauses. Then, “That’s what I told you. You learn to listen. I’ll call you later, got it?” He snaps closed the phone. Looks at his mother, says, “That child needs a foot up her ass.”

I hope the surgeon’s gut him.


One of the Great Things About Dogs

One of the great things about dogs is they never complain about what you wear. They could care less. Now let me say I am all for people dressing and grooming themselves the way that makes them feel best. Not a problem. I do, though, have a hard time when some people assume quite a bit about someone based on what they wear.

Many years ago, probably around 1975, I’d been out looking for a job. I couldn’t find one on this particular day and returned home, angry and frustrated. I went to see Michael, my closest friend then and now. When I went into his house he was just beginning to lower a needle onto a record when I said, “You know what? You don’t get any fucking respect unless you have a suit and a good job.” The needle paused just above the record’s surface. Michael said, “Please – Nixon had a suit and a good job.”

Michael has a genius for right-sizing things like no one I have ever known.

I had a perplexing conversation with a woman I was in a relationship with some time back. It went something like this.

– Peter, your shirt doesn’t have a collar.
– I know.
– Why not?
– They didn’t make it with one, I don’t know. It has buttons.
– Not all the way down.
– Well, some are better than none, no?
– But there’s no collar, Peter.
– Is that important?
– If you have to ask that’s not good.
– How’m I to know if I don’t ask?
– Stop it. You should wear a shirt with a collar when we’re going out to eat.
– We’re going to breakfast at a diner.
– That’s going out to eat. I mean you’re wearing shorts, a shirt with no collar and not enough buttons.
– It’s over 90 degrees outside, lots of people are wearing shorts.
– That’s not the point.
– (I look down at my shirt) There’s enough buttons.
– That’s not the point, Peter.
– It is for the shirt.
– You’ve never made a commitment to a shirt in your life.
– I made a commitment to this one.
– Don’t you love me?
– Of course I love you.
– It would mean a great deal to me if you would wear a shirt with a collar when we went out to eat.
– Look, we’re only a few minutes from the house, let me go back and change shirts.
– There’s no time. We’re late.
– But we’re not meeting anyone.
– We’re late, I can feel it.

I have three dogs, they never ask me about what I’m wearing and I never ask them about what they wear. They have no choice. And while I do have a choice, it is mine and only mine to make.

Anyway, I have to go now. I’m late, I can feel it.

Waitin’ For the Bully

The doctor says we need to rule out cancer. I cock one eyebrow and say, No shit. He looks up, smiles and says, I think we’ll be okay here but I’m a little worried so best we’re careful. I say, I’m all for careful, bro.

I am surprised I am not surprised and not scared – just pissed. The day is beautiful and I am still in a good mood and the music that pumps pulsing from my car speakers on the ride home fills the air and as always my body moves to the rhythm. Need to rule out cancer, I think, and in a way I am glad because finally I can punch something straight in the mouth. I know the chance of cancer is not huge but knowing the possibility is on me for some curious reason makes me itch for a fight. Almost like I’ve learned a bully may be coming over and I’m thinking good because it’s been a long time since I’ve kicked somebody’s ass and this bully will do me just fine.

I am not worried about the possibility of this fight and realize this truth is a gift of sobriety. I know too there are people walking around these days who can thank my sobriety for the fact their legs have never been broken. The world of politics and advocacy can make you angry sometimes and sometimes, like I told Michael today, I miss the days when you can just challenge someone and throw hands.

Yes yes, I am glad those techniques of problem solving are many years behind me. But still… there are times when I see Dick Cheney – the man gives mens’ genitalia a bad name! – and realize I’d have no problem kicking his wimpy war criminal ass. And then there are others not so famous. One is this silk suited sugary sweet specious simp and, of course, others.

But you know what? I’m gonna go work on my garden today, plant some seeds indoors, listen to music, smile, and wait for the bully if he chooses to come to my door and, if he does – I’ll kick his ass.

Calling Saw Palmetto

I have been standing in line in this cavernous shopping center for more than three weeks now and I am sure of two things; management makes all employees take Quaaludes and Saw Palmetto is proof there is God, else I would have been to the bathroom 30 to 40 times by now.

Actually, I think Saw Palmetto would be the perfect name for someone in, say, a movie like the Godfather. Can’t you hear the lines now? Yo, asshole, you ain’t got the money? we call in Saw Palmetto and it’s bye-bye knees. You pickin’ up what I’m puttin’ down here?

Rhode Island could fit in this store with room to spare it’s so big. And there are employees everywhere, or else wearing blue smocks with name tags are in fashion and I’m more confused than I think I am anyway.

Now the couple before me is finally unloading their five carts worth of items for the cashier to ring up. But, there’s a problem with the bread.

The husband is holding up two loaves of bread for the cashier to see, one in each hand. “You got any idea how many slices in these?”

The cashier: “What?”

The wife: “We want to know how many slices.”

The cashier: “Should say on the bag.”

All three scrutinize the loaves of bread.

The husband: “Don’t say shit.”

The wife: “How do we know which loaf has more slices?”

The cashier: “Which one’s heavier?”

Now I want to call Saw Palmetto. Bye-Bye knees.