Sunday, July 31, 2011

Freddie-locks and the Three Chairs

Once upon a time, my husband, Fred, wandered around from store to store, searching for a comfortable, portable outdoor chair.  I, as his wife, decided to come to his rescue and order what claimed to be a “Mammoth” chair, suitable for giants like 6 ft 5 Fred.
“Why is the box so long?”
“All the better to seat you with, my dear.
Fred straddled the box and pulled with the strength of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.  Finally, out sprang a long, long, rigid canvas anaconda-like parcel.  He set it up in the living room and unfurled the arms.  Eyes and mouths wide open, we stood in silence.  It was the “Great Chair of the Forrest” –the FATHER of camp all chairs.  Three bears and three pigs could all enjoy a little “down-time” on the chair and not rub fur or skin. Its 6-cup holder equipped arms stretched out like King Kong reaching for the Empire State Building.
Fred in his chair. 
Note feet not touching the ground
Bravely, Fred climbed 5 foot 6 inch “Mt. Chair” like Jack did his beanstalk.  Once in it, he swung his feet like a child.  “All I need is some zinc oxide for my nose and I could be a lifeguard in this thing,” he beamed.
The legend of “Fred and his Humongous Chair” would live on for centuries if he set it up… anywhere.  To enjoy campfire fun, he’d need a 7 foot marshmallow stick.  While sitting on it next November, in the snow, waiting for deer to show up, a whole herd could walk right under him, ducking their heads only slightly, whispering to each other, “Get the camera, I want a picture with his guy.” 
That chair was tooooo big.
Fred, upset.
The second chair arrived to serve its new master from a catelog.  It was stouter, but offered more power with its reinforced front legs.  Fred took the second chair with us for the weekend in the outdoors.  In a short time, it was clear that the chair was not made very well and already had a broken leg, causing Fred to sit lower...and lower…and lower.  He bound it together with half a roll of duct tape and finished the weekend. 

This chair was toooo frail, and had to go back.

Unknown short-statured person
beside King Fred.
By the time Fred’s third chair arrived, he was weary…and leery. Fred surrendered himself to this one…last…chair, and brought it with him to an outdoor music event.  At last, he was feeling kingly and confident in this, his new throne. Animals were lying down next to him, a rainbow appeared in the sky and bluebirds swooped.  All was calm and bright...because this chair was JUST right.  The only disruption to the peace of a good chair was the arrival of a "little person", whose size posed such a distracting difference to Fred's, that his friends ran for their cameras. 
But Fred has lived, so far, happy with his chair ever after.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Gall Bladder of the Pastry Whore is Enflamed

I’ve discovered there’s a whole new world of denial out there, associated with medical conditions that require non-emergency surgery.  I call it "Surgery Avoidance World."  Much like Elmo’s World on Sesame Street, it’s filled with bright colors, friendly people and most certainly NO scalpels.
I’ve heard of people who let hernias bulge so far it looked like the Loch Ness monster.  I’ve heard of people who walk around with goiters so big that bounce.  I used to wonder why they wouldn’t get those taken care of.  I don’t wonder anymore, because I’ve met them all in "Surgery Avoidance World."  The sun’s denial rays are so bright here--we don’t notice such things. 
I have gallstones, you see, and when I get a good helping of cinnamon rolls, my gall bladder screams, “You Pastry WHORE!  It’s ON!  I’m going to ENFLAME!”  And it does.  Apparently the stones are large enough that they can’t escape, but still make mischief and rattle the walls of the organ like a convict clanging his cup on the bars.
Dr. Minkey was all set to do my gall bladder-ectomy last November.  But when I heard his name, all I could think of was Peter Sellers in “Return of the Pink Panther” talking to the blind organ grinder and saying, “Filthy Minkey (“monkey” in Inspector Clousea-ease).”  I can’t possibly let someone cut into me with such a silly name, could I?  I’d be wondering where his squeeze box was, and giggle, which would probably tick him off and he’d “Whoops” drop his gum in one of the holes he would bore near my belly button and leave it to rot.  But non-emergency surgery was up to me to schedule and even though Dr. Minkey (snicker) said it would get worse…all I heard was I’m free.  Soon, my gall bladder forgave me for the doughnuts and re-friended me.  I decided if I was going to have the surgery, surely it could wait until I lost a little weight or cut out fatty foods completely.
Time marched ahead one month.
Napoleon probably had an enflamed gall bladder, because I can COMPLETELY relate to the position of his hand inside his coat.  He’s using his forearm to cradle his sore side.  Napoleon was in “Surgery Avoidance World”—and who could blame him really? He probably ate the fattiest meals possible before he posed for his painting.  See that “I’ve got a Gall-Stone” grimace?  It’s the same one your see on the Mona Lisa--who probably had an enflamed gall bladder too—solving, once and for all, the mystery of her wince/smile.  I have a dozen pictures of myself at Christmas looking like that saying, “Hurry up and take the picture so I can lie down with my pillow” like a ventriloquist.
Dr. Minkey retired two months ago, waiting for me to schedule the surgery.
My new doctor’s name is Dr. Collision.  Collision.  With a name like that, I just hope he looks where he’s going when he’s wielding that knife.
Unless my gall bladder re-friends me of course, and then I’m calling the whole thing off.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Butterfly Enemy #1 and 2 (and maybe 3)

The first time my oldest son, David, was terrorized by a butterfly, he was 3. He was sitting in a shopping cart in a flower nursery when one landed right on his nose and wouldn’t move. He cried…a lot. It was a big bug, after all.

The second time (age 5), it was when my mother innocently put on a butterfly puppet in the mall and flapped it around him. He screamed like he’d just seen …a big stuffed butterfly overtake his Grandma’s hand. I suppose it did look creepy--5 wiggling black gloved fingers and Grandma making a buzzing sound.

The third time, age 8, he was on a school trip to a butterfly house when another winged-intruder came very close to his face. A couple of nanoseconds of flailing arms and then STOMP, he killed it dead, causing a scene of unimaginable proportions including, screaming, running and hysterical zoo keepers scraping up the remains of the Ruby-throated Pussycat Swallowtail with cardboard. I’m sure there’s an age-enhanced picture of David at the zoo—even now--with a “Keep Him Away from Butterflyarium”” warning.

We’ve made gentle fun of him over the years for it and he’s taken it reasonably well.

Flash forward 20 years, when I take my first turn in a butterfly enclosure. It was very hot and humid in there--to satisfy the needs of the plants and the butterfly cocoons. There were pretty flowers, but buzzing everywhere.

Naturally, one landed on me, and I did the very uncool, “OH MY GOD!” scream and, using both my hands, rapidly flapped at it until it was gone (and I didn’t care where). The entire population of the exhibit (including the butterflies) turned to face me. The guard straightened his face menacingly. I imagined the butterflies lining up and performing stunt flights in a flying “V” and skimming my hair like bats.

“I’m going to have to ask you to leave, “the butterfly-loving guard said, which would normally have embarrassed me, but only brought me joy.

“I could kiss you, “I said, sincerely.

In the “Decontamination Chamber” where you go to make sure there are no butterflies are on you, I ran “in place” –which is “hurry up” in body language-- while a “netted” guard whisked one off my neck.

This past weekend I sat outside the zoo's new butterfly exhibit, while my daughter, Krista, and husband, Fred, went in together. I soon spotted a kindred spirit--a woman passing rapidly through the line, knocking children over, and repeating “Get me out of here!” As she rushed past the “Decontamination Chamber” and out, I spotted a butterfly on her back.

Poor thing. The woman, not the insect.