A Loss For Wars

cemetery-2093999__340

Last Friday, news broke of an Army vet, suffering from PTSD, killing three staff members at the Pathway rehabilitation facility in Yountville.  The picture accompanying the story showed a group of sheriff’s deputies all dressed in camouflage uniforms.  My first thought was “this looks more like the Army than the police”.  It started me thinking about how militarized this country has become.  The police and sheriff departments have military uniforms, military weapons, and military vehicles and equipment.  Much of the equipment is given to them from the US government.

We have the War on Drugs, the War on Terrorism, and the War in Afghanistan/Iraq/Syria/Somalia/Yemen/etc.  We have constant reminders that we are under attack, at risk from drug dealers, Hispanics, Arabs, Muslims, Chinese, Koreans, Iranians, and gang bangers of various colors.  The world is full of bad people, coming to get us.  Who is us?  Why, we are the good people who live in peace and honor, virtuous in our national collective mind.

Protecting us are valiant troops, and we must always remember to honor them, as they are willing to give their lives to protect us.  So we make it a point to attend Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day events, fly the flag where we can, and tell uniformed service members, “thank you for your service”.  After all, that’s the right thing to do.

Except for when it isn’t.

If we really cared about our service members, we would do our best to keep them out of danger, deploying them only as a last resort.  We would elect politicians who truly value the meaning of life, and the life of a soldier, a medic, a nurse, and so forth.  Whether it applies to a country in the Mideast or the house down the street, the philosophy of “barge in and start shooting” would change.

Instead, this country rolls along on a constant war footing.  While this results in a lot of money for the upper management of the weapon / security / logistics / equipment suppliers to the Pentagon, as well as other national security related companies and personnel, it doesn’t do that much for the military veterans.  The meat grinder takes them into the various theaters of operations, and then spits out chunks of legs, arms, minds, and bodies.  Thousands dead, tens of thousands wounded (maybe more), and hundreds of thousands of relatives affected.  Not to mention three therapy / staff members in Yountville.

Returning veterans, partly because there are so many of them, don’t get the proper care they need.  Relatives, family members, and friends & aquaintances all bear part of the burden of care.  Add in the emotional cost of kids growing up with missing or damage parents, wives and husbands seeing marriages fall apart, and parents losing their children.  What do you end up with?  A whole lot of damaged lives.  Compared to all that, a few empty words twice a year from politicians and some occasional thanks from the public is a drop in the bucket.  Some might say, in a way, that it’s an insult.

We have troops in over 75 countries, and both declared and non declared wars going on in numerous countries.  Until the public says “enough”, the wars will continue, and more of our “honored” troops will be disabled or dead.  As a country, I think that’s our Badge of Shame.

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Mental Wanderings

It all started yesterday with a pink kleenex.  I had reached into my pants pocket since it was cold outside and my nose wanted some attention. I have a habit of keeping a kleenex (some say tissue) in one pocket of any pants I wear, just in case.  I do NOT want to be the guy that has the runny nose, no tissue to wipe, so brings out the grade school finger, hand, or arm wipe.  No matter how you try to hide or disguise it, no matter how casually or quickly you do it, EVERYONE sees you!  The next thing you know, people will be losing their breakfast/lunch/dinner, others will slip on it and fall, and the whole world comes to a screeching halt…..

Now, the sight of the pink tissue startled me a bit.  I only buy white, and for the life of me I couldn’t remember where I  had grabbed the pink from.  It made me think of my grandparents’ house, where my grandmother used to always have pink toilet paper.  Ever since then, I am not a big fan of pink tissue or toilet paper.  Probably those memories of a less than nice grandmother.

This morning, I was thinking of various things to blog about.  I read a little about society and behavior in one article, and it got me thinking about manners.  My grandparents popped into my mind again.  I remember growing up, and hearing adults talk about how kids and people “nowadays” had no manners, compared to when they were young.  Back in the 50’s, 40’s and before, people used “Sir” and “Madam” more frequently, and dressed up more as well.  I have to admit, that as a kid, I thought “Oh, that’s dumb, just another old person talking about how things were back when.  That’s old fashioned, they just don’t get it.”

It is only as I get older that I realize there was some value in good manners.  The high levels of anger, frustration, and shouting in society today are in part a direct result of bad manners.  So I thought, “you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone”, and immediately thought of the song by the same name, done in the 80’s by the hard rock band Cinderella.  They were one of the big Hair bands back then, doing their part to keep America’s hair salons strong.

So I popped onto Youtube to see if there was a video.  There was.  As I watched, I started thinking, “Hey, that place looks familiar!”.  Some of the video was shot at Mono Lake in California, just east of Yosemite.  Other parts were shot in Bodie, an abandoned mining town that is now a state park.  My wife and I visited Bodie about 3 years ago.  Upon entering the park, I was struck by how many structures were there.  Some have been mostly preserved, some are in some decay, and many others are gone.

What I remember most is the view inside on of the “normal” houses.  Not the fancy ones the few rich people lived in, but one of the everyday folk.  In an area that sees temperatures below zero and high wind in the winter, there was absolutely no insulation in the walls or ceiling.  Outer wood frame had newspaper under wood slats but just a thin layer of a sheet or two.  It would have been cold as hell in the winter.  I just kept thinking what a hard life that was, lived up into the 1940’s for a few remaining souls.  Compared to modern construction, it’s night and day.  Makes you appreciate what you have.

So my mind’s journey went from kleenex to old folks to manners to rock stars to travel to history to houses.  Funny how one thing leads to another and you end up at a destination you never foresee.

I’m posting links to Cinderella video below.  If you don’t like the music, put volume on low and watch for the scenery. (and the hair…..)

Cinderella video

Bodie state park:

Bodie

Tilting at Windmills

knight

There are times when I contemplate suiting up to do battle with the world.  Lately, (and I use that term loosely, since my last post was over 6 months ago) it seems I am in front of the computer, thinking I should put up a blog post.  So I mentally march to the closet to get my suit of armor.  Yanking open the door, I am not greeted by a single shining suit of armor, but instead by a hoarder’s landfill of ideas that threatens to bury me in a landslide.  Where to start in a fight for justice?  Politics?  Corporate misdeeds?  Racial or sexual injustice?  Legal issues?  Human behavior?  Pollution?  Financial misdeeds?

There are so many issues out there, that in a way, it is paralyzing.  I’m like the new immigrant at the mega grocery store that is tasked with buying toothpaste from 68 choices.  Just as you’d struggle to figure out which brand and type of toothpaste is best, I struggle with deciding what to write.  In the background, there is a huge clock ticking in my head.  Blogging about a controversial issue would require some research, which takes time.  Even a humorous post needs to be done when I’m relaxed, not when I’m wound up after a long day.  If it’s a weeknight, forget it.  I find I get through work and dinner with maybe an hour left before bed.  The weekends have been hectic too, so I end up saying “Aw, maybe next week”.   Which turns into another “next week”, and another, and……………pretty soon I feel like the guy that stares at the phone feeling guilty because he never called his date back the next day, and it’s now months later.

I am envious of the people who blog regularly.  Some never seem to struggle with a lack of material, and always have the perfect illustration or picture.  The Martha Stewarts of the blog world.  I think I’m more Dennis the Menace, late turning in my homework and missing a few teeth from when I occasionally put my foot into my mouth.  Sigh….

Time is a precious commodity, and I think that’s the first thing to fight for right now.  So I don my armor on a Sunday morning, then attempt to find my trusty steed as I push the landfill back into the closet.  I think he’s in here somewhere………

July 4th

July 4th is a man’s day holiday focused on things men enjoy. Food, fire, and explosives. None of that annoying shopping that Christmas and Valentine’s Day require. No forced exposure to unwanted relatives like Thanksgiving.

 

The first step is to fire up the barbecue. Some lazier folk use gas barbecues. Real men use charcoal, which requires lighter fluid. LOTS of lighter fluid. Your goal here, men, is to see how high that flame will be when you light it. If it reaches the roof level, you’ve done well. If it goes up another 20 or 30 feet, and scorches the eyebrows of Aunt Mabel sitting over at the picnic table, you’ve done even better.

 

Once the grill is ready, it’s time for the burgers and dogs. Dogs, unfortunately, are limited to hot dogs, even though it may be tempting to take care of the yapping Chihuahua that one of your relatives brought. You may also have to fight off attempts by the women to place tofu, veggies, and other “healthy food” on your grill. Do not let this happen. Keep small amounts of lighter fluid handy to create flare ups that will drive away unwanted pests like these.

 

Once the food is done, it’s time to begin the homage to “things that go boom”. The fire crackers and cherry bombs are good for daytime enjoyment, as well as dispensing with any unneeded appendages. Since merely lighting them on the ground will soon get boring, firecrackers can be relocated to underneath the lawn chair of an unsuspecting dozing celebrant. Cherry bombs work best in tree stumps, garbage cans, or underneath the fuel tank of the neighbor’s RV.

 

As darkness descends, someone may bring out sparklers. These are okay for girls and children under 5, but be vigilant to make sure you don’t get one of these thrust in your hand, as it could be captured on camera and you’d have your man status revoked in short order. Instead, you need to fire up the whistlers, the screamers, and the sky level boomers. Do not stop until your supplies are exhausted and the air is foggy with gunpowder smoke.

 

Happy 4th.

Quiet

Quiet……

It’s all around me, broken only by the sound of the tapping on the keyboard as I write this. Of course, it helps if you’re doing that writing at four in the morning…….. 🙂 As I’ve grown older, my hours have moved solidly into the “early to bed, early to rise” range. One advantage is that you gain some quiet time if you are up before anyone else. No TV, no phone calls, no errands to run or household chores to do. Just a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere.

If I have paperwork from the office to do, especially if it’s complicated, I try and save it for that time. It’s amazing how efficient and clear thinking you can be with no distractions. Solutions that I have struggled to find sometimes pop in to my head unannounced, like a welcome visit from a friend. Other times, when I’m lucky, it’s time for quiet contemplation. Time to sort out thoughts and emotions, make decisions, and change directions.

Some might say it’s similar to when they sit down and reflect over a morning cup of coffee. Although I can picture this, it still seems a little strange from a non coffee drinker’s perspective. Ingesting caffeine as you sit and relax sounds like a culinary oxymoron to me. I prefer to have a slower awakening, although the long lines at the coffeehouses put me in the minority.

I was reminded of this idea of “quiet” this past week as I listened to NPR (National Public Radio, for those that may not have heard it before). There was a local program on that dealt with police, in the wake of everything that has gone on lately. The host stated that both the police officers association and the police department had turned down an opportunity to be part of the program, so he encouraged any law enforcement personnel to call in (even anonymously if they wished). Everything was low key, reasonable, and somewhat polite.

It was a drastic difference from what is on commercial talk radio, where shouting seems to be the order of the day, and the hosts “talk” to people by cutting off discussions and channeling everything into a repetitive delivery of the opinion of the host. Dialog becomes diatribe. No room for meaningful discussion, no room for an exchange of ideas, and no quiet time for people to perhaps work toward solutions. Just as I can’t solve problems with a ton of distractions and pressure, we as a society can’t solve problems with a ton of noise and yelling in the air. No solutions mean more of the same, and often a hardening of the positions on each side. Wash, rinse, and repeat.

The commercial news, often starved for budgets or limited by corporate policy, has devolved into an attention seeking entity fighting for eyeballs and ears in a noisy world. Evening TV news has a heavy slate of police and fire related stories, accompanied by a surface-deep rendering of the news of the day. Very little that actually provides analysis and understanding, or gives readers and viewers an awareness of the background on events. There’s an old saying in reporting,that you have to tell people the five W’s in your story – Who, What, Where, When, and Why. The general media seems to have left the Why sitting by the wayside, abandoned. While some books and magazines will provide more in depth answers, it’s tougher to find that in the electronic arena (TV, radio, and internet).

With a little more discussion and listening, and a little less talking and noise, we might actually end up with a little more quiet time and thoughtful solutions. Just the thing to go with your morning cappuccino expresso latte…. 🙂

Pancakes

Reading a recent post by Sala, on her grandmother and food, got me thinking about pancakes. Like most boys, my brother and I weren’t really that interested in cooking. We could do cereal in the morning, sandwich at noon, but anything else was strictly in the “where’s Mom? I’m hungry” category. Except for pancakes, an occasional weekend treat at our home. Maybe because it involved a hot griddle, maybe because we’d get to help my Dad cook them, maybe because we’d been up since 6am watching cartoons on a Saturday morning and couldn’t understand why the parental units didn’t jump up out of bed at 7am to get breakfast going (Geez, the nerve of those people!).

In any case, we’d jump to help with the preparation. Flour was first up. That had to be sifted through a hand sifter that had a handle you squeezed to rotate blades inside. There were screens inside the sifter, to not only sift the flour but also probably to protect the fingers of curious kids like us. The flour was sifted onto wax paper to collect it, as well as on to other parts of the counter, the floor, and the “chefs”. Looked like a White Christmas sometimes in that kitchen. Then it went into the mixing bowl with the other ingredients, to be mixed with a hand held electric mixer. Since this was a power tool, and we were guys, we did our duty and tried out all speeds and angles. The mixer would occasionally become our “six shooter” that we lifted out of the mix while it was running, and pointed toward our partner in crime in a classic high noon shoot out. Mom usually failed to realize the beauty of our cinematic re-enactments, and we’d soon hear cries of “what are you doing?” and “put that back in the bowl!” ringing out. Having her counters and cabinets decorated by flying dough was an added benefit that she didn’t seem to appreciate either. Go figure…..

Once the prep work was done, the artistry began. Ladling the batter on the grill, we’d vary from big circle to small, long finger to attempted shapes and letters. Any mistakes could be eaten away, and we never seemed to have a shortage of those. When we were full, two hours and 437 pancakes later, we look down at the concrete ball that was now inside our stomach and think, “You know, I think I’ll just sit here at the kitchen table another hour or two until I regain consciousness.”

On some weekends, we’d be at my grandparents’ house (Mom’s side) for breakfast the following day. Accompanied at times by the leftover batter from the pancakes the day before. For THAT, my friends, signified another important event. Second Day pankcakes.

My grandfather was a simple cook, in a way. Having lived through the Depression, he could throw a couple of things in a pan, add some seasoning, and come out with something that was simple yet tasty. Soups or sausages or eggs or beans. Didn’t matter, everything was good. It was relaxing just sitting in the kitchen watching him work, and then eating the result.

For pancakes, he would take our batter, and make pancakes on his own grill. My brother and I kept up a constant commute between the griddle and the kitchen table, waiting for them to cook, and trying not to drool on the floor. He was slow and methodical, or maybe just methodical as I’m sure we were wanting those pancakes done in 15 to 20 seconds. I can’t remember if he ever added anything to the batter, but I still remember the taste of those pancakes to this day. They never tasted like the ones we made at home……Never. They were always better. Whether other pancakes were eaten at restaurants, camping trips, or friends’ houses, they never came close to my grandfather’s. While he’s long gone, those pancakes and memories will occasionally be served up in a Sunday morning breakfast of the mind.

Mother’s Day

Across America, and perhaps a few other parts of the world, thousands and thousands of families are gathering today to pay homage to the shining light they grew up around. One that always provided comfort and advice, taught them about the world, sent them love and laughter, heartbreak and tears.

Uh…….no, it’s not the family TV……….now get away from that thing and put down the remote!

As drivers everywhere try to remember just exactly where she lives nowadays, after fighting through the line at the flower stand, they look at their watch and wonder how long this is going to take. Then they remember…….they forgot the card!…….Damn,…..back to the store…….

Next, it’s time to bundle dear old Mom up into the car and take her to a overpriced, not so good Mother’s Day Lunch or Dinner, at a jammed restaurant full of other people with THEIR mothers.

As the offspring disgorge their gifts, Mom smiles and says thank you.

Underneath, she’s gritting her teeth. You know what she’s really thinking?

“I want my 20 something vagina back, along with a Chippendale with a hard-on the size of Manhattan.

“I can’t believe I gave birth this person. Is it too late to send them back?”

“I wonder if I can try and trade with one of these other families?”

“Did I remember the teeny bottle of brandy in my purse?”

“Uh, oh, is that spilled water or are my Depends leaking?”

“Wonder when I should tell them I blew their inheritance in Vegas?”

“I should have forgotten about having kids and just had a few more dogs.”

“At least if I have to visit them I can steal some extra Xanax from their medicine cabinet.”

“To hell with flowers, I need a good set of earplugs for this bunch.”

If I think back on dear old Mom, one incident stands out. My sister was fully into her headstrong teenager years, and in a full blown argument with Mom. At one point, dear sweet Mom got so mad she picked up a pound of hamburger and threw it at my sister. Now, being the athlete that she was, her arm sent that hamburger about two feet from her before skipping across the kitchen counter toward Sis. My brother and I, usually the troublemakers, watched in amazement. “Wow, Mom’s never done THAT before!” Years later, none of us remember what the argument was about, but all of us remember that hamburger skipping across the counter. Forever embedded in the family lore.

She was also quite Don Quixote-like in her eternal optimism that our family could have a “nice, quiet, peaceful family dinner”. With two teenage boys at the table……..oh yes, a monumental challenge. For us, at times, it was not dinner, but instead an opportunity to work on our class clown routines. My Dad was a relatively easy mark, as he had a good sense of humor and could easily start laughing. My Mom,…….well, that was a tougher nut to crack. First there was usually a polite plea from her to “settle down and let’s have a nice dinner”.

Now, for us, that was like waving a red flag in front of a bull. Game On! The next level was to force her up to a Level 2 response, which consisted of her trying to keep a straight face and remain a stern disciplinarian. As the seconds went by, you could see her straining as you increased your rapid fire delivery of jokes and remarks. Sometimes you went down in a ball of flame, but other times you saw the veneer cracking and falling away, then the smile and laugh, and you zoomed off into the stratosphere, another notch on your wings.

One other thing I remember from those high school years is the time I was involved in a school fundraiser. There were about 30 kids in the room, kicking ideas about what food to offer at a benefit dinner. Spaghetti came up at one point, and the amazing thing was that almost every single kid in that room said something to the effect of “My mom makes the BEST spaghetti”. Almost EVERY kid. I still feel that response is maybe less indicative of how well the moms cooked, and more indicative of the love that was served along with that spaghetti over the years.

So Mom, Happy Mother’s Day, and you too, make the BEST spaghetti!

The Friendly Skies

A few weeks ago, my wife and I had the chance to fly through Toronto on vacation, and all I can say is “What’s up with those Canadians?” Every time we stopped, looking up and around at signs or deciding what direction to take, up popped a Canadian telling us, “Follow me”, and leading us onward. They were popping up like gophers, every couple of minutes, complete with wide smiles and friendly voices. Walking out of one area, we found one of those terminal golf cart limos stopped directly in our path. Not to fetch us, mind you, but the driver stopped along her way just in case someone (like us) needed a lift to where she was going next.

It makes me think that if Canada were ever invaded, the intruders would be met at the shore or border, with a pot of hot tea and some scones and cookies, along with maps, blankets, and a chorus of voices asking “is there anything else we can do for you?” This stands in stark contrast to some other areas of the world, where the natives treat those that need some help as either lunatics, idiots, or cockroaches that have crawled out into the light.

The downside of this vacation was air travel, and lots of it. Taking an hour or two hour flight is pretty fun, sometimes even exciting. Taking a 5 to 10 hour flight is quite a different story. Walking off the plane, you pass row after row of empty cups, food wrappers, bottles, newspapers, pillows and blankets, all strewn about. It looks like you’re passing through a war zone. And in a sense you are.

It starts early, with the enemy booking those precious aisle and window seats. The next step is boarding, where various combatants attempt to stuff suitcases the size of Cadillacs into the overhead bins, delaying your entry and in some cases risking damage to your carry on luggage. Once in the air, the enemy will slowly lower their seatback into your territory. Do not let this transgression go unchallenged. Either start pushing the touchscreen in their seatback repeatedly, or lean close to them and say “Where the hell are those air sick bags? I think I might have to throw up”. Victory will see that seatback raised soon after.

You will also have to fight off so called allies, that will smile and sit next to you, but before you know it they are staking claim to the armrest between you. Judas is alive and well and sitting in 22B.

After a few hours, your legs and butt will start to revolt. To stop the pain, you try and shift in your seat, move your legs, stretch…….all to no avail. Waterboarding begins to look like a more comfortable alternative. So you decide to head back to the restroom. Unless you’re lucky enough to be on an aisle, you need to begin by tapping your neighbors on the shoulder, and pointing a finger indicating you need to leave the area. Be sure to avoid using the middle finger, however tempting that may be, as it tends to result in black eyes and spilled drinks. Upon receiving your signal, your neighbor begins the long process of moving out of the way. Drinks put down, earphones removed, seat belt unfastened, book tucked away or video put on pause, blanked removed, pillow placed on seat……it may take 5 or 10 minutes for the process to be completed.

You then proceed to the restroom, hoping to find some refuge, but instead you find remnants of the monkey cage at the zoo. Scraps of toilet paper, fluid on the seat, and maybe a momento in the bowl. Reality crashes down hard. So you clean up a little and do your business. Flush and get up to wash. Glancing down, you see toilet papaper stuck in the bowl. So you flush a second time, and see the tissue stay exactly where it was. Somewhere down on earth, you know the toilet bowl designers are laughing their heads off at your plight. Fighting the temptation to reach down and move it, you wash up and exit. Only to have the cute girl in 17C be standing in line next, entering as you leave. And you know her first thought is, “What kind of pig was in here?”. You find yourself wondering if those emergency exits work in mid air……..

On the plus side, inflight movies are a lot better now, with more choices and individual screens. Except when they’re interrupted by announcements by the crew. About seat belts. About flight time. About food service. About drink service. About duty free shopping. About the weather. About the crew. In English. Maybe in French. Maybe Spanish, Russian, German, Portuges, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, and 10 or 20 other languages. Accompanied by the drumbeat of passengers beating their heads against their screens in frustration.

Upon reaching your destination, you walk off the plane and head toward the local gambling hall, otherwise known as baggage claim. Behind the scenes, baggage handlers are shooting a game of craps. “Snake eyes,….damn….okay, that blue bag gets sent out to Honolulu, and I’ll take your New York bag for the next Cleveland flight…….Let’s roll again…..Hey, send some of yesterday’s flight bags up there so the people have something to look at while we figure out where their bags are.”

The Last Outsourcing Frontier

She came up slowly, like a thief in the night. A hint of a sore throat and fatigue. Just enough to start the alarm bells ringing in the back of my head (and no, there was no echo, contrary to what my wife may have told you). Enough time to make some calls and clear my schedule a bit, for this vixen could not be ignored. As she later settled in, the fun began. Her entertainment with the man in the house consisted of giving him alternating hot flashes and occasional cold sweats. Apparent payback for some comment I undoubtedly made in the past about Mrs. Dolphin’s “change of seasons”. This was followed by demonstrations about how quickly the nose can alternate between its rendition of “A River Runs Through It”, and it’s impersonation of the Hoover Dam.

As the Kleenex flew through the air, and my nose began its audition for the part of Rudolph in the nex Christmas play, I kept thinking there must be a better way. If Instacart can do your shopping for you, and TaskRabbit can run errands for you, why isn’t there something for sickness?…….Wait no more!

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Our hosts are carefully selected in their 20’s for high immune response systems. Not only will they suffer less than you would, but they also are building their immune systems up for healthy Golden Years. We also are proud that our program will make a significant dent in the unemployment rate for 20 somethings, as well as provide them a way to pay off those pesky student loans.

Prices are reasonable for the standard colds, while flu is somewhat more. Extras will be charged for any of the following:

Pesky in laws hovering in your home.

Pesky children that want to play with our host.

Food poisoning

Illnesses of more than 4 days

The Plague

Malaria and any other tropical viruses

Cancer

A Beacon of Light

It dawned upon me slowly, like the instant you realize something is different about your wife, but you don’t know exactly what. So you ask her, and hear “You’re just noticing now? I changed my hairstyle 8 months ago?” (Yes…that’s me….guilty as charged). Anyway, I finally realized that the spot on my forehead never really healed. I thought it was just a case of occasionally hitting it on something, and by chance hitting the same spot. You know how you get busy and can’t remember things? I’d think to myself, “Did I hit it again? Or did I hit it 2 weeks ago? Or 2 months ago?” Who knew? So then, in keeping with the glacial pace of all men (page 37 of the man code), I decided I’d go see a doctor.

Looking for a dermotologist reminded me a little bit of looking through the personal ads, trying to figure out the person:

Personality:

“Are they brusque and short with patients, or do they listen and seem to care?” (I’m skating on a thin line here. Too much caring, listening, hugs, and talk of feelings could get my man membership might be revoked….)

Family:

 “How is the receptionist? Does the billing dept curse patients who owe money and show up at their door wielding baseball bats? Does the staff laugh behind our backs and post pictures of botched surgeries to Facebook?”

Education and Skill:

“Did they graduate from medical school? Do patients rave about the end result?” Or is there only a mention of how the doc started out at eight years old carving the family turkey, and later deciding to get into dermatology and surgery, with a new nickname of “Scarface”?

Age:

Are they fresh out of school, full of excitement and enthusiasm, ready to practice……..on YOU!

Or are they about ready to retire, with shaky hands ready to carve zig zags on your face?

I ended up, like a few other men in history, with my mom playing matchmaker, sending me to her dermatologist. So I went. The first visit was to take a biopsy. Walking into the office, the first thing I saw was the huge wall poster declaring “Certified by Benihana!” It had a picture of the smiling doc, yielding a cleaver the size of Nebraska. It was about an hour later that they finally dragged me out of the closet of the dentist’s office down the hall. They claimed I was screaming and leaving claw marks on the rug, but that’s probably just heresay.

Once the results came back positive for skin cancer (slow moving, limited, so hold off on the condolence cards), it was back for the excavation. I never knew dermatologists were such big fans of Black & Decker. As she dug away, she kept smiling and saying, “It’s just like the coal strip mining we used to do in West Virginia!” Stopping just short of providing me with a full frontal lobotomy, she then cauterized the wound. This is when the assistant puts a vacuum hose next to your scalp, as you notice the faint smell of something burning……YOU!!!!!

Once the fire department had finished hosing me down, she followed with some stitching (now I know why docs never buy new socks), and finally a pressure bandage. For those of you who don’t know what a pressure bandage is, it’s a very, very thick bandage that they tape onto your forehead. Sticking a good 2” up, you officially now look like a Unicorn. Put some white flourescent paint on it, and you have a headlamp. Someone asked if I had a transplant done and if now I was going to be an official dickhead. I felt a little bit like Elephant Man, to tell you the truth.

After 32 hours, it was time for the bandage change. Collecting the official list of materials (Gauze, neosporin, non stick pads, tape, Q tips, hydrogen peroxide, whisky, hammer, chainsaw, the full collection of Encyclopedia Britannica, and a roast beef sandwich), I was ready to begin. You first peel off the bandage and tape, doing the man version of a Brazilian wax. Who knew men could scream in such a high pitch? This is followed by the view of your forehead, when you realize that you are absolutely ready for a Frankenstein Halloween costume. So you clean the wound with peroxide, and your pride with the whiskey. Then some more peroxide on the wound, and some more whisky in you. I still don’t understand it, but when the wife came home an hour later, she failed to see the humor in me wallpapering the bathroom with gauze, and playing army with a horde of Qtips glued to the floor…..