Please, Don’t Slap the Nurses

The other day I had to take my father to a doctor’s appointment.  He’s at the point now where simple everyday tasks can be grueling to complete.  Just getting in the car, out of the car, and into the doctor’s office, is exhausting for both him and me.

So we got there, and he was out of breath and had just sat down in the waiting room, when the receptionist called his name.  Immediately I knew something was up, because usually the receptionist doesn’t even look up when I sign him in, and only speaks to me on the way out, to set up his next appointment.  So I got up and headed to the little receptionist window that resembled the same kind they use in gas stations to protect cashiers from bullets.  I thought my father was following behind me.  That was my mistake.  He was not.  He was walking to the doorway where the nurse calls the next victim to take to an examination room.  At the window, the receptionist handed me a form she needed updated, and then I heard a ruckus to my right.

Does this look like a man who would slap a fly?

My father was saying, “Someone called me.”  The nurse tried to explain to him that they were not ready for him yet, and that the receptionist was the one who called him.  He yelled, “Get out of my way!”  And then he slapped her in the face.

I have to say right here that my father has little to no muscle mass left, so a slap from him would have about the same sting as being slapped by a wet noodle, but still getting slapped is getting slapped, no matter if it’s a pimp or a noodle doing the slapping.  As you might imagine, a hush fell over the waiting room and all eyes were on me and my father, Joe Lewis.  I took his arm and led him to a seat, trying to act as if nothing had happened.

Now I don’t have children, but I have to imagine that the embarrassment I felt that day was equivalent to the embarrassment of having a child, in the middle of a temper tantrum, throw himself on the floor, screaming, in a crowded grocery store or restaurant.

When I finally got my father settled in the examination room, I snuck out and found the nurse he had assaulted.  She told me that she was fine and that the slap didn’t hurt.  She said, “I know he is demented.”  Demented?  I hated that word.  The doctor approached us, and said, “It is all right.  He has no control over his emotions.”  It was then that I had a fleeting thought that they might sue me for not controlling him better, as if there were elderly leash laws I was ignoring.  But it has been over a week, and I’ve yet to receive a letter from the nurse’s attorney.  Keep your fingers crossed that I never do.

So, in conclusion, I can only assume that my father was so exhausted from the trip that it made him irritable and that was the cause of the slap.  But it is a good lesson for us all -  and the next time you must visit your doctor, remember to use the proper amount of decorum, and please, … do not slap the nurses.

2 Comments

Filed under caring for the elderly, comedy, Creative writing, Father, Humor, Parent, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Nature must take its course … even when I don’t want it to.

I tried to save a baby bird today.   Don’t know if I did.  I saw it while walking two unruly dogs.  The poor little thing was flopping around in the street curb, under the warm Alabama sun.  Today it reached 87 degrees.  My heart sank when I saw it, and I told myself to walk on and that birds die all the time, even when I’m not there to witness it.  But even as I passed it by, I knew what I was going to do.

I took the dogs home, got a wash cloth, and walked back to the piece of curb where I had seen the little thing.  I wrapped it in the cloth, it didn’t even struggle.  My first inclination was to set in down on the grass not far from where I had found it, but then I thought, if I were going to die, I’d rather do it under the shade of a tree.  So I took it back to our house and set it under a shady bush.  It couldn’t hold up its neck.  Perhaps it had a broken neck, or wing.  Every twenty minutes or so I went out and checked on it.  Eventually, its eyes opened and it looked right at me.  I let myself believe that it knew I was trying to help.  Then it occurred to me that maybe it would like some water.  So I got a little dish and took it out to the small bird.  It couldn’t seem to drink, but it started chirping.  I thought that a good sign.  After an hour or so, it was able to hold its head up just a little, and I had hope that it was getting better.  Maybe it was hungry.

I googled what to feed a baby/hurt bird.  That’s when I learned about the fledgling stage.  And how well-meaning people often mistake baby birds learning to fly as injured birds.  Several articles said that fledglings live on the ground and hop around trying to get the hang of flying, and this stage can last anywhere from 5 to 15 days.  I also learned that you’re not suppose to give them water or feed them.  Just put them under the tree where their nest was, because mother birds still feed fledglings.

Dammit.  Everything I did was wrong!  I moved it from its tree, I tried to give it water, I was going to try to feed it, and meanwhile the poor mother was probably searching for her baby.   The mother?  Then I remembered that when I went back for the bird there was a fat robin sitting on the curb near the baby, but flew off when I walked up.  Must have been the mother.

So it started over.  I got my wash cloth, took the baby back down the street and placed it under a tree in a neighbor’s yard that was not far from where I had found it.  The tree sat on a slight hill, and if I were a crime scene reconstructionist, I would guess that the bird, after jumping from the nest, fell to the ground trying to fly, and rolled down the hill, landing in the gutter on the street.  I put the baby under the tree,  between two big roots, so that it wouldn’t roll away.   At that point, the baby was able to sit up on its own.  Proving to me that it wasn’t injured, just originally uncoordinated.  I left it, hoping that I had put it under the right tree.  But who knows?  A couple of hours later, I checked on it, and again when I walked up, a big fat robin flew away.   Please, be the mother.  The baby was still in the same area where I had set it, but it had moved and was facing a different direction.

I’d like to think it will be okay.  I guess I’ll check on it tomorrow, and pray that tonight no stray cats find it.  I’ve been telling myself that, in the end, I did the right thing.   Left alone, the baby probably wouldn’t have been able to get itself out of the street before getting hit by a car.  I have no idea why trying to save this little creature struck me so hard today, but I was simply unable to leave it flailing in the street.  And tomorrow, if I should find that the little guy didn’t make it … I will remind myself that nature has to take its course, even when I don’t want it to.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately, the little birdie didn’t make it.  I found it at the bottom of the hill.  I don’t know if its original injuries were too great to overcome, or if it fell down the hill again.  This may sound crazy, but I buried it in the backyard.  I just couldn’t leave it dead on the sidewalk, and it didn’t feel right to throw it in a trashcan.  So, it’s buried among the azalea bushes.  I’ve been thinking recently how insane it was for the mother bird to build a nest on a hill, near the road.  How are any of her babies supposed to survive?  I feel like reporting her for child endangerment.  Maybe this was her first chick.  Maybe she’ll learn.  Hope so.

4 Comments

Filed under Creative writing, Humor, Life, Loss, Love, Nature, pets, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Day 25 (a work of flash fiction)

( When bite-sized aliens invade the planet, humans are amused, but are the tiny beings really as harmless as candy?)

On day 1, nobody even noticed that it happened.  It wasn’t until day 3, when a farmer in Iowa reported seeing them all over his cornfield, tucked inside the stalks, that the national media picked up on the story.  I didn’t see anything until day 7.  In fact, up until that point, part of me believed it was a hoax – April fist was around the corner. 

I was sitting on my back deck with Maxi, our Yorkshire terrier, while my wife sulked inside.  She was the one who had wanted a dog, and was irritated that Maxi followed me around instead of her.  Maxi barked, and I looked up from my newspaper.  A tiny, silver, saucer-shaped spaceship landed on the deck railing.  I watched in amazement at the ant-sized beings that crawled out.  I laughed out loud.  The rumors were true!  And who would have thought, right here, in my hometown – aliens.

On day 11, national news corps started showing enlarged images of the beings.  Their bodies were brown and bloated.  They had teeny legs and arms and buggy eyes.  TMZ nicknamed them “Raisinets.”  The Raisinets wore no clothing, only golden helmets on their neckless heads.  A Harvard historian concluded that the larger, more elaborate helmets indicated a leader, a Raisinet in charge. 

On day 15, a co-worker told me that she saw them in her hot tub.  My boss butted into the conversation and speculated, at some length, about how they reproduced.  I wondered for the thousandth time this year how he kept his job.

During a press conference, on day 17, the President said, “… no present danger.”  On “Nightline,” a NASA representative said, “The discovery of extraterrestrial life is the greatest discovery of mankind.”  Later in the interview, he said, “… innocuous …”

Each day, Maxi barked at the sliding glass door, watching as the tiny creatures in our backyard carried out their daily routine of walking along the deck rail, down the side, and into the grass.

 On day 18, a scientist in China reported that he believed the Raisinets were studying  our language.  That night Jimmy Kimmel had people dressed in Raisinet costumes dancing during his intro.  Nestle started putting images of silver spaceships on the boxes of their chocolate-covered Raisinets with the slogan – “They’ll invade your taste buds.”

Day 19, I was driving down I-65 and passed gas stations selling Raisinet T-shirts and gifts.  I stopped to get gas, and bought a measuring shot glass etched with marker lines of Raisinets, Humans, and Big Foot.  That night I had a couple of “Big Foot” sized Tequila shots.  My wife frowned as I drank. 

On the 29th day, I read a blog by a man who built a terrarium and claimed he kept pet Raisinets.  Similar to an ant farm.  He believed they enjoyed it.

The 21st day gave us all pause.  That was the day we heard their leader’s voice for the first time.  The head Raisinet wore a giant helmet with a crimson plume, and spoke on the evening news.  He claimed they had created a device that amplified their voice for human ears.  He said they had been studying our race.  He used words like “assimilate,” “surrender,” and “mind control.” 

I watched late night television that night.  Jay Leno said to arm yourself with a fly swatter.  The audience laughed, but I looked in the pantry and garage.  My wife found our fly swatter on top of the refrigerator.  We set it by our bed.

In the wee hours of day 22, I awoke to several Raisinets sitting on my chest.  They used their amplifiers to tell me that they enjoyed staying in my garden.  They said Maxi was a pest, but he could be useful – I had no idea what that meant.  They told me that the time had come for all humans to perform their duty.  They said they already had my wife.  I didn’t protest.  I wasn’t even frightened.

Today is day 25, and things couldn’t be better.  I work in a squad that gets to dig ditches. The masters say that if we are good, tomorrow we can fill the ditches with the bodies of the ones that didn’t survive.  This morning I passed by the bodies lined up along Main Street.  My former boss’ was on top.  It’s a shame, really, that he won’t be able to live in the new world.  Already things are better.  I don’t have to worry about my family, my mortgage, or my job.  All I think about is serving the masters.  This is my dream, and they have given it to me.  I hope to move up to the squad that moves the rocks around by summer.

Leave a comment

Filed under comedy, Creative writing, Flash Fiction, Humor, postaweek2011, Random, Science Fiction, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Evil Irises! I think they’re taking over the world.

The irises that will not die.

 When I moved into my house four years ago, irises surrounded the lamppost in my front yard.  Now, I have nothing against irises, but I’m not a big fan.  Sure the flowers are pretty, but they only last a couple of weeks, and then for the rest of the year what’s left are a bunch of tall, leathery leaves.  By August the leaves are brown and lazy.  They flop on the ground, and separate from each other in a most unattractive way, and no amount of watering gets them up.  For this reason, every spring I pull them out and plant impatiens or some other annual around my lamppost.  But every year the irises return.  Every year!   They simply refuse to die. 

This year I haven’t even tried to pull them out.  What’s the point?  They’ll only return with more vigor next year.  Besides, I don’t have the energy or the will to kill them yet again.  I have become convinced that they are evil.  Pure evil.  I think they are trying to take over my yard, and eventually the world.  I urge you all to beware.  They cannot be killed!  As proof to my claim of their evilness, I have taken a close-up of a budding iris flower.  This is what I found:

Consider yourself warned!!

1 Comment

Filed under comedy, Creative writing, gardening, Humor, Life, postaweek, postaweek2011, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Daydreaming of Paul Bunyan and a T Rex

One of my favorite passages from On The Road, by Jack Kerouac is at the end of the novel, after Sal sees Dean for last time “under sad and strange circumstances.”

So in America when the sun goes down and I sit on the old broken-down river pier watching the long, long skies over New Jersey and sense all that raw land that rolls in one unbelievable huge bulge over to the West Coast, and all that road going, all the people dreaming in the immensity of it, and in Iowa I know by now the children must be crying in the land where they let the children cry, and tonight the stars’ll be out, and don’t you know that God is Pooh Bear? 

When I first read this passage, many years ago, I loved it because as a child, Pooh Bear was my God.  Each night I worshipped at the altar of A.A. Milne, and snuggled my Winnie the Pooh close.  But what gets me now are the images of the road, and travel.  …raw land that rolls…all that road going…the immensity of it…  I write this because today I had an ache in my heart for the open road.  Since my father became ill, over two years ago, neither my mother nor I have been able to travel.  And lately, since the weather has turned warm, I crave the open road, cruising towards some destination.  I don’t even know where, but going .  Perhaps, the best part of any trip is the anticipation.  The sense of freedom.  The hum of the tires as they speed along on a warm spring day.  Passing other cars, knowing they’re headed to work while you’re headed to the coast, or the mountains, or wherever your heart desires.  They look like suckers.  You feel like a king. 

I read a blog the other day in which someone from the UK lambasted Americans for being uncultured and untraveled.  He claimed most had never even been out of their own state, let alone to another country.  I wondered at his statement, and considered it a gross exaggeration.  If he had statistics or facts to bolster his claim, he didn’t state them.  While I will concede that many Americans haven’t travelled outside of the country, I will argue a good number of them live near the Canadian or Mexican boarders.  Also, isn’t Cabo San Lucas one of the most popular spring-break destinations?  Maybe the blogger didn’t consider trips to Canada and Mexico counted as “world travel.”   Or perhaps he just didn’t think his argument through.

What I fervently disagreed with was the idea that most Americans have never been out of their own state.  While I could possibly give you names of a couple of people who have never been out of the country (and I said ‘possibly’), I know of no one who hasn’t ventured out of their own state.  No one.  Hell, it’s what we, Americans, are about.  Cars.  Open roads.  Resorts.  Amusement Parks.  Sandy Beaches.  National Parks.  Grandmother’s house.  We live for this stuff.  We plan it.  We record it.  We post it on YouTube.  We build bigger and better interstate superhighways to enable us to speed along to our destinations.  Most states have “Welcome Centers” for weary travelers to stop, take a break, use the restroom, get a snack, and snag a brochure or two about local attractions.  Cottage industries have sprung up close to our highways to capitalize on the American traveler.  Restaurants.  Truck stops.  Gas stations.  Seedy motels.  Gift shops.  I’ve even seen farmers markets and fruit stands. 

I’ve always wanted to travel the length of Route 66, from Chicago to LA.  Sure I know a lot of the highway is in disrepair now, but I’d still like to see the fiberglass Paul Bunyan, the statue of a Tyrannosaurus Rex, and The Wigwam Village – the motel that has teepees instead of rooms.  Maybe what I want most of all is to feel the sun on my face, land moving below me, and the anticipation of embarking on a new adventure.  Don’t we all?  But don’t tell me that Americans don’t travel.  We do.  However, unfortunately for me, for some time at least, I won’t be one of them.  Oh well, maybe I’ll settle in with another read of Jack Kerouac.

2 Comments

Filed under caring for the elderly, comedy, Creative writing, Family, Humor, Life, postaweek2011, Random, Travel, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Fuzzy Babies

A group of women gathered around the jewelry counter, like clucking hens.  As they gossiped and laughed, I hung big red banners from the ceiling.  Anniversary Sale.  Everything 25% off.  My ladder wobbled just a little as I reached towards the sky to secure the sign with a cable tie.  I disturbed dust-caked ceiling tiles and the particles floated around my face.  My eyes watered and I spat out the dust.

Banners hung, I climbed down the ladder and wiped my dusty hands on my jeans.  I could wear jeans on my job.  The hens wore skirts or slacks, with silky and frilly blouses.  They were adorned in dangling earrings and long necklaces.  Their shoes had heals, and made clomping noises as they walked across the sales floor.  My shoes had thick rubber soles, and usually a drop of paint or two on the bottom.

My back to them,  I folded my ladder.  All at once, they swooned, “Oh, how cute.” 

My brain raced through the possibilities of what could be so cute to make them all squeal.  The only thing I could think of was a puppy – a white fluffy puppy with a big red bow in its fur.  Don’t ask why.  I don’t know myself.  I imagined that a customer, or employee with the day off, brought the said puppy in to show her off.

My heartbeat quickened.  I smiled as I leaned my ladder against the side of the escalader, anticipating holding someone’s new little fuzzy baby.  I crossed through rows of socks and  purses, to the jewelry counter.  The hens stood in a semi-circle “oohing” and “aahing” over the object of their admiration.  I pushed in between them.  A couple of them stepped aside to let me butt in on their party.  My eyes widened, taking in the scene. 

 There was no puppy.  Just a woman with her hands on a baby stroller.  The pink, chubby baby lay under mounds of blankets,  like an overstuffed burrito with ears.  My heart sank.  It’s just a baby.

“How cute,” I told the proud mother,  half-heartedly. 

As I left the hens to fawn over the baby that looked like a  Taco Bell combo-meal, I wondered what was wrong with me.  Why was I disappointed that the baby wasn’t a dog? 

I didn’t have the answer, but that was the moment.  The moment I knew I wasn’t going to be a mother.

4 Comments

Filed under baby, comedy, Creative writing, dog, Family, Humor, Life, motherhood, Parent, pets, postaweek2011, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Showgirls of Elkton, TN

Heading north on I65, not far after you cross the Tennessee state line, sits a tiny town called Elkton.  Driving the short stretch of highway from Athens, AL to Elkton, you will see a barrage of signs for showgirls and exotic dancers.  They promise that exotic entertainment awaits, just take exit 6, past the large chicken with the missing fork.   

The club is aptly named, The Boobie Bungalow Gentlemen’s club.  No joke.  Although, I fear that visitors of the establishment probably see very few boobies, and even less gentlemen.  

I often wonder as I cross the Alabama state line into Tennessee, to purchase my lottery tickets, what kind of exotic dancer you can expect to find in Elkton, TN.  Let’s face it, Elkton isn’t exactly Las Vegas.   It’s not even Atlantic City.  Elkton, with a population just over five-hundred, is a city for weary truck drivers, looking for grub, a tub, and a rub.

Mainly, the use of the word ‘showgirls’ in the advertisements is what puzzles me.  When I see ‘showgirls’ I think of tall, statuesque, model types, wearing big feather headdresses and sequined costumes.  I envision feather boas, and stilettos, on stage behind an act like Wayne Newton.  Why would women like that travel south to a truck-stop town to perform?  Let’s face it, they wouldn’t.  This can only mean one thing.  The advertisements are wrong.  These aren’t showgirls.  They’re young, or probably not so young, women, with few to no choices.  Oh, I’m not trying to pity them, or turn them into some sort of commentary on how women in disadvantaged socio-economic situations can become exploited or used, although I do believe they can, I’m just trying to point out that perhaps the word ‘showgirls’ doesn’t apply.

I don’t suppose an advertisement with the phrase “Girls with no other opportunities get necked for a few bucks” would have the same appeal.  In fact, it might even make the “gentlemen” stop and think for a moment, “Do I really want to see this?  Yes, I do.”  But at least they would have thought about it.

Elkton does have a couple of gas stations, and a fast food joint or two, and Shady Lawns, a truck stop with the aforementioned giant chicken in front.  The chicken, who has seen better days, at one point had a giant fork and a knife tucked under each wing, but the fork is now missing – stolen is the official story (probably hanging in someone’s dormroom as a memento of a wild night spent at the Boobie Bungalow).  The chicken’s paint is chipping, and he’s faded, much like the town of Elkton.

I must admit here and now that I have never been inside the Boobie Bungalow Club, so I can’t with any expert knowledge say what the ‘showgirls’ really look like, or what they do, for that matter.  I’m just making a broad assumption based on observations of the kinds of women small, depressed southern towns have to offer, and a worn out chicken.

So, the next time you’re taking I65 North towards Nashville, or South towards Athens, turn off on exit 6.  Have a look around.  Then let me know if you ventured into the strip club.  I’d like to know of the exotic offering of Elkton, Tennessee.  Drop a line.  And don’t forget to snap a picture of the big chicken, sans the fork.big chicken with his knife

2 Comments

Filed under comedy, Creative writing, Humor, Life, postaweek, Random, Writer, Writing

Divisable by Orange

 

My friend told me that he sees numbers in colors.

“What does that mean?” I asked.

“I see every number as a color.  Odd numbers are fiery and hot, mostly oranges and reds.  Even numbers are cool and soothing, a lot of blues and greens.”

“How does this help?”

“Well, when I’m having trouble with a math problem, I think in colors instead of numbers.”

I laughed.  “So you can multiply yellow and blue?  I thought yellow and blue made green.”

“No.  Yellow and blue make forty-two.  Yellow is seven and blue is six.”

“What color is forty-two?”

“Forty-two is green.  Aren’t you paying attention?”

In a weird way I understood - not how he could figure out fractions using colors, but how one thing connected with another. 

I confessed, “The months of the year are in a circle in my head.   November is at the top, probably because my birthday is November 13th.  As the year progresses along I see myself traveling around in a circle.”

“I see the months as shapes.  December is round and sparkly.  January is jagged.”

“I once knew a woman that saw an animal in every person she met.  We worked at a clinic and she would say things like, ‘The quail needs a blood test.’  I would walk out into the waiting room, and sure enough, there would be a quail thumbing through People Magazine.”

“I wonder what kind of animal she would see in me.  I feel like a monkey.”

I hated to tell him that I was afraid of monkeys, but admitted, “I was born in the year of the monkey.”

“I’ve been told my aura is orange.”

“What number is orange?”

“Why… five, of course.”

“Of course.”

2 Comments

Filed under comedy, Creative writing, Humor, Life, Random, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

Moving Forward…

Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed. 

I suppose I should have known better,

but after the rain, the night fell quickly.                                                    

I was too confident.

I ran as hard as I could, but I couldn’t see my way out. 

Not lost… trapped.

 Alone.

I thought I was smarter than this.  I honestly believed that I was better.

Even the horses are gone.  They knew better.

And now the only way out is to move forward. 

Don’t stop.

There’s no time to cry, worry, or pray. 

Just keep moving forward.

“What’s behind the trees?” 

 Thoughts out of control.

“And what happens if I don’t make it out?  What becomes of me then?” 

Mustn’t think like this. 

Just keep moving forward.  The only way out is forward.

Legs grow heavy and stiff.  My back aches.  The soul is tired, but I don’t stop. 

I can’t.

Soon there will be a light to guide me out.  I know it.  It’s what I have to believe.

Soon I will find my way.  But for now, and until I can see…

 Just keep moving forward.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative writing, Life, Loss, Love, Poetry, Starting Over, Uncategorized, Writer, Writing

The difference is…

My soul is empty. 

Eyelids close over eyes that are dry.

Days are short while nights grow longer.

My heart races from fear.

Afraid of what is to come and what has been.

I am

alone.

No.  Not alone…

lonely.

There is a difference.

The hunger

is endless

and exhausting.

Not about love, but what’s lost…

passion.

My passion.

That’s the difference.

Leave a comment

Filed under Creative writing, Life, Loss, Love, Poetry, Writer, Writing