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“The craziest thing happened to my dad on his way to work the other morning,” my cousin April confided in me.
I wasn’t surprised. My uncle David has a way of finding crazy. It’s probably why I like him so much. We can relate.
“He was standing in line at the gas station to buy his cup of coffee,” she went on. “For twenty years, Dad has gone to the same gas station to buy a cup of coffee every single morning.
“Never mind that there are closer gas stations or better gas stations. Never mind that that part of town has gone downhill in the last few years. He always goes there, without fail. If he ever goes missing the cashier at that gas station will probably be the first to notice.
“He is standing in line and he looks up and he notices a guy grab a bunch of things and run out of the store! This guy is stealing from the store! So he says to the cashier, ‘That guy just stole from you.’
“The cashier was young and looked like a deer in the headlights so Dad decided he’d have to take matters into his own hands.
“He jumps in his truck and follows the guy. The guy was on foot and Dad in was the truck so he had no trouble following him. Down the road they go. Fortunately, the cashier called the cops. Dad sees the cops pull up and he thinks, ‘Ok, they’ve got him. I can go to work now.’
“The cop hops out of his car and starts chasing the guy. Well wouldn’t you know they sent the fattest cop on the force? Dad thinks, ‘There is no way this cop is going to catch that guy. No way!’ Dad realizes he can’t leave yet.
“He stomps on the gas pedal, catches up to the guy, opens his door and grabs him by the shirt! He holds on until the police officer catches up. The guy flops on the ground and the cop sits on him so Dad thinks, ‘No way that guy is getting away now with that fat cop sitting on top of him. Now, I can leave.’
“His good citizen deed is done for the day and he has just enough time to get to work before he’s late when he realizes something.”
“What,” I interjected. “Did he tear his shirt? He has to go home and change?”
“No, even better,” she grinned. “He forgot to pay for his coffee.”
This first appeared in my column Life Face First last December. Thankfully, I’ve been out of physical therapy for well over a month! What good is a back injury if I can’t make fun of it?
When you suffer an injury bad enough to land you in bed for two months, your social life suffers. Your doctor and your physical therapist become your new best friends.
When I ruptured a disc in my back earlier this year, I suddenly stopped talking on the phone. The only things I had to talk about were my doctor’s appointments, what my MRI showed and the latest episode of Doc Martin.
It made me feel a million years old.
Consequently, I temporarily avoided people I otherwise talk to on a near weekly basis.
Luckily, for me, one of my new best friends, my physical therapist, also has a great sense of humor. Over the course of my treatment, we’ve become close.
Today, I graduated from physical therapy. Naturally, that makes me happy because it means I’ve resumed a relatively normal life. But it also makes me a bit sad because Deidra and I won’t have our chats and I’ve enjoyed those.
It’s very helpful to be under the care of a medical professional who can make you laugh, especially when you have little to laugh about. Deidra was able to provide the support I needed for both my back and my sense of humor.
It’s even more helpful when your physical therapist has suffered the same injury as you. Deidra was in the same ER on the same day for the same problem. She and I understood one another from the very beginning.
Today, at our last appointment we joked as we always do.
“How’s that weight,” she asked.
I was seated on the leg press machine with something to prove at my last appointment. We increased the weight to a new high. For safety, she was helping hold the weight until I was sure it wasn’t too heavy.
“It’s good as long as you don’t let go,” I joked.
She’d already let go and to my surprise I found I had no trouble at all. I said as much to Deidra.
“I wasn’t really holding it,” she said, “I was just standing here looking like I was doing something.”
“Some people never learn how to do that,” I joked.
“That’s sort of my job,” she laughed, “looking like I’m doing something when really I’m giving my patients all the work.”
She went on, “I sometimes wonder what they thought when they saw me limping after my back injury.” She parodied herself with a ruptured disc. “They probably thought, ‘I don’t want that therapist. Give me one who can walk!’”
“Hey,” I shot back, “There’s nothing like firsthand experience to make you better at your job. I’ll take the limping therapist every time!”
For me, it worked wonders!
I was on my way to a hair appointment. Getting my hair done is one of my favorite hobbies but this wasn’t just any hair appointment.
In one week, I had a very important meeting for work. Getting my hair done under these circumstances wasn’t just fun, it was professional.
I’m responsible like that.
This time, though, I harbored a bit of apprehension. My regular stylist was out of town. Ordinarily, I’d have waited for her return and worn a baseball hat until she did. However, work circumstances made a relief stylist necessary.
I was sure it would be fine. Naturally, I was wrong.
Things started off bad.
“We don’t have your same color,” the stylist told me. “I can use this similar color to touch up your roots then pull it through the rest of your hair in highlights to make it blend.”
I’m funny about my hair. Perhaps because it’s on the top of my head and that’s what people see first.
I didn’t want to use a similar color. I wanted to use the same exact color but my roots were showing badly and something had to be done before my meeting.
Reluctantly, I agreed.
Then, the stylist criticized the cut my regular stylist had done. She suggested cutting several inches off my hair.
I drew the line. I know my regular stylist gives great cuts. I limited her to a trim.
I began to dread what my hair would look like when the girl was done but I had no choice. I had to have a trim before my meeting. I just hoped my hair wouldn’t look worse for my meeting.
When she was done, I was relived I hadn’t agreed to let her cut off four inches. The color job was patchy. The cut was chunky and styleless. She had the audacity to charge me more than my regular stylist for less than half the work.
I positively seethed when I left.
The next day I attempted to style the mountain of shaggy hair the incompetent stylist had left me. I was distracted by how much I hated it and how desperate I was for my regular stylist to return.
Then, I smelled something burning.
I swore and flung down my hair dryer.
I had burned my hair. Charred bits floated down and landed on my shoulder, the sink and the floor.
Dreading what I would find, I brushed it out.
The haircut was so bad; I couldn’t tell what part was burned. Under ordinary circumstances I might have cried. Instead, I burst out laughing.
I wondered if I could pull off a baseball hat at that meeting after all.
The computer screen stared back blandly, impervious to my meltdown: a meltdown that it caused.
“You don’t even care,” I snapped at it.
Suddenly, there was a whirring from the tower. Lights flicker. The monitor went blank.
“NNNNNOOOOOOOO,” I wailed.
I dove for my cell phone and frantically dialed IT. Since I’m self-employed my IT is my husband Brian, our resident computer nerd.
I dashed off the numbers for his cell but there was no answer.
I texted him, “Call ASAP! The computer is trying to kill me.”
My phone rang.
“Really,” he said instead of hello, “the computer is trying to kill you?”
“Close enough,” I muttered. “It died! I was working on my column and it froze then went dead! I have a deadline!”
“Have you tried turning it back on,” he asked.
I pursed my lips. “I have not,” I replied curtly.
I punched the power button.
“Nothing,” I reported.
“Hold on,” he said. “Don’t you save all your documents to a cloud?”
“Yes,” I replied.
“Had you recently saved your work?”
“Then why can’t you use your laptop to finish the story,” he asked exasperated.
Technically, I could. Because the file was saved in a cloud and not on the actual computer, I could open it from another computer. Because I save after almost every sentence I type, it should all be there. If anything, I may have to backtrack a few words at most.
“Of course I can use my laptop to finish the story! That’s not the point,” I snapped.
I could hear him take a deep, calming breath. “I know I’m going to regret asking but why can’t you use your laptop?”
“Because I want to use my desktop. I feel more creative there today,” I replied with a tone that said duh.
“You feel more creative there today,” he muttered.
“Yes, some days I feel more creative on the desktop and some days I feel more creative on the laptop, usually when I want to go out for breakfast and work over a bagel.”
“Couldn’t you decide you want to go out for breakfast and finish the piece on your laptop?”
“No, it’s three in the afternoon. Breakfast ended hours ago,” I replied.
“I’m hanging up now. I’m actually at work.” The phone clicked off.
“Typical,” I spat at the phone. “No one wants to help when you have a real crisis.”
I’ve lost three pounds, I shall not want sugar.
It maketh me to stretch out my green pants:
It leadeth me to plus sized clothing stores.
It groweth my ass:
It leadeth me to aisles of cookies for empty calories’ sake.
Yea, though I walk through the aisle of sugar,
I will fear no cookie: For I have lost three pounds;
The bacon and the egg, they comfort me.
They preparest a table before me in the absence of carbohydrates;
They annointest my stomach with protein; My protein shake runneth over.
Surely diet and exercise shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will wear small sized clothing forever.
“Ho, ho, ho,” my husband Brian shouted. He bustled through the front door with a Santa hat on his head and a Christmas tree slung over his shoulder.
“I thought we were going to the Christmas tree lot to pick out a tree together,” I said disappointed.
“We were,” he replied, “but then something happened.”
“You left me at home?”
“No, I got this tree for free,” he announced proudly.
“Free is good,” I told him.
For the first time in the history of Christmas, my family was coming to our home to celebrate the holiday. I’d spent most of our budget on food. The rest of the cash was going toward presents. That left us with $10.89 to spend on a tree. Free fit the budget nicely.
He plopped the tree in a corner and dashed to the garage. He came back a few minutes later with the tree stand and forty-seven strands of lights.
“Give me a hand would you,” he asked.
Together, we wrangled the tree into the stand.
“Here it is,” he said with gusto. He cut the rope that bound the branches. They sprung free.
Halfway up the tree leaned sharply to the right.
We both cocked our heads to the side and stared.
After a moment I said, “Is it supposed to look like that?”
He turned to stare at me. “Of course it’s not supposed to look like that,” he snapped irritated that his free tree was more than he bargained for. “Have you ever seen a tree that looks like that?”
We stared at it some more.
“It looks like it’s trying to do yoga,” I said.
“Maybe once we get the ornaments on it will look better,” he said.
I wasn’t convinced but he was so proud of his free tree I didn’t want to disappoint him. I concurred and we began the long process of untangling lights and finding strands that worked.
Once the lights were on the tree, we hung the ornaments.
“Maybe if we put the bigger ornaments on the left side of the tree it will balance it out,” Brian suggested.
When we were done I said, “It just looks like the tree bends to the right and we put all the big ornaments on the left. Let’s try again.”
We rearranged the ornaments.
We stepped back to examine our work.
The tree gave a groan, leaned farther to the right and slowly fell to the floor.
“The old adage is right,” I told him. “You really do get what you pay for.”
“Nora! Nora!” She waved cheerily over the crowd. My friend Alice rushed over to me. “You look terrible,” she exclaimed.
“I’ve been here for three days,” I muttered. Here was the mall. I was trying to finish Christmas shopping.
She laughed. “You have not been here for three days! Surely you’ve gone home at night.”
“I didn’t want to lose my parking space. It’s only a mile from the door,” I told her. “Did you know that the pink soap in the bathroom makes a decent shampoo and if you turn the nozzle around the hand drier doubles as a hair drier? Also, the stores in the food court will let you eat leftovers for free after 11 p.m.”
She stared at me. “Let’s get you something hot to drink,” she said. She took me gently by the elbow and guided me to a nearby coffee shop.
“I can’t go in there!” I planted my feet and refused to move forward.
“There’s a line with more than seventeen people. Lines with more than seventeen people take eleven minutes and fourteen seconds. I don’t have that kind of time. I have to finish Christmas shopping. I have to finish Christmas shopping,” I shrieked!
The crowd around us turned to stare. I heard someone shout amen!
“If I help you finish shopping will you come in the coffee shop with me?” I started to shake my head no. “I’ll buy,” she pressed. I sighed. Coffee sounded really good. I let her lead me into the store.
The barista behind the counter had pink, green and orange hair. It clashed horribly with the Santa hat on her head and did little to detract from the quarter-sized disc in her earlobe.
“I’ll have a peppermint mocha,” I told her. “Can you add Schnapps?”
“We don’t have Schnapps,” she replied.
“What about Kahlua?” She shook her head. “Frangelica? Lysterine?!”
She leaned in close. “I can give you extra whipped cream and a candy cane.”
“Done!” I doubled fist pumped and shot a triumphant glare at the man behind me.
“How many gifts do you have left to buy,” Alice asked me.
“Eighty-seven,” I replied. “Don’t worry, I’ll show you the best benches to sleep on.”
Alice leaned over and desperately asked the barista, “Are you sure you don’t have any Schnapps?”
She sighed and handed Alice a candy cane. It was going to be a long day.