“Hello Mr. Lebherz, follow me. I am Dr. Ping Pyong.” I shook his hand, entered his office. My girlfriend came behind me which made me worry that I might have to take my clothes off with the lights on.
“I am chief of Kidney Transplant surgery. Could you loosen your pants and lie back on the examining table? Do you have diabetes?” he asked. Yes, for 25 years, for many years, my blood sugar was out of control. I still eat cookies.
He said he needed to check the pulse in my pelvis. He stuck his hand in my pants and lay it flat right next to my special parts. I told my girlfriend to close her eyes, which the doctor found amusing. I made another astute comment that I thought my pulse was in my wrist. I looked at my girlfriend and rolled my eyes as if I was enjoying this. Unfortunately my body is big, my special part is not. If he moved his hand just slightly to the right he would feel this. I broke out into a sweat. He removed his hand and with a frown said your pulse is weak. Strangely, my girlfriend said she already knew this. She was frowning too. I just can’t win these days.
Two years back I went through the trap door to our ancient basement. I wanted to check on the oil, being aware of snakes and mice that live down there. Lining the wall near the furnace was a group of large creepy bugs possibly from the dinosaur era. I turned to run when one of them jumped onto my shoulder. I had not felt fear like this since I shit my pants on Thanksgiving. I stumbled up the creaky steps, smacking at the creature and screaming. Slamming the trap door, I sprayed some Raid bug spray through the crack in the door. I hoped this would be the end of these carnivorous, hairy eight-legged spider crickets.
Last night to my horror, two of these freaky jumpers casually walked across my kitchen floor during dinner. My girlfriend made short work of them with a frying pan while I watched standing on a chair. Later that night I felt a tickle near my groin inside my sweatpants which I had picked up off the floor and put on. I dropped my pants with amazing speed. The largest spider cricket yet fell onto the floor. Once again I screamed. The thought that these man-eating creatures every bit as big as a nickel were now upstairs and in the underwear region of my pants was too much for me. Even after taking two strong sleep medications I lay eyes wide open with my flashlight, a baseball bat and garlic bulbs by my side.
Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday I go into a room with 32 recliners. The people in these chairs are missing feet and legs, and some are missing their minds. Some are old and near death. You sit, a technician sticks inch long needles in a surgery enhanced vein in your arm. A machine runs all the blood in your body seven times through a man-made kidney. After four hours you can go home, dizzy, drained, and thinking fuzzy until the next morning. You have to accept this. Some people give up and stop treatments. They will die within weeks. I thought life would be unbearable. I am actually happier now than before dialysis. I enjoy the small things in life more. Sunshine, my dogs’ wagging tails, my girlfriend’s laughter, a couple strong drinks, good music…the list goes on. Life goes on, thank God.
Eman is black, sixteen-years-old with Downs Syndrome. When they stick the dialysis needles in his arm he yells out, “God damn that hurts!”
We would all yell that if it weren’t for our pride. He yells this out once for each needle, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I know because I sit across the room from him. The nurses tease him. He yells back, “Shut up, Grandma!”
He wants to marry Beyoncé. He likes the Cowboys. He once groped the red headed nurse’s rear end and she had to pry herself loose. He does things I would like to do. God damn that hurts.
The Saturday night crowd partied together for over forty years.
It was 1969: The first guest would arrive at my parents’ home around 8 pm, Hi Bob, Hi Ann! That’s when my brother and I would go to the top step of our stairs and listen in. Gin, Bourbon, and Scotch were consumed in large amounts, along with many cigarettes, the smoke rising up the stairway.
My uncle Bill was always telling corny jokes. He’d say that he has reservations about Indians–he calls them his Indian reservations. Mrs. Curtis and Mrs. Rice looking stunning in their newest swanky outfits. My mother the perfect host, smelling wonderful with her Chanel Number Five, she was the life of the party. There could be as many as thirty people there, almost every Saturday for nearly forty years. The Cold War with the Atomic bomb, pressures from working, and raising families, these cocktail parties were a welcome relief.
My generation might say to them, “Party on, dudes.”
I do love you, I know I’m not that great at showing it sometimes.
—–> If you love me, why did you run over my lilies with the tractor? Why did you make a giant pile of leaves in the middle of the back yard? I told you not to.
I’m sorry. I have apologized ten times. Those were awful mistakes I made. One bad turn with the tractor and two lilies got smashed in an instant. There was no place else to put the leaves. Two dreadful mistakes which happened two months ago. You need to forgive and forget. I am not perfect. You are very important to me. Please don’t leave. I need you.
Our annual Fourth of July football game was under way. Little kids, senior citizens, even girls were allowed to play. I was going only half-speed as I had already eaten two hotdogs and two hamburgers. Even with this massive load in my stomach I caught a touchdown thrown by my uncle Frank. He could play with a cigarette in his mouth–that takes talent. When he gave the football to his son, little Frankie ran the wrong way and kept going until he was tackled in my neighbor’s yard. The turnout was big this year–nearly a hundred cousins and friends. All together in our front yard. I was proud. We were drinking, sweating and swatting away gnats. At dark the fireflies came out, then fireworks and sparklers.