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Don’t knit an Afghan . . .

In a previous posting I discussed the fact that I am unable to tune out conversations between others when I am within hearing distance, and I cited several examples of benefits gained because of my affliction—making new friends, learning things I didn’t know and passing time more pleasantly while in hospital waiting rooms. I’m using this posting to explain how I acquired a hand-knitted skull cap, a cap knitted exclusively for ladies that have lost their hair because of chemotherapy—oh, and at this juncture I must make it clear that I, the appointed and anointed King of Texas, am male through and through, neither female nor unisex—I’m not a woman, lady or otherwise, even if I am prone to don a bright red knitted cap occasionally.

Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas provides chemotherapy treatments for active duty and retired military people and family members. On a recent memorable morning I left the patient waiting area, took an elevator down six floors to the basement, negotiated seemingly endless winding corridors and finally arrived at the hospital cafeteria for breakfast. The cuisine there is only so-so in quality and presentation but the prices are—well, priceless, and they almost—not quite but almost—compensate for the lack of taste in the food. If you’re ever there for a meal, please don’t mention that I panned their kitchen or I may be banned from the facility.

In the hallway leading to the patient waiting area in the chemotherapy unit, there is a nice exhibition of knitted skull caps hanging on the wall. Dozens of beautiful caps of every design and color surround a mirror that interested ladies can use to see how the selected cap will look. The caps are made by a local ladies’ knitting club and are offered free to chemotherapy patients. I must hasten to say at the outset of this posting that I have the utmost respect for the group—I love ’em all!

When I returned from breakfast several women—knitters, if you will—were gathered at the wall display, rearranging the caps and adding new ones to the exhibition. As I neared the group I heard them discussing a planned flight to Las Vegas. I stopped and lounged against the opposite wall to watch them working on the display, and thus was privy to their conversation. I did not linger there with the intent to listen to their conversation, but because of my inability to tune out the speech of others I couldn’t help hearing them talking—it’s in my nature! For a detailed explanation of my affliction, click here to read, “It’s in my nature,” the forerunner to this posting.

One of the ladies said that she detested going through the inspection line in airport terminals. She felt that the workers were rude and made unreasonable demands such as ordering passengers to remove their shoes for inspection. She said that she was wearing sandals, flats I believe was the term she used, and she had to remove them and hand them over for inspection.

And in regard to that requirement, I can’t help but speculate that a goodly number of those employed at airport check-in lines are afflicted with foot or shoe fetishes, perhaps a combination of both. It could well be that the handling of women’s footwear and the sniff test the workers perform is not an attempt to detect the odor of explosives—it may be nothing more than the harmless actions of freaks seeking relief from the ho-hum mundane pressure of the job through personal satisfaction—so to speak.

When the speaker paused for breath I stepped forward and asked her if she planned to take her knitting on the flight, and she replied in the affirmative. I told her that it would not be allowed, that they would confiscate the items and hold them to be picked up on her return. She said, “Oh, I didn’t think about the needles—I suppose they could be used as weapons, maybe by threatening to stick a needle in a person’s eye.” I told her that was not the reason and she said, “Well, then why would they confiscate them?”

I told her—are y’all ready for this?

I told her they would not allow her to board the plane with her knitting paraphernalia because they feared that she might knit an Afghan. The group erupted in laughter and offered me one of the caps. I resisted but they insisted, and I am now the proud owner of a bright red cap with a tassel on the top—it fits well and I look great wearing it, and observers probably think that I am en route to the slopes at Aspen, or Vail perhaps.

I know, I know—it’s a dumb hokey joke with racial overtones, politically incorrect and certainly not original with me, but it served its purpose. The lady bemoaning the requirement to remove her shoes forgot all about the inconvenience and with a beautiful smile thanked me for making her day. As they made their rounds through the treatment rooms offering caps to the patients, they told the joke several times for the benefit of the patients, and each time laughter resounded in the rooms and into the hallway. My inadvertent eves-dropping on their conversation thus spread and helped brighten the day for more people, and as Martha Stewart would undoubtedly say, “That’s a good thing!”

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on July 1, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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It’s in my nature . . .

I have a ridiculous affliction, one that in my memory has always existed. I do not have the ability to tune out, to avoid or ignore activities and conversations that are within my sight and hearing. I am acutely aware of such, whether I am reading, talking to others or trying to snooze—I am constantly and vividly aware of the conversations and activities of other people’s speech and actions.

As an example, we sometimes dine at one of the local Luby’s cafeterias—not as often as in the past because Luby’s has made changes to their operation without my input, and dining with them is not as pleasant as before and is considerably more costly. While dining there I am always near other diners, sometimes almost surrounded by other diners, and I inadvertently listen in on several discussions simultaneously, but not through choice—I can’t help it—it’s in my nature.

And now to the crux of this posting:

For a considerable number of years I have spent considerable time in waiting rooms of chemotherapy units and kidney dialysis units, and as a result of my affliction I have accumulated enough thoughts to write several books, and made enough friends to populate a small town. A few examples follow:

Two male patients were waiting to be seen by their doctors, and while they waited they discussed their medical problems and this is what I heard one man say: “We can’t last forever, even though we were made by a good person.” Brief, cogent and to the point—with one fell swoop he admitted his own mortality and acknowledged his belief in the deity.

I listened in on a conversation between two elderly ladies that were waiting for their chemotherapy treatments. One said that she had been in the United States for fifty years, that she was now a citizen, but had not been able to dump her British accent. I interjected myself into the conversation—interrupted, if you will—and reminded her of what President George W. Bush said in reply to a reporter’s question concerning the president’s pending visit to England to meet the queen. The reporter asked him what he felt would be his greatest challenge on the visit. The president said something to the effect that, “Well, they speak English over there so I may have some problems with the language.”

The lady from Great Britain was still laughing when she left for her treatment, laughter shared by everyone present, presumably regardless of political affiliation. Again brief, cogent and to the point. The president in one fell swoop answered the question and acknowledged that he was well aware of being a target of derision for his unique use of the English language, and that he was alright with that.

As an aside, I believe that President George W. Bush followed a path laid down by my mother for me long ago. She always said that I shouldn’t be bothered when others talked about me, because when they were talking about me they were letting everyone else rest—brief, cogent and to the point. I have a drawer full of Momisms that I plan to dump on Word Press in the near future. Stay tuned!

I have often been charged with being too long-winded in my postings, to which I delightedly plead guilty. However, in the interests of brevity I’ll close this for now, with the admonition that if you and I are anywhere near each other and you do not want me to hear your conversation, don’t bother to whisper because I’ll still hear you. You’ll need to put some distance between us to be safe!

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

 
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Posted by on June 30, 2010 in Uncategorized

 

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