Thursday, September 21, 2006

sneak attack

the weather’s turning. the air bites now, has an edge; there are colors on the other side. yesterday felt like the first day of fall.

-- that picture always makes me smile.

i am in my dermatologist’s examining room, where one wall is dominated by a picture of dr. b in a boat, hefting a 26-inch rainbow trout. he’s wearing a floppy hat with a trailing skirt that flows down his bare head over his shoulders. he looks supremely triumphant and at the same time utterly ridiculous. the picture always makes me smile, and i tell him so.

-- this is my happy room -- he confides. sometimes in the middle of the day i just come in here and sit. i sit in that chair you’re in and after a couple minutes i feel that yes, there is life after death.

that is good to know. because when i woke up the previous night flaying my skin off with my nails i really craved something dark and merciful to stop the itching and fever in my upper arm. it is good to know you can come back from that. what is my thing with the fucking insect bites, i want to know. but he has more to say.

-- i don’t have a place like this at home. it’s bare. it’s not me.

i came for dr. b’s opinion about my body’s virulent reaction to a bald-faced hornet encounter, but what i’m getting is his loneliness. when his wife left, he explains, she stripped the house and it no longer feels like home.

-- and i’m not the kind of person who likes to be alone. i can't see a movie by myself. i loved going to wine-tastings but i can’t go anymore because i just sit there making idle conversation, trying to ignore how uncomfortable i feel because i’m not part of a couple.

is this what it comes down to, then? sinking your life into someone else and giving half of it away ifwhen she leaves? revealing your delicate skin to an infrequent patient?

-- when did she leave?
-- a year ago.

who am i to advise a 50-something divorcé who's uncomfortable alone? i am on the opposite end of the spectrum. what's my line?

-- it’s not so bad when the weather’s warm and i can be outside. but in the winter… he shrugs and stares at his younger self. i don’t get out enough to meet people. i see my kids, sure, but most of my time i spend here and, well, i just miss wine-tastings.

he’s still focused on the boat but the life-after-death perspective is sluggish today.
a shoulder twitch and suddenly he recalibrates.

-- enough of that. what’s up.

our discussion turns toward allergic reactions to venom and the possibility of anaphylactic shock, but it’s a superficial riffle atop the undertow. as dr. b ushers me out of the examining room i need to make some attempt to dispel the pall.

-- maybe you should take that picture home -- i said. put it in one of your rooms.

his head tilts slightly but i am a patient now.

-- perhaps. you should get an ana-kit. have a good fall.

i don’t have answers. i’m sorry.

but my 200 IM felt sublime today. it is a rare day when all 4 strokes click. this morning the water was an ally, and sometimes that is enough.


addon said...

Hey! Great story and you told it so well! Loved it! I enjoyed it so much!

Hope the rash gets better.


Subhangi said...

HELP!!! Everywhere I go I run into a marvellous writer! I'm up against a spawning army of mutant geniuses! AIEEEE!

[Does King-Kong-esque "damsel in distress" impersonation]

finn said...

i'll save you,subh! but first i need sustenance. here, these mega M&Ms will do. if only they came in dark choc...

if only honda would make a hybrid element...

adam -- many thanks for the kind words.