Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, March 2, 2019, 3:13 p.m.
On Friday, I was in a prospective episode of Seinfeld.
The basic premise of the long-running show, now commonly syndicated, is “one thing leads to another in the darndest ways.” Such as, what if Cosmo Kramer hit a golf ball that landed in the blowhole of a whale?
I had a doctor’s appointment, which mainly consisted of a change of bandages on my slow-healing leg. I don’t get out much, other than to a meeting or a ballgame, so I’ve become quite the personality in the cafe booths, waiting rooms and grocery-store aisles of the county. A waiting room is not the place to ask someone “how you doing?” because it’s entirely possible he or she will tell you.
So a lady told me about how much pain she was in, and how her mother had always told her that God would punish her for her sins, and she couldn’t understand what she had done that was so bad for God to treat her this way.
I was in a great mood, but it wasn’t the time or place for humor. I nodded solemnly and wished I had just rested in the comfort of social media on my cell. I could have read a chapter of a novel that is approximately a teen-aged version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest instead of asking a lady in a wheelchair how she was doing.
It would have been better, and funnier, if she had said, “I’m in a wheelchair. I’m thinking about running a marathon tomorrow. How do you think I’m doing?”
The lady, who was accompanied by her apparent husband, received her call for treatment. Her husband sat his coffee mug on the table and said he would pick it up on the way out, and I admired him because I knew that if I left a mug in the waiting room, there’s no way I would have remembered to get it after seeing the doctor.
I got to use my sense of humor with the other woman in the waiting room, and then my summons came, and I got back to my joke-cracking self while I was told my wound continued to shrink, and I probably wouldn’t have to come twice a week much longer. This didn’t prevent me from pretending I was in a war movie when the doctor came in.
“I can take it, Doc,” I said. “Shoot it to me straight. Is it going to have to come off?”
“Your shoe is already off,” he said. “In a minute, you can put it back on.”
Deadpan. Doctors are deadpan.
On the way out, the lady in the office, who always reminds me of my next appointment, handed me the coffee mug.
“Did you leave this coffee mug in the waiting room?”
“No, this isn’t mine,” I said. “The fellow sitting next to me put it on the table and said he’d pick it up on the way out.”
I believe I was gone before the man and his ailing wife came out, but it occurred to me that it could have been a Seinfeld episode. If they had gotten through before me, he might have thought I’d stolen his mug, and the older I get, the more I understand the importance of a good insulated coffee mug. I have two and definitely prefer one to the other, even though all the print has been rubbed off the metallic favorite and other one was presented to me as a modest gift from my alma mater.
So, a la Seinfeld, he might have held a grudge against me, much like the Soup Nazi, and at the worst time, he would get a chance for the big payback for a slight I didn’t know I’d rendered.
Hilarity would ensue.
But it didn’t. It’s just a blog.
Another way I cobble out a living is with my books, a wide variety of which is available for sale here.
The new novel, my eighth, is called Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
Lightning in a Bottle is now available in an audio version, narrated by Jay Harper.